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 M.J.Atkinson » July 20th, 2010, 9:55 am

Title: Through The Wormhole
Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction- Time travel
Word Count: 233

Chapter 1: Time Travel Central

“Flute!” The word echoed down the bright blue hallway, followed by a resounding thud. Arthur lay sprawled face down on the copper tiled floor. Above him a clipboard hovered effortlessly.

Skidding to a halt several feet ahead, Zac turned, “Uncle A! What happened?” He sprinted back to Arthur’s side.

“The nanocomputers?” Arthur asked, scrambling to a kneeling position and knocking the clipboard with his head. Taking the clipboard, Zac inspected the attached watch-like devices.

“They’re fine.” His voice took on a hint of panic, “Come on! Aunt Jean is flipping her lid.”

Reassured that nothing had been damaged, Arthur tied his laces.

“You wore laces?!” Zac exclaimed. They were late. He had only one chance to time travel back to the twenty-first century. One chance to save history. And his uncle, one of the two people needed to make this happen, had decided to wear shoes with laces. The same shoes that had sent Uncle A plunging into the water fountain last week.

“They’re my lucky shoes,” Arthur said, taking the clipboard back with a sheepish shrug. Without wasting another second, they ran down the hall, sliding to a stop in front of a door. Arthur knocked quickly. Instead of waiting for an answer, Zac waved his hand at the door. It opened with a loud whoosh, retracting into the wall and revealing a brilliant white lab room.
Last edited by M.J.Atkinson on February 20th, 2011, 5:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Post by shesings » July 20th, 2010, 12:02 pm

The Solo Artist - Mainstream Fiction

Jessie Martin arrived at the county fairgrounds in Turlock alone, carrying her own acoustic guitar. Jessie no longer travelled to concerts on an equipment-laden tour bus, her entourage in tow. Big concert venues then, thousands of people coming to hear her sing. But that was twenty years ago. Today she wasn’t even listed on the bill, but she’d requested that. No need to advertise a fifteen-minute gig in the middle of here and gone. The bouncer at the backstage gate asked to see some ID. He waited, rubbing sun tan lotion on his tattoos while she fumbled in her velvet bag.
“Not because you look too young, obviously,” he said, “but, straight up, I don’t know who you are.”
“Two insults in one sentence,” she smiled, and handed him her driver’s license. “Nice.”
She had to point out her name on his list: Jessie Martin, folksinger. Well, she’d started out singing folk. After that era faded she detoured into pop for a good stretch, then jazz, even some cabaret music and an ill-advised cover album. But folksinger she remained.
“Right, right,” he shrugged. “I’ve heard the name, of course.”
Jessie hadn’t told anyone about this gig. Not her manager, or her secretary, or her acupuncturist. Not even her voice teacher knew about it, and no doubt would have warned her against it. If anyone asked, Jessie would tell them she’d made this anonymous trip to a stage in the heart of nowhere because damn it, she wasn’t done yet.

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

Post by erinl*tinker » July 20th, 2010, 12:08 pm

Title: Eyes Of The Heart
Genre: Young Adult
250 words

Some refer to me as the fallen.
I choose not to see myself that way.
For how can one be “fallen” when living on such an indulgent high?
Fallen are those that succumb to me.

How I just adore the South. For centuries it has been a plentiful source of affluent, attractive specimen. I’m drawn to Southern men especially, with their traditions, religious pride and dark secrets. So many of them are “hollow men” with their blissful ignorance clueless of the battle underway. My existence sings with their shortcomings.

It is futile to fight my advances. I get what I want. Only one man has ever proved a challenge to me with the possession of a particular sword. That was an unfortunate development. Nevertheless, my quest to taint one’s heart just seems to get easier throughout the years. I have consumed the essence of many beings this way during my vast existence.

I’ve grown tired of my current shell. To be frank, the life of a wealthy man just isn’t as satisfying without a youthful body to enjoy it. So many of my pleasurable activities become inhibited. Sigh. Alas, the time has come to move on. I’ve taken great pleasure in the selection of my newest host.

I enjoy the finer things mortal life has to offer, so not just any human will do. I hunt for a youthful man of great wealth, family stature and striking good looks--and of course, a broken spirit, just ripe for the picking.

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

Post by AMSchilling » July 20th, 2010, 1:12 pm

Title: Toxic
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
229 words

New York City

My sneakers skidded on the sidewalk, the concrete slick from rain. I kept it together, running full out like there were demons behind me. It wasn't all that far from the truth. Sure, my chasers were vampires and not actual demons, but names were just labels. In this case what mattered was the attitude.

Unfortunately for me, their attitude was that they were pissed off and wanted to tell me about it. From the comments they were making, they wanted to tell me about it violently. Words like "food chain" and "lesson" snaked toward me from their mouths. Phrases like "Type O bitch" and "Happy Meal" slithered close behind.

I took a corner fast and hit Grove Street, cursing when the sidewalks were empty. The Tranny bars were packed and might have offered me some safety, but at sixteen I was too young—and too female—to get past the bouncers. With the vampires close behind me, I had no time to waste getting booted to the pavement.

A garbage can appeared out of nowhere and I dodged it, almost tripping over my feet. The worst part was that the vampires were playing with me, laughing and teasing and taking their time. All because I'd accidentally tossed a venti Frappuccino over their heads. Smug jerks. Was messing with me necessary just because I’d stained their shirts?
Last edited by AMSchilling on October 21st, 2010, 8:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

"Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." - Stephen King ... 9869525150

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My Submission for Critique

Post by SteveYodaScott » July 20th, 2010, 1:24 pm

Genre: Preteen/Early Teen Fantasy

The day it happened began just like the one before, Theron awoke to the squawking of a crow that seemed to have a liking for his windowsill and the sound of its own voice.
The boy knew it was the same bird as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that one too, because of the strange marks on its beak. Not marks like the ones you’d see on a bird that’s been in a few squabbles, though Theron supposed it had seen its share, unnatural marks; grooves that spiraled and twirled in some sort of design. The pattern on one side curving along the ridge, and matching the other, till they disappeared under black feathers.
The little fellow was strange indeed, but no stranger than yesterday. Repetition can make anything familiar.
“Has no one yet told you you’re quite obnoxious?” greeted the boy.
Theron rolled off his cot and onto his feet. “I take that as a no. Well consider yourself warned.”
Before the bird could reply, Theron’s nose twitched, catching a sweet smell floating through the air. He breathed in slow and deep.
“If you’d known what’s good for you, you’d quit messing about my ‘sill and go pester the Old Miser for some of his bread.”
Theron grinned at the thought. That I’d like to see.

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

Post by Username » July 20th, 2010, 4:55 pm

Untitled. Literary fiction.

In the middle of lunch service Chef had sent one of his young cooks to the market on a produce run, and now the young man was back with a basketful of the happiest tomatoes Chef had seen since the summer.

This is some beautiful produce, he thought, picking one up and smelling it.

‘A tomato must smell of tomato,’ he would say to his cooks. ‘If it doesn’t smell of tomato, then it won’t taste of tomato’.

His name was Jean Christophe Novello and he was the 32-year-old chef-proprietor of Chartreuse restaurant, which bordered Wandsworth Common, near the River Thames, in southwest London.

Born in The Black Country, Chef Christophe entered the industry at just sixteen when his father, seeing that he wasn’t progressing in school, withdrew him, and ordered him into town to find work as a kitchen apprentice. While employed at The Hotel St. Germain, Christophe discovered that his dyslexia, which had retarded his academic growth, was now an irrelevancy, and that what mattered in a professional working kitchen was not book-smarts, but rather a thing known to cooks as kitchen awareness, or the ability to rely on each of the five senses when cooking. The sounds that food made when it was cooking could be as important as the smell or the sight of it - likewise, a cook working the meat section needed to have the touch, as to test the meat with the tip of his finger for its degree of doneness.

This is a physical place, something had said to Christophe on his first day in a professional kitchen. He had picked up his pairing knife and had commenced to peel potatoes, and the words had seemingly dropped out of the air: There is no book-learning in this place... you can survive in here.
Last edited by Username on September 10th, 2010, 10:51 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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

Post by CaitlinMcFarland » July 20th, 2010, 5:51 pm

Genre: Chick/Travel Lit
Words: 258

New York, New York. East Village.

God, this apartment is small. How did so much crap get in here? Storage beds, coffee tables with hidden drawers, giant size Tupperware containers that fit in the closet. New Yorkers are taught to use every inch of space to its fullest extent. Raise beds, add shelves, whatever it takes, right? Now I’m faced with the outcome. Getting it all out again. Fifth floor walk up (code for no elevator), add a spiral staircase to maneuver, and the lack of air conditioning in the midst of a heat wave…let’s just say, I’m not looking forward to it.

The intercom screamed to alert me that someone was downstairs. I dug myself out of the mess, and approached the box that in theory would allow me to speak to the person on the street. The speaker was broken (had been since I moved in), forcing me to gamble on who was downstairs. I used to fantasize about the possibilities – could it be the love of my life? Maybe a psychotic murderer? More often than not, it was the delivery boy from the Thai place around the corner.

It took me a little longer than usual to reach the magical box, as I was forced to maneuver through the barricades of boxes, and fight my way to the door. After holding down the button that unlocked the two doors downstairs, listening for the footsteps that followed them opening and closing, which assured me that the outsider had successful made it in, I cracked the door.

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

Post by LSimon » July 21st, 2010, 6:34 am


I sat at the back of the jewelry store curled up in the brown leather chair, hidden behind the glass display cases. We should have closed an hour before, but my Aunt Merelda was waiting for something.
She streaked through the small store, touching this, straightening that, making sure everything was perfect. My mother had established the store before she died, which made it mine, but Merelda lived and breathed this store. At least, she did when it suited her, and today it suited her fine. She shined the rosewood panels and glass panes on the display cases. She made sure no hint of dust remained on the artifacts scattered tastefully around the place.
The collection consisted mainly of drums and tribal jewelry, which were not for sale under any circumstances. They were my mother's, things she picked up from all over the world before she had met my dad and settled down. I stroked a feather that hung from a Native American drum, remembering the anthropologist who had come in last summer. He had begged me to sell him a few pieces from what I called the 'permanent collection'. I refused; instead Merelda sold him a pendant for his wife. Merelda swore the necklace would be of more benefit than any 'moldy old drum'. Her words, not mine. His wife was thinking of leaving him; any bit of goodwill he could get from her would do him good.

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

Post by GeorgeMasters » July 21st, 2010, 11:36 am

Last edited by GeorgeMasters on July 21st, 2010, 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by GeorgeMasters » July 21st, 2010, 11:45 am

The monster stood in front of the hotel closet and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She paused to admire her wedding ring. She looked at my reflection in the mirror, turned her head, glanced at me over her shoulder and smiled. Tall and wearing black silk pajamas, with that smile of smiles and high heels, she went back to brushing her long glistening hair. She was twenty years my junior. I sat at the foot of the bed watching her. The way she looked I had a problem believing in monsters.
She said, “Good evening Mr. Harp.”
Wearing black tuxedo trousers, a white tuxedo shirt unbuttoned at the neck, the bow tie untied I nodded. “Mrs. Harp.”
She said, “I like the sound of my new name.”
Our eyes met. She was still smiling. I began to say something and stopped. I saw something that caused me to change expression and mood. Body taut, perplexed, I leaned forward and blinked at the mystery. My stare passed through the woman and into the past.
Beneath a jungle canopy, a monkey called, a bird cried and nothing moved. After a long silence, an enemy patrol appeared. Clad in black pajamas and khakis, carrying weapons and supplies, they moved swiftly down a vine tangled trail. Appearing, disappearing with stealthy speed, one of the enemy was briefly recognizable as female.
I saw the thing that was her, and not her, in black, and moving like water. Never a clear picture but a snapshot just the same. Sitting on the bed, I shook it off and kept shaking.
Beautiful in front of the mirror, she turned to me, her pajama top unbuttoned. She tried to smother concern with a smile. “What’s the matter Daddy?” It was my wife of three days and I was afraid to tell her.
She looked down and ran a thumb along the fine embroidered collar. “You don’t like it?”
Above and to the left of the trail, two United States Marines lay side by side. Concealed and camouflaged, our faces darkened by mud, weapons at the ready, we held our fire and observed.
On the bed, I turned away from my wife then looked back. I shook my head. “I do like it.”
In the rain, tanks moved fast down a muddy road boarded by rice paddies. In a ditch, down off the road, a woman wearing black silk pajamas and a cone straw hat stood next to her bicycle waiting for our tanks to pass. Tanks bounced, treads throwing mud, we grinded toward the fighting in the hills to the west, the distance wet and green.
Riding on top of one of the tanks, I was soaked and hollow eyed. Cigar stump clamped between my teeth, rifle in one hand, I held on to the tank with the other and stared at the woman until I lost sight of her.
She pouted. “You don't. I'll change.” She began to take off her silk top. I raised my hand and she stopped.
I said, “You’re beautiful.”
“Then what’s the matter?”
The fire fight was over. On a hot, dry afternoon, Marines, dirty and exhausted, smoked, reloaded and checked their weapons. They drank water, emptied canteens over their bare heads and moved about the enemy corpses left behind. A helicopter circled overhead preparing to land. Green smoke from the LZ mixed with the fire from the still burning grass. Occasional firing sounded in a tree line.
I stood above a dead young woman, my rifle pointed at her feet. Wearing black pajamas and crossed ammo belts, the woman is curled on the ground, knees drawn up like a girl with a stomach ache. Tough, dirty bare feet, empty ammo pouches, the flies were starting to land in her hair. Black shrapnel had punctured her neck and temple. She had lovely teeth and an arm blown off at the shoulder.
My wife cocked her head and frowned. “What is it?”
My breathing was ragged. I was sweating and there was a ringing in my ears. I had to speak above the noise of it. “Don’t ever wear a cone hat with that outfit.” My voice surprised me. It changed her eyes.
She said, “A what?”
“Cone hat. Chinese, Vietnamese hat, looks like a lamp shade.”
“Okay.” She looked down at herself and closed the black silk top with her hand. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.”
“I hoped you’d like it.”
I stood and willed the monster to depart. “I love it.” I cleared my throat. “You look sensational. Come here.”
“You sure?”
“Yes Mrs. Harp, I’m sure.”

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

Post by courtneyv » July 21st, 2010, 2:26 pm

Title: Checkmate
Genre: YA suspense
Words: 242

Majesty jolted and nearly crapped a brick when the gun flipped up and aligned with her head, the gun before his face…like he instinctively knew where she hid in the brush…like his hand possessed a freakin’ heat sensor or something. The nice, thirty-foot distance between her and the barrel hazed down to point-blank range, making her eyes sear. And it didn’t help that god-awful beads of sweat, laced with hairspray of course, rained into her watering orbs with a lovely scorpion’s sting. He could get her in one shot. One. Just like he got all the rest.

Less than twenty minutes ago, the beloved Colts she managed had crushed in the regional semifinal. Now, they peppered the woodland like fallen soldiers. This freak of nature had taken them out with swiftness and ease. Sick. His aim was precise, unearthly perhaps, and could surely be the death of her. The scattered carnage proved it. Total annihilation resided in one shot.

Her pulse played ruckus tunes of thunder in her ears and every inhale snagged on her scratchy throat, tattered and worn from cheering and screams. But, she wasn’t ready to give up, even with wind spiraling dirt and dead leaves, stirring up the stench of taunting ruin.
Maybe he couldn’t truly see her behind the veil of foliage, though nature slanted against her, with the telling sun piercing through the lush canopies, spotlighting her where she hid, and a stinkin’ crow screeching overhead.
Last edited by courtneyv on February 17th, 2011, 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Siduri » July 21st, 2010, 4:38 pm

Genre: Urban fantasy
(230 words)

Viv woke to a demonic yowl, a protracted and ululating shriek of outrage never formed by human voice. Adrenalin shocked her body and she jerked upright, fumbling for the lamp that ought to be beside her bed and wasn't. Animal panic filled her sleep-dazed brain: she didn't know where she was, or what was beside her in the darkness.

Then her cat yowled again, and with the identification of that sound Viv's conscious mind kicked in. She wasn't at home, she was in a hotel room on the outskirts of San Francisco with her cat--it was Silk who was making that noise, and her wailing threatened to wake everyone on the same floor. The light fixture in the hotel was on the opposite side of the bed. Viv leaned into the darkness, found a switch and flipped it.

Silk was by the window, tail stiffened and pale fur all bristling. In the first flash of light Viv saw a lumpy inhuman face with luminous orange eyes pressed against the other side of the glass. A nightmare memory flashed into stark reality: yes, she had been dreaming of running through overgrown orchards, chasing or being chased by goblin creatures like this one. She shrieked, flinching back--and the face was gone. Only the branches of a tree tossed outside the window, and beyond it, glimpses of orange streetlamps from the parking lot.

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

Post by Dawnfalcon » July 22nd, 2010, 12:30 am

Title: Dawn's Feathers
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word count: 246

It was late in the day of another dragonless year and the first rains had come and washed the dust off the surrounding vegetation. No dragons had been seen in centuries and even those stories had moved into the realm of myth and fiction. Pegasus were only remembered as the mounts of great heroes and their innate value had been forgotten. The air was heavy with smoke from burn piles as people gladly cleaned their yards of the summer debris. The asphalt reflected light in a most unpleasant way and one would wonder why Dawn had chosen to walk along the road. It was hot, but not so hot that walking was uncomfortable. A griffon to ride would have made the journey much more remarkable. A fairy probably could have helped her too, but no one alive knew exactly how.

She wasn’t really hitchhiking as she did not have a specific goal or destination in mind.

She had a vague sense that she wanted to go Boonville, somehow she thought the answer would be there. The acrid smell of cars passing burned her nose, she hated that feeling. A shiny silver Mercedes passed quickly and a man’s face leered out at her for a moment then was swept away by the swift passage of the internal combustion engine. She was just walking then and did not put her thumb out in the universal gesture of needing a ride. A truck passed and she still walked, searching.

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

Post by D.S. Deshaw » July 22nd, 2010, 2:36 am

Title: Glory or Death
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word count: 250

Ayla Elias was fifteen years, three hundred sixty four days, and twenty two hours old… and running late for her birthday dinner date with her dad. She ran along the dirt path with bare feet, a frown, and a basket of fruit over her shoulder. Twigs snapped and rocks crumbled under her steps, cold magic padding her feet like shoes. The path winded between a forest of towering fir trees, mammoth shore pines, and colossal red cedar and alder trees up to a cliff on the northern tip of the island. She raced by jigsaw houses made of dark stone nestled between the trees toward the cliff and the door to the human world hidden in its rocky slope.

She couldn’t see the cliff, but she knew it was just over a mile away. It'd take her eight minutes if no one stopped her—except every house had its wooden door wide open. It was inevitable someone would step out and notice her because Ekarkara was a small, tight-knit community. Ayla knew every house, everyone by name, and they all knew her even though she didn’t live here. It didn’t matter to them, they still treated her like she did.

“Happy birthday, Ayla!”

Ayla looked over her shoulder as she passed by the Badal house and noticed her friend waving out of an open window on the third floor. Faya blew her a kiss as Ayla laughed and waved back and yelled her thanks.

“Sweet sixteen, finally!” Faya called out.
Last edited by D.S. Deshaw on October 22nd, 2010, 7:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Polenth » July 22nd, 2010, 10:24 am

* deleted *
Last edited by Polenth on March 2nd, 2011, 3:32 am, edited 1 time in total.


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