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: August 11th, 2010, 12:33 am

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

Post by aef4now » August 11th, 2010, 12:44 am

Title: Blood Traitor
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
(222 words)

The smell hit Jerrod before he got out of the car.

He pulled up behind the two parked patrol cars, killed the engine, and scrubbed the fatigue from his face with his hands. His upper canine teeth elongated and sharpened at the rich coppery tang of blood.  He flicked his tongue over them to make sure they weren’t fully extended and hauled himself out of the car, the howling wind off the Bay slicing through his thin coat. Thank God he knew enough to eat before going to a crime scene.

A patrol officer hurried toward him as he slammed the car door. Jerrod flashed his badge and the officer pivoted back to help corral the restless crowd. Even in the middle of a cold night, death brought out the ghoulish. Jerrod shook his head. Some things never change no matter how long you live.

Jerrod paused at the dingy studio apartment’s threshold and peered inside. An Hispanic woman sprawled face down on the floor in front of a blood-sprayed bassinet. A motionless child, still partly covered by a pink blanket, lay awkwardly twisted in the pooling blood. Across the room, an Hispanic man sat on the floor, his brains splattered on the wall behind him, a shotgun propped between his legs pointing at what was left of his head.

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Joined: August 11th, 2010, 2:53 am

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

Post by Ruthie » August 11th, 2010, 3:51 am

Title: Beautiful Sweet
Genre: YA Fantasy-ish
Wordcount: 248

Lulu toiled for hours. Her old body struggled to bring her child to the world. And then, the small crowd outside their hut heard the last squeal of pain. Her miracle was here at last.

The midwife took the tiny infant, a triumphant smile spread across her lips. One look though, and her mouth pulled back, her eyes widened.

“What is it? What's wrong?” Lulu asked. She weakly raised her wet gray head from the grass mat.

The midwife's face was smooth and calm again. She silently handed the babe to her mother.

Lulu held the warm, moist baby to her bosom and looked at her daughter for the first time. She knew the reason for the midwife's horror.

Her baby was ugly.

The newborn looked up with eyes that were large dark circles. They were nothing like the beautiful almonds Lulu admired in her husband. Her nose was small and dainty. Not like the wide, round nose that she had. And her hair was abundant, but stuck straight up like the monkeys that chattered in the jungle nearby.

Lulu kissed the tiny nose. “Ama is here, dear little one.” She hummed a melody of love.

The midwife stood, her head tilted in wonderment. After a moment she left to fetch Asoka so he could meet his daughter.

He hesitantly peered around the doorway. His nose wrinkled from the sticky smell of the room. He sighted the aftermath.

“Come,” Lulu beckoned. “See your daughter.”
Last edited by Ruthie on October 4th, 2010, 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 57
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 1:42 pm

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

Post by Jaligard » August 11th, 2010, 1:47 pm

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 245

For Vittoria Serafino, the first part of any proper assassination was the underwear. Taking someone else's form was no casual thing, and it helped to be thorough. She needed to be herself again, but what kind of person did she want herself to be? Confidence was in order and a certain amount of stylishness. A red lace thong. For the outfit, she ventured out of cast: a form-fitting white blazer and matching skirt. With over-sized sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, she stepped into Time Square as Vittoria once again.

Lunch was a table for three at Aureole. The crowd was thick but quiet. She strolled past the maître d' to find Marge Evenwood seated already, along with a young black woman.

Marge wore a pink blazer. She had the plumpness that came with age. The photo in her byline did not catch her friendly wrinkles or the rosy glow to her cheeks. Marge rose and offered a gloved hand. Vittoria shook it. She guessed Marge was a control-top panty hose type of girl.

"You must be Vittoria, a pleasure to meet you. I hope you don't mind if I brought an empath with me." Marge said, "This is Madison."

Madison was slim in a black wool overcoat. It was Target chic, probably with Hanes lace boy shorts underneath. Glasses perched on the edge of her nose. They matched her lips: narrow, but wide. Her handshake was little more than a brush.
Last edited by Jaligard on August 26th, 2014, 3:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 3:27 pm

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

Post by lookinglass » August 11th, 2010, 3:35 pm

Title: The Dragon's Pearl
Genre: YA urban fantasy
(246 wc)

The wall of the old Gangnam subway station was a museum for rusty signs: “No loitering,” “No smoking,” “No urinating,” “No magic,” and, for some reason, “No cameras.”

The homeless had set up camp against the wall as they stumbled about, stubbing out cigarettes or pissing in a corner.

Misha unzipped her bag. Four rolls of film and not one camera. She forgot to pack one this morning when she took the train downtown to buy more film.

Wish I had a cellphone.

Settling for less, she squared her thumbs and index fingers, then scanned left to right. First came the office workers, the schoolgirls, the taxpayers who waited listlessly by the edge of the platform. And at least three feet away, tucked safely against the wall, were the squatters.

From an early age, children were trained to ignore the homeless, to not point and ask, “Mommy, why’s that man missing a leg?” Misha still held onto her questions. She wondered where they came from, what their stories were. A soldier crippled by a fruitless war, a salesman who had gone bankrupt during the IMF, or even a demon in disguise, just wanting to feel the slightest bit human.

She lowered her hands. A teenage boy lingered by the exit, but he stepped aside to let a mother and her kid roll in, only to reach into the stroller’s knapsack and swipe a piece of candy. Two pieces, actually.

Stealing candy from a baby, the criminal.
Last edited by lookinglass on August 24th, 2010, 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 3
Joined: August 12th, 2010, 12:29 am
Location: Vacaville, CA

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

Post by cali-k8 » August 12th, 2010, 12:40 am

Title: Flash Over
Genre: Fiction
244 words

Women are an easy land for me. It is the one thing I am good at. This realization first came to me when I was in the third grade. Suzie Baker stole my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, my favorite by the way, out of my lunch box and replaced it with a tuna fish sandwich. Now, I hate tuna fish more than anything in this entire world. There is nothing you can bribe me with to get me to eat it. The smell alone makes me dry heave.

This was a problem I found myself faced with a lot growing up. Our high school cafeteria was in the basement of the building, which had horrible ventilation. It would get really warm in there because of all the ovens they had going. The heat was not always the worst part though; the awful stench of whatever mystery meat the lunch ladies were cooking was usually pretty bad too. Now, combined those two factors with teenage hormones and sweat glands working overtime, and you had a foul bouquet forming. But, to add to that smelly situation, someone would pull out a tuna fish sandwich from a brown paper bag and start to unwrap it.

My body had an advanced tuna fish detection system in it. It didn’t matter if that chicken of sea sandwich was on the other side of the room, I could smell it. When that stink hit my nostrils my stomach would churn.

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

Post by elfspirit » August 12th, 2010, 5:36 pm

Title: The Drunkard's Daughter
Genre: Mainstream Fiction
214 Words

The dead crowded Dara McBride's mind, vagrant souls who reeked of the mold and corruption of the grave. Crouching on the doorstep of her spirit, they sought a place to lay down their burden of bitter memories.

Clever and sly as tinkers they were. Sometimes they allowed her to fall into the false security of sleep before they grabbed the stuff of her dreams and stained them with nightmarish filth. They'd become bold enough to accost her in the light of day. Even now, when she was only sitting down to rest her legs after a morning of cleaning, she sensed the dead all around her, waiting for her vigilance to relax.

She opened her eyes and tried to get up, but the accursed ghosts had sewn lead bars into her knickers and poured water into her legs. Dizziness encircled her, thick as the damp mists of Ireland.

Dara told no one of these uninvited guests. Only let her family see a moment of her difficulty, a second of weakness, and they'd call her senile. They'd have her buried in one of those tombs called senior residences, where she'd be forced to walk about in her shift, a ghost herself. They'd keep her whisky from her. They'd take away her freedom.

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Mike Dickson
Posts: 104
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 2:37 pm
Location: Minneapolis

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

Post by Mike Dickson » August 13th, 2010, 2:49 pm

Title: None
Genre: Mafia thriller

Not the first page but the second

One afternoon Joe was looking to the local Italian Market shops for work when he spotted his mother getting harassed by some local thugs in their teens. They're trying to make names for themselves as small time-hoods and often picked on helpless people. They wear the same hats as a trademark, and rarely walk in groups fewer than three. He had the advantage of surprise and approached them unnoticed sweeping his broom under the feet of the first thug sending him crashing to the ground. Sizing the other two up as they turned around hearing the commotion behind them Joe stuck the broom handle into the mid section of the first boy and slapped the other in the face momentarily dazing him. He briefly looked to his mother; she was o.k, although appearing startled. Turning back to the fight Joe caught a right cross to the cheek and ducked at a left. Seeing an opening he stumbled off the curb and into the street hoping the boys would follow. To Joe’s surprise they too decided to run dodging the onlookers as they tried to shake off the unwanted attack. Back on his feet Joe bent over to pick up the spilled groceries bags. His mother still dazed sat on the curb catching her breath. His heart pumping he considered going after the boys to finish them off. He thought against it opting to sit next to his mother.

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Joined: August 14th, 2010, 4:10 pm

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

Post by thermossong » August 14th, 2010, 4:16 pm

Title: Ghosting
Genre: Mainstream Fiction
Words: 247

Zoran Belić barely heard the phone ring over the noise in the kitchen. The dinner rush was winding down and his staff at McCarthy Groves Steaks and Seafood had already given up cooking in favor of hazing the new fifteen year old busboy. Zoran was trying not to get involved, but was hovering nearby to make sure nothing got out of hand.

He picked up the receiver on the third ring, distracted by the commotion around him. It was the hostess at the front of the restaurant calling to let him know that his wife had arrived for dinner. He told her he'd be there in a minute and hung up the phone. Zoran undid the knotted buttons of his white chef's jacket and tossed the garment into one of the lockers that lined the back wall. “Hey,” he called to the staff as he made his way out of the kitchen, “Don't kill each other, all right?” He didn't wait for an answer.

He pushed through the swinging double doors that led into the restaurant's dining room. Inside, only a handful of tables were still occupied, but a small crowd hovered around the bar. One of the guests waved to him and said hello, but Zoran just gave him a quick wave back and continued out the back door. His wife, Lisa, was seated at their usual table at the far corner of the patio, as far away from the kitchen and the staff as possible.

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Joined: August 15th, 2010, 9:29 pm

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

Post by ruthd » August 15th, 2010, 10:59 pm

title: The Changers
genre: historical fantasy
word count: 250

Someone in the night had put the posters up on the door of every house of feminine comforts in Cochon. Come opening time the men all gathered round to look and read as best their letters allowed, waving the air in front of their faces with their hats; come dusk the posters were the talk of the town. It wasn’t that news was scarce, for someone was always getting up to something, even if it was just a brawl or a wager. It was that in Cochon, sad loneliness and bone-weariness and fear made folks clutch at any sort of comfort, be it soulful or sinful. And what was more comforting, more sustaining, better at keeping the long night at bay, than common talk? Folks seized upon the sudden appearance of these posters as upon a banquet.

The posters read:

The Revelator Rides Again!
Are you BRAVE? Are you STRONG? Do you want to WORK?
We are laying rails from Cochon to Abilene & we will pay you good pay to work! We have our Certificate of Incorporation IN HAND! You will be paid on time & IN CASH! Work steady or work by the day. No reasons required, & no questions asked.
This is not a lie or a trick! This is an offer of HONEST WORK.
At sunset tomorrow, Mr. Webster Himself & In Person will explain all.

The next day, when Sam came into town, at first he thought someone had been shot. Or married maybe.

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Posts: 58
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by airball » August 15th, 2010, 11:33 pm

Title: York Rebellions
Genre: Historical Mystery
Words: 244

On the night that I delivered Mercy Harris of a bastard child, the King’s soldiers burned the city’s suburbs and fell back within its walls to await the rebel assault. I received the call to Mercy’s bedside as we were finishing supper, and by then the fires were at their worst. I made my way from my home in St. Helen’s parish, past the Minster’s towering spires, toward the warren of streets and alleys that make up St. Savior’s parish. My servant Luke followed closely, holding in one hand a the small valise containing my tools, and in the other a lantern to aid me in my work. The streets around us were thronged with civilians racing home with whatever food they had found in the shops, their eyes filled with fear. We reached Mercy’s door and I paused and gazed up at the Minster, as the smoke from the burning homes poured into the summer sky. The Lord affect us with the sad fruits of wasting wars.

“Go home,” I told Luke. “The fire will unsettle the other servants. They’ll feel safer with you there.”

“Are you sure, my lady?” he asked. “It won’t be safe for you to return alone on a night such as this.”

“I’ll be fine,” I assured him. “It’s her first child, and she has refused to name the father. It will be a long night for her. For both of us. I won’t be home before daylight.”
Sam Thomas
Author of The Midwife's Story: A Mystery due out from St. Martin's Press in 2013
Team Blog=

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

Post by Harv » August 16th, 2010, 8:44 am

Title: Red Scarf
Genre: YA Historical
(241 words)

The beginning of the end for my family was the knock at the door.
It was after midnight when it roused me from a fitful sleep. My parents had spent the night arguing, so my dreams had been filled with great terror and a sense of impending doom. I could still hear them now; moving about in the study, opening cupboards and trying hard not to be heard in the glacial Russian twilight.
When the second knock came, louder and more prolonged I got out of bed, tiptoed to the window and looked down into the courtyard. That’s when I saw the Black Maria, axle deep in the dirty grey snow, its side emblazoned with the mocking slogan – ‘Moscow’s finest cuts.’
I knew then that they’d come for my father.

“Sonia, wake Kolya and get dressed.”

My father stood in the doorway, ashen faced and wearing his finest grey suit. He held an envelope tightly in his hand.

“Pack some clothes, dress warm and take this.”

He gave me the envelope.

“Hide it carefully and don’t open it until you’re alone or with someone you trust.”

He paused.

“No. Show no-one, trust no-one.”

Then he kissed me and left the room.

Kolya was fast asleep, his little body hidden beneath the blankets. I listened to his breathing and tried to decide what I should tell him. Should I be honest and say father had been arrested?

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Joined: August 16th, 2010, 9:26 am

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

Post by ria » August 16th, 2010, 9:41 am

Title: Artificer
Genre: Fantasy
Words: 253

* * *

“We have damned the world,” Adriel said.

“Come again,” Zachery said.

They stopped at the pond, where Zachery fished some crumbs from his pocket and tossed them towards the ducks. Overhead, the shops and homes of the upper city clung to the walls of Drieh’s three lofty towers. A few rays of morning sunshine dove through chinks between the buildings only to flounder in the gossamer fog among the trees.

“I’ve felt ripples of energy,” Adriel said. “Here on Altara. And in the netherial. I picked it up a few months ago, and it gets worse every few weeks.”

He hadn’t felt anything of the sort, and his work relied on the netherial. “And what does this have to do with us damning Altara?”

“I traced its energy signature back as far as I could and it originates with the Calamity. Something we did back then is building up to... something.”

He let crumbs fall from his fingers onto the water’s surface. “This makes no sense, Adriel. No one else has felt anything. What you’ve described is impossible.”

“I only brought this up because I thought you’d care. And I thought you might have felt something in your portals.”

Zachery looked across the pond. A portal rose between the trees at the far end of the park, two slender pillars of dark rock curving toward each other with an arch of pure magic suspended between them. Anchor and focus, two simple elements that made up one of the most complex constructs on Altara.
Last edited by ria on April 3rd, 2014, 9:31 pm, edited 9 times in total.
My livejournal occasionally has posts about writing.

Posts: 210
Joined: August 16th, 2010, 12:44 pm

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

Post by stephmcgee » August 16th, 2010, 12:49 pm

Title: Lodestar
Genre: Urban/contemporary fantasy

Every ounce of flesh vibrated with the motion of his bomber. The stars above him glowed like little beacons, calling him somewhere he longed to go but was unable. They also taunted him, as if they knew the missiles were closing in fast.

“Watch your six, Van Gogh,” Captain McGraph bellowed over the comm. Derek checked his monitors. He could see their little blips on his radar screen telling him they were there behind him. The desert below him receded as he nosed his bomber into a sharp climb. A long, mid-pitched tone sounded in his headset. The missiles were in range. He didn’t have any long-range weapons to deploy against them. Derek eyed the eject button. Too much altitude. The stars twinkled in the sky above him. He pinpointed Ursa Major and Pegasus, two of his favorite constellations. The nose of the plane evened out with Enif, Pegasus’ brightest star. He fell into a steep dive. The headset wailed at him again. He felt his legs begin to lift just a touch off the seat as he went weightless. He whooped and hollered at the sensation. Some day. Checking the screen in front of his cockpit window again he saw the enemy missiles disappear out of target. He could just assume they’d acquired a different target or destroyed each other. He leveled off at an altitude of thirty-thousand feet.

“Well done, Lieutenant. Bring her home.”

“Yessir” Derek looked heavenward again.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 16th, 2010, 2:08 pm

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

Post by Bleu » August 16th, 2010, 2:12 pm

Title: Above Average
Genre: Middle grades, adventure
(250 words)

Bleu looked at the window and the frost covering the dark glass. It reminded her of the chill that coursed through her body and the fact that she couldn’t find her house coat to suppress the cold. She sat shivering in the kitchen, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich grasped in her fingers. Just then Mrs. Day came sleepily down the stairs. Bleu was sure she would never be able to sleep without a gate at her door again.

“What are you doing up, Bleu?” Mrs. Day, her mother, said yawning, “It's almost three.”

“I know what time it is, but I got hungry,” The little girl replied. She tried to lick a smudge of jelly off her chin, but she couldn’t seem to get it.

“Why didn’t you come get me?” Mrs. Day asked in her naturally sing-song voice, taking a napkin to Bleu’s face. She had dark circles around her eyes and her brow was furrowed. A frown settled on her face. The cheery voice that escaped her mouth did not seem to match the battered looking person in front of Bleu.

“Because I knew you would say no,” Bleu said with a hint of sass in her voice.

“No, I wouldn’t if I knew you were really hungry.”

“But you wouldn’t know and you would send me back to my room.”

Posts: 1
Joined: August 16th, 2010, 2:43 pm

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

Post by Jeffrey » August 16th, 2010, 2:50 pm

Title: The Machiavel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
244 words

Mister Bob sat across from me in the din of a nightclub called Virgil. Dressed in a brown business suit and matching tie he looked distinctly out of place. Virgil has provided entertainment, if you can call it that, for the more discerning Goth for the last three or four years. It is, in fact, the hottest Goth club in Milwaukee, not that you could tell from the décor. I always thought it was sort of a dive.

Virgil, its pounding beats unpleasantly throbbing every part of my body, is populated with Goth kids, adults who used to be Goth kids and the living dead. About half the clientele are zombies, most of whom weren’t cool enough to get inside the club while their hearts still beat. A visit to Yssenia Cortez, Milwaukee’s very own necromancer for hire, fixes that problem. Suicide scars are visible on any number of them. The dead always get into Virgil for free. Some of the wait staff are ghouls, too. I’m not a huge fan of ghouls, but these aren’t interested in eating the customers, so who am I to complain?

So I sat in my regular booth, dressed as an expensive imitation of a Goth, and listened to Mister Bob. That’s not his name. I call all my clients Mister Bob. Because I can. There’s a full dossier on him, and the man he wants me to send demons to kill, at home with the necessary details.


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