Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Posts: 3
Joined: August 17th, 2010, 2:21 pm

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

Post by hyoussef » August 17th, 2010, 2:25 pm

Title: Immovable Objects
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Words: 249

Janet always made the same wish. For the last ten years, anyway. When she lost an eyelash, saw a shooting star, or, like today, when she blew out the candles on her birthday cake. It wasn’t a real birthday cake, just a slice from the glass display at the front of the coffee shop. But the wish still counted.

I wish Melissa didn’t exist.

Sam hadn’t even seen Melissa in over five years. But he’d been engaged to her, so she meant something. As much as Janet wanted to believe her husband’s first love was ugly and stupid, she knew that wasn’t the case. If Sam had loved her, she was special.

“I hope it comes true.” Wendy stuck a fork into the cream cheese icing on her sister’s cake. “Mmm. I love carrot cake.” She closed her eyes. Her head bobbed back and forth in time to the song on the radio.

Janet couldn’t make out the words over the conversation of other customers, but she recognized Peter Cetera’s voice. She pulled the candle out and licked it clean, thinking she should have made a different wish. Forget Melissa, just bring her husband home. “I miss Sam.”

“God,” Wendy poked her finger into the frosting and popped it in her mouth, “he’s only been gone two days.”

“He’s never missed my birthday before.”

Wendy didn’t realize the panic Janet felt when Sam left her alone. She’d call it the result of their mother leaving when Janet was twelve.

Neil Larkins
Posts: 15
Joined: August 17th, 2010, 2:13 pm

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

Post by Neil Larkins » August 17th, 2010, 4:27 pm

Title: Destiny's Hammer
Genre: Early teen Fantasy/Adventure
Word count: 246

If she could get her stupid crutches to work better she'd never be late to class. Buy why expect more? Crutches were crutches, mere sticks of wood held together with bolts after all, not meant as substitute for functioning legs. Besides, this was her third pair since she was two. If she couldn't get them to do her bidding by now, 1962 these twelve years hence, she never would.

Ah well, not that her being late mattered. Even if the last bell had sounded the entire room would be in chaos when she arrived, just as always -- and as always, the teacher taking her time in bringing sanity to the madhouse.

She'd wished oh-so more than once this daily melee would cloak her arrival, but such was never the case...and not today.

Now she opened the door and with the same difficulty as always. Now like ever before, the cacophany ceased at her appeance. Dead silence. (Funny, she thought, that she could bring order to this bunch when Mrs. Shamm couldn't.) She entered the room and the despised sound of her heavy, orthopedic shoes alternately clomping-dragging across the wood floor refilled the air and drew all eyes upon her.

She felt as though a giant neon sign jutted from her head flashing on and off in garish red, yellow and green.

"LOOK AT ME," its colors screamed, "FRANCES H. HAMMER, THE TOWN FREAK, IS HERE!"
Last edited by Neil Larkins on January 19th, 2011, 12:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 2
Joined: August 17th, 2010, 7:51 pm

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

Post by kevins » August 17th, 2010, 8:13 pm

Flight of the Swallows
Coming of Age

Madison wiped the condensation from the mirror and spoke to his reflection. “June, it’s obvious I can’t bring to this relationship what you deserve.” He swirled the razor through a berg of foam. “Don’t say deserve. Sounds rehearsed.”
They had met when Madison dropped into June’s real estate office. Some “dash-outs” to inspect some new listings, a Realtor/buyer strategy session over drinks, then dinners; in a few weeks June had found the unique fixer-upper Madison was looking for, and Madison found himself in a budding relationship, which, like the mortgage, had variable interest.
“Right now I need to concentrate on my career,” Madison said out of the corner of his mouth while working the blade over his chin, “and I care for you too much to lead you on.” He dunked the razor into the sink. “That works.” He might tweak the lead you on part, make it sound less like he was somehow irresistible, but definitely he wouldn't say break-up. He’d emphasize slow down.
He splashed water on his face and decided to make the call Sunday before brunch with his mother. No. Better after brunch. Mom and June; they call each other. He’d deal with his mother later. Madison removed the towel around his waist and frowned at his naked outline in the fog, pinching what appeared to be the beginning of a love handle. He considered calling right then, figuring there was no best time. Get it over with before music theory class. “She’s probably still asleep.”
Sunday, after brunch, yeah; that’s the best time.

One of the Mad Ones
Posts: 77
Joined: July 14th, 2010, 12:54 am
Location: southern New Mexico... almost old Mexico

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

Post by One of the Mad Ones » August 17th, 2010, 8:28 pm

A Room by the Sea
Literary Fiction

The winter before I turned ten, when the days were short and bruise-like and the city was constantly tearing down the beaver dam behind our trailer park, I saw dead birds everywhere, lying in shadows and at the edges of woods. Beautiful black birds with oil-slicked wings that caught the little bit of light in them. Yellow eyes that seemed big, although they were the size of BBs. They kept dying, and I was the only one to notice.

That was the beginning, those dying birds. I knew it – or I felt it at least: something bad was coming.

One morning, a raven missing one foot hopped and stretched her mangled wings by the bus stop, just her and me. She hopped and fluttered and cocked her head at me like I might know how to help her, but I didn’t. I watched her until the bus came and, for the rest of the day, had no way to speak or swallow or erase the image of her from my mind. I planned, when I got off the bus, to find her and take her home in my lunch box, cradle her to my chest so she wouldn’t be scared. But the bird wasn’t there, and a new layer of snow had filled in the prints of her one forked foot and my two shoes.

I asked my mother why the birds kept dying. She hadn’t seen them, little round bodies in the snow with stiff feathers splayed by the wind.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 9:26 am

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

Post by tanglewoodtracey » August 17th, 2010, 11:04 pm

Last edited by tanglewoodtracey on October 9th, 2010, 7:24 am, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 18th, 2010, 4:22 am

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

Post by WendyKay » August 18th, 2010, 4:28 am

Title: Slip Stream
Genre: adult SciFi romance
(251 words)

Katje stormed out of the building. “Oh great!” She shouted - exasperated. “Could this day get any better?” While she was inside, the sky had turned from pale blue to something unseen behind the rain that came down in sheets. She held her briefcase over her head and ran across the quad to the parking lot. As she curved around Student Services, she saw what looked like her car’s hood poking out from beneath a pile of seaweed. Long, red and rectangular with seaweed dripping down its headlights. It made no sense. It looked like there had been a flood while she was inside. The car was absolutely drowned. She walked up to it and pulled a strand of the foul smelling plant from the top of the pile. As she walked along the driver’s side, she realized that the pile wasn’t covering her car – it was in her car. “No bloody way! This is what I get for being in a sodding rush.” She shook her head in desperate frustration, positive that she had put the top up on the 1967 Fairlane. Her classic car was ruined. How was she ever going to get all that seaweed out?

As Katje unleashed her fury on the pile, raking the seaweed off with clawing hands, the weight of the load lightened and the car’s body tipped backwards and up. Her jaw dropped. It made no sense, but she was pleased as the seaweed scattered into a pile on the ground behind her.

Posts: 80
Joined: August 18th, 2010, 2:38 pm

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

Post by beeboo15 » August 18th, 2010, 2:41 pm

Title: The Case of the S*** Plant Shooting
Genre: Humor/Suspense
Word Count: 248

“I don’t want to die smelling like urine.”

Casey Cumber watched a used condom float by. What the heck am I doing in the boat in the middle of the sewage treatment plant, anyway? And how did I manage to turn it over? A stabbing pain made him gasp, and he reflexively placed his hand on the back of his head. A giant lump formed. He pulled his hand away—no blood. Had he been hit?

He tried, yet again, to throw his heavy leg over the side of the small overturned rowboat, cursing the day ten years ago, when he started working at Decatur Sewage Treatment Plant.

Casey heard shouting and looked toward shore at the man waving his arms. Great. Big Mouth Turner raced for another rowboat.

“I'm so fired!” A wad of toilet paper floated toward him like the perfect irony—his life had been going down the toilet since Angie left him last month.

Fading into unconsciousness, he watched Turner paddling wildly toward him. Casey hadn't decided whether he wanted to be saved or not.

As in the twilight of a dream, he heard splashing and felt a jolt. Voices. Then rough hands grabbed him. He tried fighting but was too weak. Consciousness was slipping away again. "No," he muttered, "I love you." Another sudden jolt and he was out cold.

Casey awakened flat on his back on cold concrete to Turner’s voice. "Whatddya mean give him CPR! He has shit on his mouth!"

Posts: 1
Joined: August 19th, 2010, 1:19 am

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

Post by smcclune » August 19th, 2010, 1:25 am

Fairies Living At The Bottom Of The Garden
Suburban Fantasy

Edna stomped into the kitchen and threw her gardening gloves onto the counter with more than her usual vehemence. "There are fairies," she announced, her nose wrinkled in disgust. "Living at the bottom of the garden."

My heart sank. "What kind?"

"How should I know? Do I look like a fairyologist? Besides, I haven't seen 'em. But they left a fairy circle behind, and a good bit of rubbish."

“Maybe … maybe they were just passing through?”

My sister looked at me over the tops of her bifocals. “Beryl. Really?”

“You can’t blame me for hoping something will go right this year, can you?” I stripped off my rubber gloves. “Well, I suppose I’d better have a look."

As I pushed my way through the overgrown shrubs at the far end of the yard, guilt washed over me. The landscaping had been Thomas’ pride and joy; he’d always taken such good care of it all. Now that he wasn’t here to do it, I just couldn’t keep up with that and the housework and … and everything else besides.

“Over here.” Edna, just ahead of me, pushed a lilac branch out of the way. It slipped from her hand and sprang back, thwacking me in the chin.

“Ouch dammit, Eddy!” Tears sprang to my eyes as I raised a hand to check for blood. A red smudge stained my fingers.

“Oh, Bear, I’m sorry!” She pulled a hankie out of her pocket, wet a corner with her tongue, and reached for my face.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 16th, 2010, 12:14 am

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

Post by Bhushan » August 19th, 2010, 11:06 pm

Literary Fiction

At seventeen minutes past midnight the green blob at the top-left corner of the LCD screen flickered and spat red, sending a shiver through Trib’s knees, like a fax machine shuddering in anticipation of a document. A trickle of sweat slid over his temples. He gripped the table’s edge and pressed it hard until the pain in his thumbs ousted the torment of his defeat. This is the end, he thought. The planes won’t fly. The project will die. You messed up. Then a life-long contempt for injustice and bugs took over. He released his grip and said to Guha, “I want another shot.”

“Another shot,” Guha said. He looked at Subhadra. “See his guts? After all the shit he created he wants to mess up more.”

Subhadra tugged her ear-lobe and wrinkled her forehead. She picked a tissue paper from the pile in front of her and flicked it over the table, as if nudging a dead knight on the chessboard.

“The next flight takes off only in two hours,” Trib said to Guha. “My boys are working on two leads. I have hope.”

Guha darted a glance at his BlackBerry shivering on the table. He stood. He clasped the phone, turned his back towards Trib and Subhadra and said, “Sir.”

Guha reserved “Sir” for only one man in the Company, and the implication seemed to have hit Subhadra. She walked towards the white-board besides the screen.

Trib perched on the chair and thought of the passengers.
By Bhushan.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 20th, 2010, 6:36 pm

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

Post by gradyke » August 20th, 2010, 7:20 pm

Title: Room at the Top
Genre: Thriller
Word Count: 247

Ten million dollars should get you something better to eat than mud.

Ethan Williams was paid ten million last year as CEO of Allegant Texcor, but that didn’t stop him from shoving his mouth into the sodden forest floor. He landed there after a shot gouged the tree next to him. The second shot splattered more mud in his mouth and made the urge to stand and scream at whoever was shooting almost overwhelming. Terror or maybe just common sense held him back. Spitting mud and leaves, he decided it was a bad day to hunt deer.

It had started as a great day. A soft sunrise gave the forest a warm glow. Ethan planned to spend eight hours in the woods, away from fawning executives and annoying shareholders. He bought the 200 acres to hunt alone, even if only one day a year. Sometimes hunters would trespass, but usually Ethan didn’t make big deal out of it. Of course, usually they didn’t take shots at him.

Five minutes had passed since he ate mud. Cautiously, he stood. Ethan saw blood splatter on the leaves before he heard the bullet or felt the pain of it piercing his back and exploding out his chest. Gazing at the many hued tree canopies, he fell, certain that today was a very bad day to hunt deer.

The shooter felt for a pulse and smiled. He pulled his hand away from the lifeless body and blended back into the forest.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 21st, 2010, 5:25 pm

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

Post by bwlrgrl300 » August 21st, 2010, 5:40 pm

Title: Betrayed
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 241

I was so screwed.

No matter how many times I ran the scenario through my head, it ended the same way. Outsized, outmatched, outmuscled, and generally outdone on every level, I was going to lose. This birthday sucked.

Speaking of birthdays, one thing I’d never received as a gift was a black eye. I wasn’t about to start now. I spun away, barely avoiding the punch. A gush of wind brushed against my cheek while the momentum of the missed blow carried my assailant past me. I danced away, evading another wild grab, took two steps and froze.

Crap. Dead end. What now?

I gritted my teeth. He couldn't have it. No matter how entitled he felt, it belonged to me. My grip tightened. Nothing, not even a wall blocking my escape, would force me to relinquish my hold. I clutched the coveted item against my stomach to keep it from his reach.

He didn’t bother to hide his strategy; he just attacked. His body slammed into my back, pitching me forward a few steps until I caught my balance. He used his extra foot of height as leverage. His hands gripped mine, prying them away from what I safeguarded.

His fingers dug desperately while his arms, an iron-tight vise, locked mine to my side. His controlled breaths, hot against my cheek, reminded me that he was trained for this and I wasn’t.

This was it. This was where I lost.

Posts: 6
Joined: May 18th, 2010, 6:45 pm

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

Post by mommalikabooty » August 22nd, 2010, 11:32 am

Title: The Suburban Spy
Genre: Women's Thriller

Hitting a bimbo with my car should have been the most exciting event of my day. Especially because that bimbo was the same one who’d pushed her cleavage in my husband’s face at the Sellner’s dinner party last week.

Not that I hit her with my car because of how she came onto my husband.

I swear.

But it just so happened that hitting this particular bimbo with my car on this particular morning instigated a chain of events much more exciting than the ding in my hood, her broken leg, or the simple fact of running down bimbos outside of Kirkland Elementary School. It instigated a chain of events where I, Liz Murdock, became a spy.

I’d been sitting in the drop-off lane of Kirkland Elementary for fifteen minutes trying to calm my impatience while Rose Tamblyn de-latched her son, Devon, from her midsection where he was hanging like a monkey-- and screeching like one, too.

It was Thursday, Mom’s Morning Out for my fifteen-month-old baby, Matilda, who goes to East United Baptist because they have a lovely older woman there who looks just like her Grandma Marie. I rely on this woman’s physical resemblance to get some rare alone-time. I’m also forced to pull out the ‘good snacks’, aka juice boxes and Chips Ahoy snack packs, before sneaking out of the Baptist church, leaving my baby in a sugar-induced haze.

Posts: 4
Joined: July 20th, 2010, 10:55 am

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

Post by Harv » August 23rd, 2010, 10:28 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?

Posts: 1
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 10:44 am

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

Post by egoodlett » August 23rd, 2010, 10:46 am

Title: Stray
Genre: YA Dystopian
(242 words)

For the third time this week, someone has jacked my ride.

I stand at the corner of Broadway and 17th, exactly where I know I tied it up. But there's no gondola to be found. How desperate are these shitheads, to steal the leakiest, ugliest boat in New York City? I'm sure they'll abandon it as soon as the bubble-gum plugging the cracks in the prow pops out, but that ain't the point.

“Bastards,” I mutter to myself, and hock a loogie into the vomit-colored canal water. That's when I hear the voices.

It's hard to see – the streetlights stand two stories overhead, set along the posh walkways for the rich and privileged. Us gutter rats are the only ones who skulk about canal-side, unless a rich lady stoops to catch a water taxi. The wealthy all ride the subways anyway. Ever since they renovated the ancient train tunnels, us gondoliers have been shit-outta-luck.

Which is probably why someone was crazy enough to steal my hunk of junk boat.

The voices get closer. I stare, wide-eyed, as the approaching vessel passes through a patch of light. These thieves are nuts. They've returned to the scene of the crime, and in my boat no less.

I press my back to the grimy wall and wrap the men's trench coat I'm wearing around my body. One advantage of my midnight-dark skin: all I gotta do is close my eyes and I'm damn near invisible.

Posts: 2
Joined: July 13th, 2010, 1:01 am

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

Post by svramey » August 23rd, 2010, 2:19 pm

Title: Glazed
Genre: crime caper
(250 words)

Vinnie glanced at the wall clock, then his watch. Ten 'til eight. He'd told Mikey to be here by quarter 'til. Quarter 'til. Mikey was a little slow on the uptake, but he knew this was important. Vinnie could be pushing up roses if he didn't get the combination to Edward by noon. The Black Hand didn't mess around.

The door swung open and Vinnie's gut relaxed. "Mikey! My man! You're late."

Grinning, Mikey came into the Dunkin' Donuts, pulling the kid by one strap of his backpack. The kid was twelve or thirteen, all arms and legs and zits. Did I used to look like that? Vinnie felt a certain nostalgia.

The kid's eyes were too clear.

"Ain't you prepped him yet?"

Mikey shrugged. "His Ma didn't want him eating junk for breakfast."

"Key-rhist." Vinnie turned to the kid. "I hope you didn't fill up on good food."

"Always room for the Double-D." The kid shook off Mikey, and sat opposite Vinnie. He set the backpack nearer the window. "As long as donuts isn't all that's in this for me."

"Sure," Vinnie said. "Like I told you--"

"Because last time, we had that little misunderstanding, right?"

The kid's glare was so piercing Vinnie looked away. "Get him a dozen glazed," he told Mikey.

"And a drink," the kid added. "Some serious thirstation here."

"Dozen glazed and a soda," Mikey said, heading toward the counter.

"You were saying?" the kid prompted.

"Get me in, I'll buy you a Gameboy."


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