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 melanie_1922 » July 28th, 2010, 3:16 pm

Title: The Flower Garden
Words: 237
Genre: Young Adult

The blackout started in the moment I decided he could only control my body and not my mind. I allowed the separation to begin, and it was fairly simple. One minute I was there, fighting to be free, and the next I was watching it all happen from a safe place, far away. I could see the poor girl, whose face now bled through her orange sweater, as she lay limp under the boy. I could see as he fumbled just before he inserted himself into her, the girl on the ground, and roared out with pleasure. Sympathy consumed me as I felt the tears streaming down her delicate face. I wanted to reach out to her but was helpless as my arms were bound, just as hers were bound.

And then, like our prayers, the girls and mine, were being answered, the weight lifted and we were whole again. No longer could I feel the weight of him bearing down on me. Darkness still loomed as my sweater continued to play its part in my nightmare, blocking out the hideous demon. My arms and legs bound by my own fear of an intolerable reality. Instead, I made use of my other senses and listened to the punching and kicking that was coming from just a few feet away. I heard the muffled yelps from Nate, the smacks from striking fists, and then the darkness turned silent.

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

Post by CB ICE » July 28th, 2010, 5:19 pm

2 Title Options: Surviving the Serengeti or Shamba's Super Safari
Word Count: 250 (manuscript=16,500)
Genre: MG Animal Fiction

“I’m faster than you,” the girl cheetah cub said to her brother, “zoom.” She sprinted ahead of him.
“No way, I’m faster” the boy cub said, running passed her. “Zoom, zoom.”
She caught up to him. The two cheetahs were running neck and neck. Faster and faster, so fast they whizzed by a lion who was chasing a gazelle.
“Oh no,” the gazelle said. “I can’t outrun cheetahs too.”
“Don’t worry gazelle. We’re not chasing you,” the girl cub said. “We’re just giving our new friends a ride home.” The striped field mouse whispered in her ear. “I mean our new friends, Shamba and Tony.”
“Whew,” gazelle said. “Looks like the lion has finally given up.”
Again, the cheetahs were neck and neck, smiling without a care in the world. Of course, their mom wasn’t far behind.
Just as the cubs reached their highest speed Shamba shouted,“Whoa, whoa, slow down little cheetah. This is our stop.”
The cheetah cubs came to a screeching halt at the entrance to the camp site.
“I don’t believe it,” Shamba said. “It must have been a wildfire.”
All eight tents were destroyed. Little fires still burned where the tents used to stand. The camp’s staff and guests were nowhere to be found and neither were their jeeps.
“Doesn’t look like we’re going to meet your friend Sarah,” Mrs. Cheetah said.
“Maybe another time,” Shamba said, shaking his head.
This had been their home for the past two years--thanks to Sarah.

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

Post by mlfarb » July 28th, 2010, 7:02 pm

Title: Kyra
Genre: YA Adventure
Word Count: 220

Yusri shivered as he entered the Hall of Counsel, not only from the sudden change from the desert sun and sand, but also from the disdainful glances of the other six council members.

“Yusri,” whispered the next most junior councilman, “why do you persist to dress like that?” gesturing to Yusri's simple robes and bare hands.

“Because I base judgment on the law and not the petitioner's money.”

“Money is the law and you—you are an embarrassment.”

Yusri shook his head and sat down. Money is the law to them, he thought, and our tribes are falling apart because of it. I've persuaded, I've showed irrevocable evidence, I've pleaded with them—maybe I should threaten. No, they will only laugh, like they always do. Will nothing shake them?

“They shall be shaken,” said a papery voice to his left. Yusri spun around to face an ancient man. Wispy white hair flowed down and around a leathery dark face. Bright eyes, almost buried in wrinkles, stared intently at Yusri.

“What did you say?” Yusri asked in a whisper. His hands trembled.

“They shall be shaken and fall. You shall fall with them. But do not fear. Your fall is not far and you will survive it. But many of them will shatter. Weep for them.”

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

Post by Sapia » July 28th, 2010, 9:53 pm

Title: Untitled
Genre: Literary
Word count: 250

Porcelain heads, hands, and demi-legs were dropped, chinking, into the laundry basket. He would smash them with the monster maul later. Cloth bodies were snipped open and un-stuffed, just as he had done to her decorative pillows. He folded each doll’s dress and placed them neatly in one of the empty pillow casings. The paper pile was easy to assemble and included paintings extracted from their frames. The jewelry was the most laborious. With various tools he removed every stone, chewed open and straightened every ring, bracelet, and hoop, and untwined each braid and coil. They would find fragments of the crushed jewels and beads in with the ground porcelain. He scrapped out all of her makeup and lotions with a rubber spatula and q-tips, melting them together on the stove in the sturdy potato pot.

It took almost three full nights. He ate mustard, bread, and bologna for every meal. His hair had not been cut since the spring and tended to slide over his eyes. The days were full of the glaring sun, no mail, and no phone calls so he spent them lying on the cool cement basement floor. When fragments of the broken terracotta flowerpot bit into his skin, he didn’t alter his position.

On the third day, he swept up the flowerpot. With a damp, black sock, he wiped the soot from the portly, four-legged, wood furnace. He used the stainless steel soup ladle and pancake turner to dislodge and scoop out the ancient ashes.

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

Post by duwarr » July 29th, 2010, 10:32 am

Title: Unlives of the Undead
Genre: YA Paranormal
(248 words)

“Can someone get rid of the flies? They’re ruining the shots,” a cameraman said.

"It’s Brain-Breath’s fault. They follow him like pets,” Annabelle said. She flashed a spiteful smile at me.

“Don’t call me that,” I said, frowning.

“What would you prefer? Rotting Flesh? The Walking Corpse?” Annabelle’s smile widened to reveal her fangs.

“You’re one to talk, Blood Sucker,” I said.

“Oh, how clever! I’ve never heard that before. How many days did it take for you to come up with it?”

Annabelle’s hand shot out, quick as lightning, and closed around one of the flies. She squeezed and then opened her hand. The lifeless bug dropped to the ground.

“Was that your best friend? I’m so sorry you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.” She only needed a few seconds to dispose of the rest of the flies circling me.

I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. I couldn’t come up with a decent response.

Wicked delight flashed in Annabelle’s eyes. She knew she’d won this round, not that she ever came close to losing a verbal spat with me. She was quick-witted, even for a vampire. A zombie like me had no chance of matching her repartee for repartee.

“Tell me you’re getting all this,” Scott, the shoot director, whispered to one of the cameramen.

“Oh yeah,” the man said from behind his camera.

I grimaced. Next week’s episode of Unlives of the Undead would feature yet another scene where Annabelle embarrassed me.

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

Post by afelsted » July 29th, 2010, 11:16 am

Title: Star Touched
Genre: YA modern fantasy
(238 words)

My knees wouldn’t stop shaking. They made me look weak, like a freak and a coward. It may be true, but I’d deny it to my last breath. Remember who you are . . . remember who you are . . . remember who you are, I chanted, picking up the hard case at my feet.

I winced, dropping it to the floor, then held my palm to the light. I’d just reopened the slash that began at the base of my pinky and ran diagonally to my thumb, splitting my hand into two equal parts. I blew on it, hoping to curb the pain, but it only grew redder, as if I’d angered it. Don’t be ridiculous Maddie, cuts don’t have feelings.

I picked my instrument case up with my good hand and carried it between a gong and a xylophone, past three pairs of knees with flutes lying across them, then stopped in front of the trombones, at the last chair in the back of the viola section. The seats in front of it were grouped in rows of two, but this one stood alone. I felt sorry for the poor thing, sitting by itself, friendless and neglected. I rubbed my hand along the wooden chair back. We were kindred spirits.

The seats at my old high school had been made of cheap plastic, but they’d been well used, worn and loved.
Last edited by afelsted on August 5th, 2010, 8:41 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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

Post by lscacc01 » July 29th, 2010, 11:21 pm

Title: The Vampire Gwenevieve
Genre: Historical/Paranormal Fiction
Words: 229

Gwenevieve turned her peridot eyes up to meet Jacques's steely gray ones. Jacques pushed the strands of Gwenevieve's stringy hair behind her right ear, his eyes locking onto hers and refusing to set them free in that old, familiar way. “It isn't that kind of relationship, Gwen. He's no different from any one before him—you know that, don't you?”

The pallid girl shook her head. “It is different,” she replied, a blush in her voice at the thought of Mathieu. So many long and wonderful nights floated into her mind, and Gwenevieve could hardly keep from smiling. “He's—not afraid of me.”

Jacques's expression of concern gave way to sternness. “You aren't dating him, Gwnevieve. You're feeding on him.”

At this, Gwenevieve tore her eyes from his and crossed her arms at her chest defiantly. She tapped a foot against the concrete beneath her, and the sound echoed quietly through the mausoleum. She considered some retort, but thought better of it, and kept her silence.

“Once he realizes he's dying—once he's dead—he won't want you anymore,” Jacques said, gentler now. Before Gwenevieve could say it herself, he added: “The way you didn't want me when you woke up.”

Gwenevieve dropped her arms and sighed in resignation. He was right—hadn't it been the same when Jacques appeared at her own bedside all those years ago?
The bride of spring to the groom of death,
The woman vital to the man without breath

[ Lindsay ]]

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

Post by Ishta » July 29th, 2010, 11:51 pm

Working Title: HUNTER
YA Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 250

There’s this TV show, one of those “family” shows where some old perv in a toupee interviews little kids, asking them questions like, “What’s your favorite flavor ice cream? (Chocolick.)” and “What do you want to be when you grow up? (I want to be Superman, so I can catch all the bad guys and beat them up!)” And then everyone shakes their head and smiles at the unbearable cuteness of it all. And every week, there’s some little kid who says, “When I grow up, I want to be famous.” And everybody laughs because, well, the kid is on TV. And isn’t that what everybody wants, no matter what age they are? That’s what you’re supposed to want when you’re a teenager, right? The nice cars, the hot guys, the sexy clothes?

Except I don’t. I just want to get through the year with my boyfriend and my sanity intact, as far away from the spotlight as possible.

Still, my hand shakes a little as I run my finger down the list of names outside the auditorium. I want to blame it on the crowd of kids jostling to get a look, but I guess deep down, I’d rather have a tiny bit of the spotlight than none at all. Johnson, Li, Andrews... Please, oh, please... Wilson, MacArthur... Are those butterflies in my stomach? What a cliché. Jones, Powell, Madison, O’Neill...

“OW!” I turn to confront the offender who has crushed my toes, and come nose-to-chest with Chad Crowley.
Last edited by Ishta on November 23rd, 2010, 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by estaab » July 30th, 2010, 4:33 pm

Power from Darkness
Dark Paranormal Romance

"Jesus T, what is this place??"

Thad Morgan scanned the large warehouse turned dance club from just inside the doorway, his preternatural vision passing over the writhing crowd of humans before him. "I think they call it a rave," he murmured to his friend.

Thad's hands clenched and released as he contemplated how best to conduct their search. The gesture, along with a jaw so taut it felt ready to crack, gave away his apprehension in a way he wished it didn't. The club was friggin' huge and packed to the gills, from the crowded floor full of scantily-clad dancers with glow sticks to the equally occupied perimeter balconies where couples and even groups were involved in more intimate acts such as massage and...whatnot. It was hard to fathom how in the hell they were going to find the female they were looking for in this place.

Already feeling overheated, Thad pushed up the sleeves of his leather jacket and fingered the unusual scar on his forearm, tracing over the two inverted "L" shapes and then the horizontal bar underneath. The patch of skin was even hotter than the rest of him, and throbbing in time with the bass-heavy techno music that was drilling into him. He could almost swear the thing was glowing but the haze of laser lights and cigarette smoke made it tough to be certain.

"She's in here Lee, I can feel it," he said tightly

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

Post by ddegreeff » July 30th, 2010, 7:36 pm

Genre: Middle-grade comedy mystery

My steel-toed loafer sent the door flying off its hinges and into the large, dark foyer, and I skidded in after it.
“Worst! Day! Ever!” I yelled. I knew everyone in the house was
sleeping, but I didn’t care. I was upset, and with good reason.
“Carver!” I bellowed. “Carver! We need to talk!”
Holy marzipan did we ever need to talk. My perfect record was shattered. This morning I had been Brock Rockster, The Boy Who Always Got His Man, the twelve-year-old mustache prodigy and world’s greatest private investigator to the stars. I had been untouchable, unstoppable, and undefeated – but not anymore.
I saw a room dimly lit off to the right and stomped toward it, each step echoing through the otherwise silent house. The room was empty. A desk lamp glowed in the room’s far corner over some stacks of paper and folders, but there was no one tending them.
“Carver!” I tried again. “Hey! Gotta dude in need of some help here!”
“Well, hello, pard,” said a voice both behind and above me.
“Vampires!” I yipped, and tripped over my feet and onto my face in the middle of the floor.
A deceivingly old woman in a cowboy hat by the name of Carver McCarver snickered softly and twisted her way down from the suspension wire holding her eight feet in the air.
“No vampires this time, bud, just my standard late-night vertical ab workout,” she said. “Bit past curfew for you, ain’t it?”
Davy DeGreeff

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

Post by CaitlinMcFarland » July 31st, 2010, 10:50 pm

The Untitled Epic
Genre: Commercial/Women's Fiction/Travel Lit
Word Count: 249
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...

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Location: Cleveland, Ohio

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

Post by Leonidas » July 31st, 2010, 11:03 pm

Title: Gunmetal Gray
Genre: Literary Fiction
Word Count: 243 words

There’s a man yelling at me in a language I don’t understand. The streets are empty; the sun’s just about to rise, the sky looks like it’s holding its breath before color explodes from the horizon. And the man is screaming. John’s trying to talk to him, trying to calm him down enough to speak. Tex’s voice murmurs like the sand, quiet: “What’s he saying?” We wait, and the sky’s not the only thing holding its breath. Sometimes, you don’t need to be a language banned word to figure out what someone’s saying – there’s a crazed look to the man’s eyes. They’ve seen too much death, too much destruction; the land is reflected in his irises. They’re black, but gray and brown, too. I’ve never seen eyes like his.

He looks like he’s seen a ghost.

“I dunno.”

“John, what the hell's he saying?” We aren’t alone anymore – people are beginning to notice us. They don’t speak, but I see children behind their mothers’ silhouettes. If we aren’t careful, soon we’ll have a situation. We might already have one.

“He’s talkin’ Turkish! I don’t speak Turkish! I speak Farsi – not Turkish!” The man’s begging for something, looking between John and Tex and me.

“Ben, Doc, you boys come with me.” Preacher’s watching the people watching us. Everyone’s waiting for something to happen – our rifles are heavier, the wind gentler. The man’s not screaming anymore, but he’s babbling. Talking to hear himself talk.

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

Post by Kim Harnes » July 31st, 2010, 11:13 pm

Title: Still Photo
Genre: YA Paranormal Suspense
Word count: 258

Skinny women in butt floss.
That’s what her boss had her photograph day in and day out.
Jessica Waterford often wondered how women could wear thong underwear. They consisted of barely a half-centimeter of material to cover the front, after all, and a piece of thread in the back that was rammed up her ass crack. Actually, she immediately and indiscreetly yanked out her underwear when they snuck up there to begin with. She certainly wasn’t going to put anything there on purpose.
Despite his preference in job assignments and his subject’s costumes, or lack thereof, in Jess’s opinion, George Caldwell was the best guy to work for. She had learned so much from him in the nine months she’d been an intern at Starlight Fashion Magazine, and could only hope to learn more.
“Turn to the left, Angie,” he said to the anorexic girl against the backdrop. “Arch your back and tilt your head to the side.”
“But I can’t move that way,” she complained and stomped her foot tantrum-like, her high heel clicking on the floor, her silicone boobs bouncing stiffly in her bikini top.
“Well, if you can’t move that way, there are seven girls in the dressing room that can, and they’re all waiting for their chance.” George was harsh, but not unkind.
She apparently got the point. “Arch my back like this?”
“And turn your head to the side.”
“Like this?”
“Just like that.” He turned to Jess. “Threats usually work,” he whispered and winked. His bushy, white eyebrow dipped with his eyelid.

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

Post by joankr » August 2nd, 2010, 12:07 am

Genre: Literary fiction
Word count: 249

It was my fault--the accident. No way would Win have not seen that truck coming from miles away, especially not at this intersection, where the land actually rises up a few feet above the flat prairie all around. Not if I hadn’t blown the smoke in his face.

Now all I can do is sit on this rock a few feet from that old rockpile they call Buena Vista Mount, watch the rescuers in their lime-green jackets and gray helmets on the highway and in the ditch, and pray to all the gods in the universe that my husband came through as good as I did--or better. Because even though nothing hurts and everything about me looks all right, I can’t seem to move.

It was my fault we were running late and had to take the Hard Road. It was my fault we went at all; Win tried to talk me out of it. But I wasn’t thinking rationally. I was nine days late. Nine days of walking around the house on tiptoe, the two of us smiling silly smiles and crossing our fingers. Nine days of growing a baby. And then this morning, it arrived; hope dissolved into blood.

I tried to be stoic, but Win knew exactly what was happening and he held me with such compassion, I couldn’t stop the tears. When we pulled away, I looked at his face. It was dry, but behind his eyes, I could see his own sorrow.

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

Post by nicole » August 2nd, 2010, 8:42 am

Title: From the Cold
Gentre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 242

Hattie Griffin swore she hadn’t been prying when she looked through the letterbox of number 10 to find him in the hallway, dangling by his expensive silk tie. I knew that prying was exactly what she had been doing, if anyone could be relied upon to know specific details about our neighbours’ lives, it was spiteful old ‘Fatty’ Griffin. Nobody doubted her. Most of the adults stayed on her good side only in the hopes she might refrain from passing along any gossip she might learn about them. I didn’t trust her. Fatty Griffin had been responsible for telling the entire street that my father could no longer afford to pay for my wedding.

“Poor Ruth,” I’d overheard her saying to Mr Myers, her voice full of glee, “I’m afraid she’ll end up a spinster.” Aside from the fact that she is a truly horrible old woman, I’m not sure why she took such delight in it. In the midst of a depression, nobody has that kind of money, including her. I had refused to acknowledge her since. I stood amongst the crowd only because of my fascination of anything morbid.

No one doubted he was dead, perhaps because we had all been on the other end of her tongue in the past. Though no one spoke, we knew we were at least partly responsible for his death. Some, although I knew they would deny it now, had wished it on him.
Last edited by nicole on August 2nd, 2010, 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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