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 Ce3 » August 26th, 2010, 1:01 pm

Title: Valley of the Blue
Genre: Fiction (thriller)

Dear Nathan,
Enclosed is the beginning (and maybe prologue-even though I know you don't care for them) of my new novel set in the Oklahoma oil fields and Colorado mountains.
Thanks for offering the opportunity for a critique.
C Loomis

Big Stu Valentine worked the Oklahoma oil fields as a pumper, a good paying job that consisted of driving country roads to check on producing oil and gas wells to make sure the properties were pumping correctly and their run reports were properly turned into the respective oil companies. It was a plum job for a guy without much formal education.
Big Stu was a smart and large handsome man over six feet tall with wide shoulders and even wider stomach. He had a voracious appetite for fried country food and copious amounts of alcohol but he was good at what he did and the farmers and land owners trusted him, not only because he looked out for their interests but also he often stopped to chat with them along the dusty roads of Oklahoma oil country.
It was during those years working the oil fields he befriended a widowed land owner named Everett Hightower, who refused to lease his land to any of the major oil companies. He always turned them down, even when they made outrageous offers to let them drill on his land and offered generous overriding royalties. This was not pocket change money but the kind of money that could be worth millions from a single well.
Big Stu always admired Everett’s grit and the way he stood up against the big oil boys and the two of them became fast friends, drinking coffee together in Everett’s modest ranch house several times a week

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

Post by Ce3 » August 26th, 2010, 1:35 pm

Title: The Money Shot
genre: Fiction thriller

Jonathan ‘Fuzzy’ Byrd had fled his former life nearly three years ago tonight. This grueling ‘life on the run ’had effectively shattered his ‘ Life of Leisure' dream, for being a wanted man offered few peaceful moments. Were they lurking behind the next corner or waiting to kill him when he came home at night? Those constant aggravations and moving from town to town forced Fuzzy to live life on the edge and certainly kept him clear of dark alleys.
But tonight he tucked all those worries away.
His only interest was in her . . .
Casing out houses was old hat to Fuzzy, a guy who had turned B & E into a lucrative art. Yet things were different tonight, his primary interest was not in monetary gain but in the one thing he truly loved to do. You see, Fuzzy loved to watch and this was the super bowl for watchers.
He easily found his covert place on the steep hillside where he climbed to a comfortable vista atop a spreading limb of a magnificent Northern Pine. The huge tree was located behind her house and offered a perfect site above her tall privacy fence. A site line that presented not only the perfect place to hide, but also a panoramic view of everything within her villa walls.

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Joined: August 27th, 2010, 12:28 pm

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

Post by prity » August 27th, 2010, 12:33 pm

Last edited by prity on September 27th, 2010, 12:11 am, edited 3 times in total.

Posts: 296
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 1:26 pm
Location: Michigan

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

Post by Aimée » August 27th, 2010, 5:58 pm

Title: In the Periphery
Genre: Crime Thriller
Word Count: 255

"You're special Mike. I hope you know that." Those are the misconstruing words and the sly smile that Mickey hates so much. He just wants to hit him right in the mouth. Watch the blood seep out from between his teeth and watch him spit it. But he would spit it on him. Right there on his lap. If Mickey could reach, if he could wiggle his wrists free of the rope that was beginning to cut off the circulation in hands, then he would hit him. And after that, he would kill him.

But Mickey can't reach and Giuseppe can. He drives his fist into Mickey’s jaw where a short red stubble sprouts. Razors are in low supply in hell.

Mickey smirks. Lets the blood drip from his bottom lip to show how tough he really is. How tough he's pretending to be. "Don't think I haven't heard it all before." He says. Giuseppe turns away and growls. His hands are on his hips. "But Mike." Mickey raises his red eyebrows. "That's a new one."

"Oh really?" Giuseppe, a tall man, though it isn't that hard to be taller than Mickey, whips around to face him again. Mickey is forced to see into his menacing eyes. But can't really see them in the dark. Still scares him though. It makes him gulp down the glob that has been growing in his throat. He would wipe the bead of salty sweat from his forehead if his hands weren't tied around the back of the chair.

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Joined: August 27th, 2010, 8:38 pm

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

Post by spesh » August 27th, 2010, 8:41 pm

Title: Far from the Sea
Genre: Historical fantasy
Word count: 244

Anna should have felt guilty. Instead, something she could almost call relief bubbled up and tried to fill the empty spot inside her. It had been three weeks, since she had come. That was too long without the smell of brine and crash of waves. Here one needn’t work or think. Just be.

Chores waited back at the farm. Escaping with a basket over her arm she had left Ginny to do the baking, everything else would wait. The empty basket bounced against her hip as she walked waiting to be filled with berries and edible greens. But it was no more than an excuse; she had stayed away as long as she could.

A solitary lonely cove, no one came here except Anna. The shore was rock-strewn and uninviting. Little vegetation grew and what there was of it was short and bristly, doing nothing to soften the stark gray landscape. But it was the ocean she came for, to breathe the salt and feel the mist on her face and arms. Seeped into her clothing the smell would stay with her all day, a comfort and a gift, a memory of the place she longed for.

Each splash and spray enticed her and she had to listen, though she refused to act on its siren call. Anna loved the lawlessness, the crash and roar of the ocean. The immediacy, the sheer physical presence almost reminded her what it was to feel again.


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

Post by dpwriter » August 28th, 2010, 6:43 pm

Working Title: Undaunted
Genre: Memoir
(247 words - note I had to truncate last paragraph to meet the word count)

I guess I knew my marriage was over when I started to fantasize about my husband dying. I know, macabre. Brutal even. Every time the thought entered my head I tried to push it away, but sometimes the fantasy would force itself into my consciousness and make me go through the steps I imagined I would experience: shock, then genuine and deep grief, quiet mourning and gradually on to acceptance and resolve. I would skip the anger because that wouldn’t be honest – I wouldn’t be angry, this was the answer to my passive-ass desire for the dissolution of my marriage. I would be genuinely shocked and grief-stricken, but I think these emotions would pass quickly, turn to acceptance and then move, not gleefully, but maybe gratefully on to what would be the life I thought I wanted.

Of course I felt guilty every time my mind went there, a horrible, heart-squeezing, stomach-clenching guilt. I’d catch myself, shudder at my seeming evilness. Sometimes I’d look around fearing that someone, maybe Peter, could hear my thoughts.

We had a half-bath on the main floor of the townhouse we rented in the city where we both went to university and now worked. On the mirror over the sink, in the upper right-hand corner, was a tiny transparent sticker that read:

Several times throughout the day I feel
that something awful is about to happen.

in tiny black letters. I found it rather sinister and wondered why Peter put I there.

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

Post by alzada » August 28th, 2010, 6:59 pm

Title: Learning To Bend
Genre: Women's Fiction
Length: 241 words

By the time Adele was fifteen she was getting hard to handle and Sam was tired of her clinginess. She was starting to look like something other than jail bait and Sam was beginning to see her as a liability rather than an asset. He introduced her to heroin to get her off his back.
Sam had shaken Adele awake one afternoon, shoving a small brown packet in front of her nose, “Adele try this girl. I know you got the heebie jeebies, this’ll take the edge off.”
“No Sam, I know what that is and I don’t want any. I don’t want nothing to do with that crap.”
“Adele you’re going to try this. You’ve been out of kilter lately. This will put things right.”
“You promise Sam?”
“Yeah, I promise Adele.”
The heroin did the trick for a couple of years until Adele got so strung out that her habit was eating up all of their profits and her clientele slacked off because of her emaciated appearance.
Even emaciated, Adele was a looker, and Sam had a certain affection for her so he tolerated her until she was eighteen. When Adele turned eighteen Sam got her high and then hit her with the news, “I’m giving you a little warning, doll. It’s about time you and me parted ways.”
Adele, stoned, opened her eyes halfway and lifted her head off of the couch, saying, “What Sam, why?”

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

Post by suja12 » August 28th, 2010, 9:44 pm

Genre: YoungAdult
Length: 242 words

Sean ran swiftly through the woods, moisture seeping into his shoes from the wet underbrush. He risked a quick glance over his shoulder. The evening sunlight barely penetrated the branches overhead, creating shifting patterns of light. Leaves rustled, the trees sighed. Then other sounds drifted to his ears.
Crunching footsteps, twigs snapping, the rustle of a body brushing against the vegetation.
Sean stiffened and stepped behind a large tree, thankful that his dark suit offered some camouflage against the rough tree bark. He inched his lean frame around the trunk. His eyes probed the lengthening shadows between the trees, lips twisted in a bitter line. None of this would have happened if he had had the sense to call the EPA first as any agent would have done, instead of confronting Mr. Calvert.
A gentle breeze blew through and brought with it the stink of sweat and unwashed skin. A man stepped forward from behind a low branch - the man Mr. Calvert had sent after him. Small, hardly five foot, with ferret eyes and thin cruel lips. The man's head swiveled, eyes darting all over the place as he crept forward. The shadow behind him moved as well, and took the shape of another man, a much larger one. His thick fleshy face bore a rather stupid expression. But there was nothing stupid about the gun he held steady in his beefy hands.
Last edited by suja12 on October 28th, 2010, 9:59 pm, edited 12 times in total.

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Location: South Carolina

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

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 28th, 2010, 10:46 pm

Last edited by oldhousejunkie on September 9th, 2010, 10:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 9
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by epcaldwell » August 30th, 2010, 11:00 am

Return In Snow
Genre;Romance suspense RETURN IN SNOW 165,000 complete
Pamala Owldreamer/ EP Caldwell

Symon Brannigan, the only man she had ever loved was the last man on earth Caitlin Caldwell O’Brian wanted to see and the only man she wanted to see. Just her luck, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Waving goodbye, Caitlin shoved through the door of the town’s only grocery store. She pause outside as the frigid air hit her. “Jesus.” she hissed. The temperature must have dropped twenty degrees in the half hour it took to shop.

Glancing up at the low clouds heavy with snow, tiny worry lines crinkled her smooth forehead. This storm was going to be a real blue norther with heavy snow, strong winds, and sub-zero temperatures.

Definitely, time to get home, re-check the wood supply for the fireplaces, double check the fuel in the generators, make sure the snowmobile is plugged in, and police the outside of the house again for anything that could blow around in the gale force winds.

Double checking was a must. She loved Rook Haven, but winter storms could turn deadly in a heartbeat. They were even more dangerous if you lived alone.

Painful memories, quick and hot, pricked her chest, tightened her throat. Since Grams and Danny died in a car crash only a few weeks after Mom died, she was alone on the farm.

There was no one else to rely on. Symon should have…hell no, she wasn’t going down that path again. What could have been and should have been, had no bearing on what is.

Caitlin shivered as small pellets of ice stung her face. Shifting the heavy shopping bag filled with powdered and fresh milk, eggs, fruit and fresh produce, higher on her shoulder, she tucked her chin close to her chest to escape a blast of frigid wind.

If the storm was as bad as predicted, she could be snowed in for days. The local weather expert and resident witch, Miss Ella Brodie, predicted blizzard conditions by late afternoon with two to four feet of snow on top of the three feet already on the ground. Miss Brodie was seldom wrong.

Head down, concentrating on keeping her footing on the ice, Caitlin, collided with a tall figure, lost her balance and fell backward. Strong arms caught her and kept her from landing on her butt.
Laughing, she took a small step backward and tilted her head up to thank her rescuer.

“I’m so sorry. Thank you for….The smile froze on her face. She didn’t think about it, didn’t plan it. She just reacted.

Like a slow motion sequence in an action movie, her hand curled into a fist and swung out and upward, connecting with Symon's grinning face and rocking his head backward.

Overbalanced, she pitched forward and fell against his broad chest. Maybe it was to keep her from falling or maybe it was in self-defense. Either way, she ended up crushed against his lean muscled body with his arms wrapped around her again.

Caitlin was frozen for a minute or maybe it was hours, as shocked at what she had done as she had been to see him standing in front of her. She had never punched anyone in her life, until now. Righteous anger shoved the shock aside as she struggled against his iron hard grip.

Symon grimaced, wiped the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand, and held onto Caitlin. His green eyes locked with her angry blue. “Some welcome home, Slim.”

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

Post by ktbuckson » August 30th, 2010, 3:08 pm

The Lucky Ones
Genre: Science Fiction
248 words

He speaks softly, leaning his considerable weight into the cool cushion of the couch’s embrace.

“After Elyse got sick she slept most of the day when no one was home and moved around like a restless ghost at night.

“She was not gracious about her brief illness. I can say that now. Back then, I tried to put myself in her place. Two young kids and a husband who were out living, while she sat around, slowly diminishing. She was mad. Mad at God, mad at the world, and mad at me for being healthy when so many others were getting sick. She was mean at the end. The kids stayed away from her. I still feel bad about that.”

The man takes his handkerchief from his back pocket and wipes his brow. 90 degrees in April.

“Once she was gone, I couldn’t sleep. She hadn’t slept in the bed with me for months and later she was in a hospital bed in our guest room. But I always knew she was there. Now, everything is quieter, darker. I sit in bed and read Time magazine with a bag of chips and a shoebox full of candy bars. Put on forty pounds in the eight months since we watched her get put in the ground."

He shifts uncomfortably. The sweat begins to trickle down his back. He looks up into the eyes of his captor, and says, “I don’t know why or how we survived this long.”

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

Post by MACS » August 30th, 2010, 3:43 pm

Title: The Aviary
Genre: Women's Fiction
Words: 361

May, 1998, York, England

I’m sweating between the clammy sheets, beneath the musty wool blanket. Late May mid-day heat is building in my stuffy Spartan hostel room in the increasingly alien city of York. A double co-ed room that Marc-Antoine and I checked into a week ago, and which I have now occupied—alone—for three days. He’s obviously not coming back. The question is: why? The thought is so painful, so devastating, that all I can do is pull the sheet over my head and fall back into the oblivion of heartache-induced sleep. Maybe when I wake up, this will be nothing but a dream.
He might have been mugged. It happens to tourists all the time. Maybe on the way home from the pub Friday night…
Prying open my swollen eyelids, I survey the worn-out view. My brown corduroys slumped where I discarded them, two of my four t-shirts where I tossed them nearby. My Tevo sandals marking the spot where I stood at the end of the day, like the steps of a solitary dance lesson. On the beat-up, utilitarian desk by my cot, what remains of the UK cash Marc-Antoine left me with, about twenty pounds seventy-three pence, I think, at last count. Not much.
If he doesn’t come back, I’ll have to…
I roll over and stare at the wall. It needs painting. Years of abuse and neglect have diminished what character this marginally interesting heritage building once had. There is water damage running down one corner of the room, and the brown-stained yellowed paint is cracked and buckling.
On the other hand, he had to come back here to get his backpack. And mine! He had to have planned to go somewhere…
My stomach churns, empty. I ate my last granola bar yesterday, and will have to venture out or starve. I won’t call Mom and Dad. I can’t. If it weren’t for Marc-Antoine, I would never have had the courage to defy them and come away with Marc on this trip to Europe on scant savings and borrowed money. To assert my so-called independence.
And now he’s gone, and I’m well and truly alone.

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Location: London

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

Post by Rik » August 30th, 2010, 5:19 pm

Title: SpinTrap
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy

Tonight I'm alone, or as alone as anyone can be in the Lonely City. That's my name for this place – the Lonely City. Others call it London, or Londres, or Londra. For a while it was named Londinium, before the legions were called back to their fat lands in the east and south. I lived in Londinium for five – no, six – years before catching a fatal brick to the back of the head. It was a city of lonely people then, and little has happened since to change my mind about the place.

A quick glance around the bar is enough to tell me that my 'friend' is late for our meeting. Rather than search for him, I order another pint - warm bitter like the locals drink, with just a skim of froth covering the top of the glass - and settle back into the snug, happy to let my mind wander.

The last time I was here - in this city I mean, not this particular public house - would have been after the locals pollarded their king, after the madnesses of the civil war. I must have missed the restoration by less than a year, which is a pity. Restoration London sounds like it was fun, if the history books are to be trusted. I met a lover under amber skies who said she had spent many enjoyable evenings in the company of Mr David Garrick and his King's Men, but I doubt she was being honest with me.
To Posterity - the latest chapbook of poems from Rik Roots ($free)

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Joined: August 25th, 2010, 2:14 pm

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

Post by RitaB » August 31st, 2010, 12:08 pm

Title: Cassie
Genre: Women's Fiction/suspense

“Mommy, Mommy, look at me!”
Ten year old Cathy Dial skipped across the alpine meadow with her long blonde braids streaming behind her. She held her Daddy’s hand and squealed with laughter as her bright yellow kite caught the updraft and played in the mountain breeze.
“Mommy, Mommy do you see?”
Rose Dial watched the dancing kite as she lounged on the red checkered cloth spread on the meadow grass for their picnic. She threw back her head to laugh with her little girl.
“I see darling! I see. You’ve made the kite dance!”
Cathy let go of her father’s hand and raced back to the picnic blanket to hug her mother.
“Listen, Cathy. Be very quiet for a moment, and listen.”
They both cocked their heads to the side and listened to the music of the cowbells from the adjacent meadows. Cathy’s eyes were bright with excitement as she listened to the bells and gazed at the white capped mountains and the carpet of wild flowers in the protected meadow.
Her voice was hushed almost a whisper when she turned to her mother.
“This is like magic, Mommy. Isn’t it?”
“Yes darling. This is like magic.”
Still giggling and ever sensitive to her mother’s shifting moods Cathy pulled away to look into her mother’s eyes. She watched as sadness replaced the look of joy and wonder that she had seen there.
In her child’s voice she pleaded, “Don’t be sad Mommy. Please don’t be sad. It’s such a pretty day.”

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

Post by marilyn peake » September 2nd, 2010, 7:01 am

Nathan, I tried to figure out how to delete this entry, but I don't see a Delete button ... I've already started intensive editing of this novel, and the first chapter is now completely different. If you see this, feel free to delete this entry, so that it's no longer in the pool for your First Page Critique. Thanks for all you do for writers! - Marilyn

Title: Gods in the Machine
Genre: Science Fiction
(177 words)

Levana Anderson sipped her blue-white chocolate latte, holding the steaming porcelain cup firmly in her rounded hands. She peered through creamy white froth at the blue liquid. How did they do that, she wondered- -make the chocolate coffee blue?

Levana’s gaze moved from her warm cup to the neon green button implanted in the black plastic restaurant table, stars shimmering within its ebony core. As she pushed the button with her right thumb, a cloth panel rose next to her with a whirring sound, revealing a large rectangular window.

The psychologist set down her cup to more intently soak in the spectacular view. Earth was no more than a giant’s black dinner plate resting on a matching table, fluorescent sugar spilled across the darkened circle. Hours ago, night had fallen on the part of Earth linked to the Galaxy Garden Space Hotel in geosynchronous orbit. Levana could barely make out the dark rim of Earth, but the city lights popped brilliantly. Studying the stars thrown across the outdoor scape, the psychologist briefly wished she knew the constellations.
Last edited by marilyn peake on September 24th, 2010, 1:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.


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