Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Posts: 1
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 10:36 am

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

Post by Alniah » August 2nd, 2010, 10:40 am

Title: Born To Die
Genre: YA Dystopia
Word Count: 249

Without a word, the guards brought her in, hard hands shoving her forward as they closed the door behind them. Axia wanted to tell them how unhappy Master Malit would be to find them rough handling his property like this, but the echoes of the clanging door were already fading around her, leaving her in silence and solitude. As a born Owned, solitude was something she was used to and fighting in the arena her only purpose.

She shrugged, loosening her shoulders and cracking the bones of her neck. She sat patiently, eyes fixed ahead of her. Ionic energy shackles bound her wrists, their dull glow barely piercing the darkness of the cell. The stillness washed over her as she focused her mind. Only the fight could busy her thoughts now.

The Antefight room was tightly sealed, preventing anyone and any sounds from coming through. Those few moments of isolation were very important to her concentration. This was where she had to switch from a relaxed state to survival mode.

The air moving in and out of her lungs grew heavier in the confined space. She stood up from the metal bench, walked a few feet ahead and centered herself in front of the unseen door. She waited, focusing on the regular pattern of her breathing. Her mind was blank, sterile of any thoughts.

The release of the locks reverberated in the empty space. The door opened on silent hinges, a rectangular cutout of light drawn in the blackness.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 12:46 pm

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

Post by Hutton329 » August 2nd, 2010, 1:40 pm

Title: Zombies in Bonobo
Genre: YA paranormal
Word count: 247

When I was seven years old, my sister was ripped apart by a zombie. Now, I’m not crazy. Or delusional. I didn’t make up some fantastical story and sear it into my brain to keep out any sort of harsh reality, either. I know because I was there, and I saw it.

Rice had snuck out the window of our little ranch house sometime after sunset. Lying in my bed, I’d been watching her, tossing and turning occasionally so that she knew I was still up. For some reason, she hadn’t let it bother her. Instead, she’d continued applying her ghastly black eyeliner, teasing her hair, and pursing her lips at her reflection like it might come alive and ask her for a big kiss. At some point one of my parents walked past the bedroom door, making the floorboards squeak and groan in warning.

Like the seasoned pro she was, Rice switched off her vanity light and shot back into her creamy white comforter before the door had opened a crack. With my eyes squeezed shut, I couldn’t tell whether it was my mother or my father. The satisfied sigh could have come from either of them. Once the door clicked shut, Rice was back up in a flash, frowning at her mirror, fastidiously checking to make sure her appearance hadn’t gotten smudged on her pink, princess pillow.

“Where are you going?” I’d finally asked as she slung her green crocodile skin purse over her shoulder.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 2:34 pm

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

Post by AE_Rought » August 2nd, 2010, 2:49 pm

RESONANCE: YA paranormal

I sat in the shadows of the auditorium wishing I could throttle Shaina Weston.
Razor straight blond hair, ice blue eyes and, worst of all, Shaina had a pitch perfect voice. Despite my monster case of jealousy that she was singing with my boyfriend, I had to admit she deserved lead soprano in High Street honors choir. Her lead status didn’t have me near tears. The pure tone of Shaina and Chad’s sappy sweet love song rang true enough for me to see it hanging between them, and nearly broke my heart. The way his gaze poured over her face, and the closeness in their choreography threw Chad’s boyfriend status into serious question.
Nevermind I had no idea how I saw their song, and the depth of emotions they put in it. Seeing music was uncharted territory. But the squeezing ache behind my breastbone chased those thoughts away, like an internal pinch to distract me. Heartache owned my attentions.
“Look at them,” I whispered to my best friend. “They’ve got to be hooking up off stage.”
“No way.” Autumn shook her head, then thumped my shoulder. “He’s totally into you.”
“I used to think so.”
“What do you mean, ‘used to’?” Shiny bangles clinked around her wrist when she waved a hand at Chad, then at me. “You’re short, he’s tall. Your dark hair, his light… You two are the cutest couple ever, Faith. They’re just singing together for the choir competition.”
Singing like angels together, I thought miserably. Music and I just didn’t get along well.

Posts: 2
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 4:29 pm

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

Post by jduff » August 2nd, 2010, 4:38 pm

Title: Twisted Summer
Genre: Contemp YA

Deep breaths in and out, in and out, I recited, trying to slow my racing pulse as I headed to the locker room. Even after three years on the cheerleading squad, try-outs always did a number on me.

After changing, I headed out to my car to meet up with my teammates. As I walked up to them they were looking patiently at me like I was about to give a speech. I didn’t understand what was going on. When I got to the door of my Mini Cooper, a gift from my parents for my sixteenth birthday, I saw something lying in the front seat.

Who broke into my car, I never leave my car unlocked. I thought to myself.

When I reached for the door handle to see if it was locked I saw a dozen white roses lying in the seat, I knew why everyone was staring at me. Since I had a history of never dating, it was strange for me- of all people- to have flowers in my car.

“Well, are you going to tell us who your secret romance is with or are we going to have to guess?” Zoey was usually the first one to say something.

“Nope. I don’t know who those are from. My guess would be my parents. You guys know about as much as I do.”

I really didn’t know what to expect when pulled the card from the flowers.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 5:51 pm

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

Post by Cathi » August 2nd, 2010, 5:57 pm

Title: Currently Untitled
Genre: Fantasy
249 words (prologue)

He sat on the edge of the sofa with his feet dangling over the edge, waiting.

Where is she?

He bounced up and down, kicked his feet and clucked his tongue against his teeth. Finally, the anticipated footsteps approached. He went still for a moment before bouncing higher and letting out a high-pitched squeal.

But when the footsteps stopped. He went still and then sat up on his knees. Leaning over the sofa arm, he peered down the hallway, but he must not leave the sofa. She told him so. He slipped the tip of his thumb between his teeth, his eager smile gone.
What is she doing?

Suddenly she leapt from the hallway and he squealed with laughter as she landed on her hands and knees like a great cat, bearing her teeth, her eyes wild. He tucked in his knees and scrambled to the far end of the sofa, but she was too fast. She grabbed him around the middle and rolled him over onto his back. Her fingers found his belly and tickled with such intensity he thought he might never catch another breath.

“Who loves you?” she said, her fingers continuing with their assault.

He laughed so hard he snorted. “Stop!”

And she did so, but only for a moment. “Wrong answer!”

She grabbed his foot and tickled, sending spasms of laughter through him so hard he thought he might explode into tiny pieces. “Stop! Stop!” he half pleaded, half giggled, kicking against her grip....

Posts: 1
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 6:33 pm

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

Post by AmyRoseDavis » August 2nd, 2010, 6:45 pm

Title: Ravenmarked
Genre: Fantasy
Wordcount: 245

The Esparan sun reflected off razor-sharp scales as Connor gripped his harpoon, ready to strike the massive fish. He adjusted his footing on the sandy sea bottom, dropped chum, and waited. The bloodhunter’s mouth cut through the water toward his leg; Connor held the harpoon ready –

Another shimmer distracted him. Shit! He missed his chance to strike and leapt away to avoid losing a thigh to the razorfish’s teeth. “Damn it!” Coral stabbed between his toes but he gritted his teeth and regained his footing as the razorfish circled.

“Connor.” Violet braids of air brought her voice to his ear over crashing surf and crying gulls.

“Not now!” The fish charged. Focus renewed, Connor thrust his harpoon into the fish’s neck and pulled it toward him, avoiding its thrashing body. He pulled a knife and stabbed the fish between the eyes. When it stopped moving he lifted the harpoon out of the water and grinned. Not bad for a quick morning swim. When he turned toward the shore, the grin faded. “Mother. You nearly cost me a leg.”

Queen Maeve stood on the white sand, hands on hips and mouth in a grim frown, as he waded toward her. “How in the name of Bachi’s teeth did you end up in Espara?”

“I’m on holiday. Kanisse Helene invited me.” He looked down at her. “Did you come to release me?”

She folded her arms. “No.”

“Then we don’t have anything to say to each other.”

Ed Miracle
Posts: 2
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 8:17 pm

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

Post by Ed Miracle » August 2nd, 2010, 8:25 pm

Please delete this post.
Last edited by Ed Miracle on November 1st, 2010, 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 9:05 pm

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

Post by cheboricuas » August 2nd, 2010, 9:09 pm

Title: Southern Cross
Genre: Contemporary YA

Lies have short legs. I’ve known this ominous proverb since before I could speak.
Who among my ancestors brought the saying across the Atlantic all the way to Argentina?
My Russian great-grandmother embroidered it on a pillow when her first boyfriend broke her heart. My Palestinian grandfather whispered it to me every time my mom found his stash of wine bottles hidden in the unlikeliest places, like underneath my bed. My Andalusian grandmother repeated it like a mantra, lost in her old woman insanity, before her memories and regrets called her to the next life.
Perhaps the saying doesn’t belong to any language and sprouted from this land the early explorers thought encrusted with silver, and my immigrant family adopted the expression like its own.
In spite of seventeen years of practice, my lies’ legs haven’t grown stronger or faster. I know the consequences of lying to my father. A reflex slap that will leave my face burning for hours. A session of yelling and blaming his worries on a daughter—me— who’s not as beautiful as her mother nor as smart as he is. A litany of all the reasons he gave my mom for not having any more children after Pablo—perfect, beautiful Pablo—was born.
With all these thoughts clamoring in my head, this Sunday afternoon I still went to the stadium to watch my brother play in the Scoundrels’ opening match of the season. My brother and that other boy whom the press calls The Titan because on the pitch, he’s more than a god. Diego Ferrari.

Posts: 11
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:32 pm

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

Post by Ce3 » August 2nd, 2010, 9:29 pm

Dear Nathan,
Enclosed is my one page critique.
Thank you for all you do to help us poor souls who think we can write.
Court Loomis

Title: Living With a Positive Power
(Do you believe in Miracles)
Genre: Non-fiction

Two days after a Heart Transplant was indisputably declared my future, I settled into a coarse hardwood chair located in the congested St. Paul’s Heart and Lung Transplant Center’s sterile waiting room. I was waiting my turn― over two hours now and counting― to see my cantankerous Transplant Cardiologist.
Observing the depressing scene of extremely sick patients brought me to the quick conclusion what I needed most was to get the hell out of there, and fast. I tried my best to come prepared with a positive attitude but the dour mood of the room seemed to suck life right out of me. I made eye contact with a few people but most just stared straight ahead in some strange catatonic stupor.
The scene reminded me of a book on the power of positive thinking. A book stating one of the most important things you can do to be positive about your life is to surround yourself with positive happy people. Nobody was happy at St. Paul’s that morning, each person thinking morose thoughts of their ultimate demise―things they really had no control over and most looked as if they were a cough away from giving up. I thought more about the book’s advice and decided to be positive whether they were or not.
Now understand, I did not want a transplant, the idea of one scared me to death, but thought if I could just jump right in and face the devil at least I’d give myself a chance.

Posts: 6
Joined: August 2nd, 2010, 10:15 pm

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

Post by merrymuhsman » August 2nd, 2010, 10:17 pm

Title: The Pawn
Genre: fantasy
(240 words)

I am a fool.

He knew his human presence might awaken the seeress. He knew the seeress might kidnap him and take him to Blakulla to be sacrificed. He knew he couldn’t return without the amber and disappoint his father.

Clouded white light sliced through the thin trees, threatening intruders with its solitary watch. Wet spring rain choked an already soggy ground with its moldy breath. His shoes squished as moisture pooled in between the cracks of his leather boots— chilling his bones until they ached. Spits of color from flowering pink bushes gave the landscape a little color of hope. The heavy moisture clung to everything living and revived what should remain dead.

Even though his father had commanded the death of all the seeress, even though no one had seen one in several years, even though no one, no one at all, dared to come here for amber, he stepped into the sacred grove. He would not disappoint his father. Not again.

Something flapped above his head, making the branch shiver at its passing. His stomach jerked, sending a jolt of adrenaline to his legs. His footsteps quickened, the water rolling in his shoe in a rhythmic squash-squish tempo. He looked over his shoulder once, twice, three times.

Flits of jade flashed in the corner of his vision. Tree branches seemed to come to life, scratching at his arms, clawing at his hair, slapping his ears.

Something screamed.

Posts: 28
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 8:27 am

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

Post by atdeluca » August 2nd, 2010, 10:41 pm

Genre: Adventure / Commercial Science Fiction
Words: 250


To me, death would be a welcome visitor.

Yet there I stood, waiting for someone that would never arrive.

My eyes focused, through the dust I could see the soldier offering his hand to me. The sun behind him sent beams of yellow dancing as we cried out through smoke and ash. Odd that the sun would shine on a day like that.

I grabbed the soldiers hand.

It seemed we were headed to an alley. Those in my group followed the other two soldiers who weren’t far behind me and my own. Somewhere, blocks away perhaps, another boom shook the ground and rained dust and rocks and blood upon our heads. Still we ran.

“Get up against the wall!” My soldier called to the group. He had short blond hair and was taller than the others. His eyes were young, and found myself wondering how old he was. He looked about eighteen, so a quick calculation suggested he was around thirty. But of course, none of that mattered any longer.

We got up against the wall. Nate could hardly breath. He wouldn’t look me in the eye.

“Is everyone okay?” One of the camouflaged men spoke. He was the shortest of the group and the only one with a beret still atop his head.

Everyone was okay. Though it was noted that Henry, an old man, was tired and nearing his limits. Little could be done, and we had no chance but to push on until we found safety.

Posts: 4
Joined: January 16th, 2010, 5:23 pm

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

Post by artrosch » August 3rd, 2010, 1:17 am

Title:The Gods Of The Gift
genre: Fantasy

When he was nine years old, Garuvel Nep Zing discovered that he could disappear. He was sitting in a white gazebo on the family estate. It was hidden by tall slender evergreens to the rear of the Great House, at the end of a sloping lawn. The spot was remote from the prying eyes of his family. No one knew he came here. No one made vids of his every little move. His father, The Baron, made a practice of evaluating his most ordinary habits. Even his posture, the very expressions on his face were subject to his father’s carping.

The Baron had a long catalogue of maxims. :“You should at all times wear a commanding expression.” This was a favorite. “Betray no doubt or weakness, even when you think you are alone.”

Garuvel was not stern by nature. His efforts to look commanding only brought jokes that he looked constipated.

Little finches nested in the stately spires, and Garuvel watched them land and disappear twittering inside the aromatic branches. Occasionally he acted as the finchs’ protector against black-feathered zilfs.
He admired the finches. The way they prevented zilfs from stealing their eggs was to band together. They worked as a team, decoying, confusing, mobbing the fat-winged zilfs with their agile little bodies.

Garuvel had no such system of defense. With the exception of his mother, his kin seemed bent on pushing him out of the nest so that younger brother Verleth could accede to the position of Firstborn.

Posts: 2
Joined: June 18th, 2010, 9:18 pm

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

Post by KareeniaRN » August 3rd, 2010, 7:47 am

Karen Nolan

Title: The Prayerful Nurse
Genre: Non-fiction

The phone rang, 7:53 in the evening, “Get the Operating Room ready now, we have a leaking abdominal aneurysm in the ER and we’re bringing him right up.” All staff available jumped into high gear, each with a defined purpose. One of the nurses grabbed the large cold, stainless steel emergency AAA cart, always kept full of supplies available containing everything imaginably needed for that particular case. On wheels and extremely cumbersome, the heavy cart was rushed it into O.R. number one. Everyone else in the area not involved with the case became aware it was a major deal because the cart was so heavy and in motion. It sounded like an enormous thundering train rolling across the cream color tiled floor, without the effort of an engine. The unfortunate familiar rumble turned everyone’s eyes into that direction and the mood of the operating room become dark and somber.

Anesthesia techs were running down the echoing hallway with their own emergency cart, which included difficult airway equipment and intravenous supplies. Another employee ran into the operating room with the Level II warmer. This machine was critically needed for rapidly delivering fluid as well as life sustaining blood. I looked down the hall and observed the surgeon and anesthelogist, a vision not usually seen doing this particular job, pushing the patient who was aware, yet, gasping with each rough intake of air. I quickly assessed the man and noted he was in grave condition.

Posts: 32
Joined: April 30th, 2010, 8:15 pm

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

Post by chris13 » August 3rd, 2010, 2:28 pm

Christine Kuehn Kelly

Genre: YA fantasy
Word count: 247

Roiseen pushed open the rehearsal room door with the tip of her violin case. She didn't notice the slanting sunbeam until she stumbled over it, setting a heavy black music stand rocking. Sheet music scattered across the scuffed floor.

The orchestra director glared. "Ms. O'Reilly, may we proceed?" One of the first violins in the front row snickered. "Freak," she hissed.

Roiseen slumped in her seat, sucking an oozing finger. A drop of bright blood landed on one of her black cowboy boots and quivered there.

Her childhood friend Heather was waving energetically from across the room. The floppy bow on her lace blouse bounced against the strings on her ornate orchestra harp, making a muted sound.

Another snicker from the A-list in front.

Roiseen pretended not to notice as she took out her music and squinted. Debussy or Mozart? She casually tilted her head toward her neighbor for a better view.

Catherine smirked and tapped Roiseen on the shoulder with her violin bow, leaving a smudge of white rosin. "Didn’t practice again?"

Roiseen shrugged and spread out the sheets. It was the Debussy, of course, with the irritating harp solo. From the corner of her eye she could see Heather bouncing up and down. She reluctantly made a slight hand wave. Heather beamed and tossed her long, shiny hair.

"Oooh, you made her day," said Catherine, eyebrows lifted in anticipation. "Let's pretend we love her solo."

Roiseen bit her lip. Heather could take care of herself.

Posts: 8
Joined: August 3rd, 2010, 5:45 pm

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

Post by kymberry » August 3rd, 2010, 5:54 pm

YA Steampunk
word count 253

“Why is it so hot here?”

“It’s the south and its summer.”

I stopped and turned to look at my little brother. He smiled innocently and waited for me to start up the narrow
animal trail once again. Wow, I thought, only ten and already capable of such blatant sarcasm. I almost felt proud.

“I’m aware of that Pip,” I said wanting him to understand the real reason behind my question. “But right here,” I pointed down at my feet. “Right now, it’s hotter.”

He just stared at me like I had suddenly switched to an alien tongue.

“Forget it.” I told him then started up the trail again.

It was getting hotter and I couldn’t account for it. That’s what really bothered me. In the real world there was a reason for everything, and the already hot air, getting even hotter in the shade of the forest I was now tromping through, just didn’t make sense. I made a quick decision to kick this strange idea out of my head. I had too many other things to think about right then.

I kept up a steady pace not paying much attention to where I was going, determined to put as much distance as I could between myself and the new unwanted future waiting behind me.

The truth was I was angry. No, angry was not a strong enough word. Livid. I was livid, and not just because it was miserably hot, not to mention so humid I could wring out my clothing.
Last edited by kymberry on August 4th, 2010, 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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