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 geistwrite » September 24th, 2010, 9:54 pm

Paranormal Romance (90k)

The fever began to take me over. The burning started in my heart, as if my chest itself was fully engulfed in flames. I looked down, eyes dazed, expecting to see the flames leaping out of my pink sundress. But, there were no flames, just this unquenchable, undeniable heat. My vision blurred and my legs became weak. I struggled against this feeling, knowing that I had no real power against it. Slowly it would take me and when it did I would be able to control nothing that followed. The heat swelled in my head, my eyes faltered, and my breathing quickened as my lungs gasped in the cold air. Cool me, stop the fever; please douse the flames burning from within. But it was too late.
I sat straight up in bed, my heart pounding, my head on fire. Not again, why again? I struggled to gain control, steady my breathing, focus my eyes. I struggled to bring the emotions back into balance. Everything equal. Everything opposite. Everything in check. It was taking longer each time and this perplexed me. Why? Why now? Why so strong? As my breathing steadied and eyes focused I got up and went to the big doors leading onto the deck, throwing them open to the cool late winter air of Sun Valley. The mountains loomed around me on every side, bringing me a small sense of comfort. So different was this feeling from that of my dreams, of my memories.

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

Post by wordranger » September 24th, 2010, 11:32 pm

Title: Castillia's Chosen Son
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
(240 words)

Matt laid his head down on the grass. Agony had set itself into merciful numbness as his mind succumbed to the dull roar all around him. He wondered briefly if the sound was actually there, or if it was just a trick of his mind. He found himself smiling for a fraction of a second. What did it matter if the sound was there or not? It was odd, what you found yourself thinking when you realized that your life was over. Well, his life was not really over, not in the true sense of dying, that is. He would survive, but the life he would have might not be worth living.

He was beaten and broken, and lying in the grass in the cold of night. A small glowing white orb was shifting back and forth over his head. It was providing light for the Ephesean guard that was leaning over him, partially healing his wounds to keep him just barely alive. The guard’s prince wanted Matt weakened so he would not be able to resist the bonding process. There was nothing he could do. He was helpless to resist.

Matt squinted to see through eyelashes caked with blood and soil. Not far from him, his instructors lay unconscious. They had fought hard to defend their students, but the odds were against them. He wondered briefly if any of them would live to tell what had happened this night.
Words are your friend.
Don't be afraid to lose yourself in them.

Jennifer Eaton, WordRanger
My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

Take a Step into My World and Learn From My Mistakes

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

Post by Guardian » September 29th, 2010, 4:50 pm

Last edited by Guardian on December 20th, 2010, 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by agyw » October 1st, 2010, 4:16 pm

title: Sara LeClere, Missing in Action
genre: middle grade fiction
wc: 250
author: agyw

Chapter One
Spring 1972

I didn’t REALLY name him.

“Scoot, Cussed Cat! If Mimi catches you, she’ll swat you!” I scold Cussy away from the squabble of hens and chicks. He loves to terrorize them. I don’t think he’d really hurt any of them. Not yet, anyhow, and I can still train him.

I glance back to the lace-curtained parlor windows, then to the upstairs, to see if my grandmother was nearby. Mimi would take to the broom if she saw Cussy heckling the poultry.

She’d have a fit if she saw me outside without my coat and mittens, even though it is April. With the cold sunshine, sudden bursts of swirling wind and melting piles of snow, it does look like April hasn’t decided to stick with winter or head toward spring. I’m ready for spring. But Mimi is convinced it’s winter, and I’ll catch pee-neumonia.

And she’d have my hide if she thought I named a kitten.

She’d say it was because she didn’t need us going all soft on them, and no cats in the house. But I’m pretty sure it had more to do with Uncle George than anything else.

I know it’s hard having a son off to war. But I think she forgets he’s our uncle and we miss him, too, and now mom is working all the time to keep us “afloat”.

Besides, Uncle George might have been the “man” of the house, but it isn’t like he’s that much older than me.

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

Post by mightymouse88 » October 1st, 2010, 9:37 pm

Title: Rebel in Remission
Genre: Dark Literary Fiction


Good God, leaving was a really bad idea. I never intended to break it off. At the time it just seemed like a bold way to stand my ground, but I forgot one crucial detail. She didn’t know that. You’d never believe such a tiny person could do so much damage unless you knew her. I knew her better than anyone, better than she did. But that’s only one part of why I was going back. More importantly, I was in love with her. And you’d never believe a guy could love such a train wreck unless she’d fallen for you too. And she did. Hard.
      The needle of the speedometer pushed past 80 miles per hour. It had been exactly 12 hours since the door slammed behind me, but trust me that was more than enough time. This was a first; there was no telling what I was coming home to.     
My crappy Honda Civic took the corner on two wheels as I turned into the parking lot behind the apartment building. Wait. Where is her car? I scanned the lot twice for a black Infiniti, it was gone. It was just after 1:00, class was over, but her car was gone. Alright, sure, there were a million perfectly logical places she could be. Nope, not today.
Beer cans and cigarette butts carpeted the lawn. Someone was even kind enough to fertilize the bushes.
Anxiously I glanced up at the window, hoping to see a pale face scowling down at me, but the blinds were drawn.
      While climbing the stairs I listened for a voice, footsteps, anything. But it was completely silent in the dilapidated hallway. Once I finally reached the fourth floor, the air caught in my chest. There was nothing out of place, but I felt my pulse pounding in my ears and an icy chill oozing down my spine. The tension I sensed around me- however unjustified- was nearly tangible, as if it were a fog seeping from the apartment, escaping under the door and through the hinges.

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

Post by artrosch » October 1st, 2010, 10:27 pm

Title: Confessions Of An Honest Man
Genre: Literary Novel
244 Words

July, 1967. Detroit, Michigan
Three musicians were standing beside the club’s back door, under a canvas awning with scalloped trim. They wore black tuxedoes, replete with cummerbunds, bow ties and shoes polished to mirror perfection. The tallest of the three, a man in his early sixties, wore a red poppy in his lapel. The others had white carnations. A few people stopped to shake their hands and offer words of praise. Someone laughed a boozy laugh. When the people had drifted away, the older musician butted his cheroot in the sand of an ashtray. He stepped off the concrete pad and walked towards his car.

The other two followed casually, about fifteen seconds apart. They got into the vehicle and quietly closed the door

Soon they were engrossed in the ritual of the pipe: lighting, inhaling, holding breath, exhaling. It was cozy in the Continental’s plush interior. Air came through the upholstery’s leather seams, as if the vehicle sighed. The men were settling down, recharging their nerves for the next set, the last set. It was one o’clock in the morning.

BANG! An immense sound shocked the trio with sudden terror. Their bodies reacted instinctively. They ducked, and their hands flew to cover their heads. The car lurched as a man dove across the hood, holding a pistol in his right hand. His legs swam wildly as he fought to stop his momentum. Whatever tactic he had in mind, it wasn’t working.

Art Rosch

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

Post by EllieAnn » October 3rd, 2010, 10:44 am

Demas' First Task: The Prophecy of Rob
MG Fantasy

Early in the morning Demas and his mama, Karla, raced their horses around the property. Demas usually hated being out of bed before eight o'clock, but he had woken with an acute feeling of unrest. It was like an itch on the back of his soul, uncomfortable and impossible to soothe. Demas knew it wouldn’t go away for good until he received his first task from the Invisible King. But until then, thundering hooves and brisk morning air were helpful distractions.
He planned to pass through the open gate until he saw Karla’s mare leap over the middle of the fence. She looked back after she made the jump, her face ruddy and alight with merriment. She raised her eyebrows and cocked her head in clear challenge. Demas clenched his jaw, leaned forward, and gripped Rowen with his knees, determined to take the shortcut. No thirteen-year-old boy should get out-jumped by his mama.
Rowen and Demas bounded over the fence as one, but landed as two. Demas dropped like an anchor to the black earth. He took a roll and skipped up before Rowen even noticed he was riderless.
"Zik!" Demas said as Karla disappeared into the woods ahead, riding to victory, and taking his self-respect with her.
He clambered onto Rowen and kicked him into a run before his bottom hit the saddle. Rowen grunted and lowered his head, heaving himself off the ground with every stride. Demas heard nothing but the wind and the beat of his own heart.

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

Post by epcaldwell » October 4th, 2010, 11:59 am

Return In Snow
Genre:romance Suspense
Debut novel by Pamala Owldreamer
First in series

Caitlin O'Brian 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. Her hand curled into a fist and swung out and upward, connecting with his 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.
Symon Branigan was the last man and the only man on earth she wanted to see.She was frozen for a minute or maybe it was hours, as shocked at what she had done as she was 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 pavloviandoggy » October 6th, 2010, 11:20 pm

Title: The Beacon
Genre: Fantasy

Sitting on a portico overlooking former Orcani, I pray for memory loss. I ask my goddess to wash away thoughts of riots and wars in the calm waters of senility. Alas, though I feel my years in every joint, my mind has not faded. Images of my past flash mercilessly across my mind: my mother seizing on the ground; a stone demon illuminated by a lantern; half-decomposed corpses on a country road; fingers that blush orange like a tangerine spider. These memories are burned into my mind as deeply as the scar along my abdomen.

My goddess will not grant me this simple request. Yet in my youth she appeared to me, healed me, told me I was her chosen servant. Now I wonder if I pray to nothing. Perhaps my goddess is a demon as the archbishop tried to convince me. For the thousandth time, I consider if I imagined the goddess out of desperation or insanity.

My granddaughter mutters irritably to herself as she unpacks my traveling trunks. The child does not understand why we could not travel to Orcani by train rather than carriage. She assumes I fear trains because they are new and I am an old woman. She does not know that decades ago, I sat on a train, battered and half- starved and reeking of desperation, begging each passenger to save me. She does not know that my pleas fell on deaf ears, that one train ride taught me about the savagery of indifference.

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

Post by dahosek » October 11th, 2010, 5:04 pm

Title: The Archbishop's Son
Genre: Literary

Emil’s mother looked nothing like Mary Magdalene. She resembled neither the painting of Saint Mary Magdalene penitent, dressed in a nun’s habit, pondering a skull on her table, which hung over Sister Agnes’s desk, nor the statue of Saint Mary Magdalene sinner, wearing a green dress, her shoulder bare, which stood in the back corner of the orphanage chapel. But Mary Magdalene was the only way Emil was able to conceive of a prostitute. His mother wore a blue dress, unfettered by the obligatory symbolism of religious artists in her color choice. She simply liked how the blue of the dress contrasted with the red of her hair and the green of her eyes.

Fourteen years on the streets of Prague left their mark on Magda’s beauty. She was still attractive, of course. It was necessary in her line of work, but with each year more artifice was needed to preserve the appearance of youth.

The tavern door opened bringing in a gust of cold February air, flickering the light from the gas lamps. She inspected the boy who sat before her, wondering if what he claimed really was true. Her feelings were mixed: If his claims were false, the boy was wasting her time and keeping her from her work for no reason. But if they were actually true and this was the boy she had left at the orphanage all those years ago—that wouldn’t change the fact the he was keeping her from her work, even if there was a reason.

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

Post by arbraun » October 22nd, 2010, 3:48 pm

Title: Book of Shadows
Genre: horror
(249 words)

Strong winds ruffled her hair and sprinkles of sea peppered her face, charring her appearance. She bowed her head and noticed the sea held no water, only fire. Beads of sweat erupted on her skin. A cry ripped from her throat, causing Charon, the ferryman, to turn and glare at her. He stopped rowing with the steel oar. Charon’s face wasn’t a face at all. Only a skull lurked inside a black hood. Low-flying demons with red, scaly skin and horns confirmed her worst fear—they sailed on
the River Styx, and she was dead.

Kaitidid Rogers, a twelve-year-old all sharp angles and jagged points, put the finishing touches on her comic book, Girl in Hell. She mused over the graphic novel. It would suck to go to hell. Maybe this comic will help people. The youngest member of a close-knit Christian family of four, she sat in the back seat with her big sister, Stephanie. The former watched her parents, Steve and Dodie, in the front seat.

She sniffed the cool air and nice new car smell. She rubbed the seats—soft and comfy. Her black hair flowed from the air rushing out of the backseat vents.

“Daddy?” Kaitidid asked.

Her dad craned his neck and met her eyes for a second. “Yes, pumpkin?”

“Are we going to MacDonald’s now that church is over?”

He nodded. “Of course, like we always do.”

“Yay! MacDonald’s is the best place to eat ever!”

A sheet of rain fell.

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Re: Page Critique Friday 10/22/10

Post by Ce3 » October 22nd, 2010, 8:44 pm

248 words

Hi Nathan,
Attached is my 'hopeful critique page' of my novel about a feuding oil families from Oklahoma.
thanks for your great blog and the info you graciously provide,

It was a star-filled mountain summer night when Nicholas Doucette spotted her in Puff’s Place, that infamous Colorado Mountain bar with the curious name. We’d been fishing just over the pass in a spot once ranked the top gold medal trout stream in the lower 48. We practiced ‘catch and release’ mostly, but also tucked a few rainbows in the freezer back at the cabin before we popped over to Puff’s to have a few.
We opened the old bar door and there she was, a vision straddling a saddle stool in skin tight jeans, drinking whiskey straight up and puffing furiously on a Marlboro Light. Her long dark hair seemed to glisten in the foggy light and bounced freely when she laughed, but it may have been those eyes, two bright blue shinning beacons, that led him out of the smoke and into her world.

Nick was dialed in, oblivious to his surroundings and my small talk. His only interest was this hot, loose-limbed beauty, who not only looked mighty good holding a pool cue, but seemed to know how to use one as well. While I paid no attention and turned to the bartender for some local conversation, Nick zeroed in on her sculpted stern. He paced the trampled pine floor until he found the nerve to face her eye to eye, employing Nick Doucette’s usual modus operandi. Her look of surprise and hint of agitation promptly turned to a smile.
"Here we go," I said.

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Joined: October 4th, 2010, 9:20 pm

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

Post by grazia » October 23rd, 2010, 9:22 am

Working Title: CUL DE SAC
Author: G.M. Rechichi
Genre: Woman's Fiction

What was it about laundry, thought Cora, that made her happy?

Was it the solitude of the thing, or its lack of complication? With laundry, as in nowhere else in her life, there was no lingering detail, no worrisome doubt, no troubling second guesses. Lately nothing but laundry offered Cora that sense of peace. Just taking an empty basket back to the basement laundry room filled her with accomplishment. Or, maybe, it was that she did not “take” the empty basket down the stairs – she kicked it.

Standing at the top of the steps, Cora watched as the basket’s tumble startled her two bewildered cats yet again. With each acrobatic flip of the white plastic Cora reprimanded herself.

“It’s gonna scratch the walls.”

That was something she would have yelled to her two children if they tried such a stunt; which is why she did it when no one was around.

Smiling, she walked down the 12 steps, ignored the cowering cats, and retrieved the basket to attack the remaining clothes piles waiting for her.

Folding another of her son Sam’s endless supply of jeans in the windowless back corner basement laundry room, Cora marveled at her own temporary peace of mind. It was the laundry, she concluded; her life was so fragmented with so many things left undone that her only real sense of accomplishment was getting that basked up those stairs and clothes into everyone’s drawers week after week. Done. Finished.

Not like the rest of her life.

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Joined: October 24th, 2010, 12:04 am

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

Post by jillian » October 24th, 2010, 12:35 am

Title: Revilo
Jillian Dimitriou
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
230 words

My mom gestured towards the sandwich she made me. She looked like Vanna White modeling a new car. Smoke rose off the burnt exterior as she slid the plate to me. The gray disappeared but the scent lingered.

I pulled at an onion slice peaking out of the grilled cheese. Orange goo clung to the cloudy sliver, thin as an eyelash. I pulled it free and the top cracked.

“I even burned the sourdough like you lo—” Her smile faded. “Oh god.”

I took a deep breath in. As I exhaled, I tried to think about anything else. The smell of smoke refused to die though.

As Mom walked out of the kitchen I could hear her cry.

The front door creaked open and shut.

I stared down at the plate. I couldn’t throw it away. I couldn’t eat it. I couldn’t let the smell of smoke cling to every piece of furniture in the kitchen. I scooted back in my chair.

“Smells good,” Tom said. He had black hair and an athletic build. He was Grandpa Leslie’s latest charity project, an amnesiac homeless boy.

“What? The sandwich?”

His eyes widened for a second as if he understood. As if he realized my mom had made my dead brothers favorite meal without realizing. He never knew Ryan though.

I slid the plate towards him keeping my eyes trained on the ceiling.

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

Post by Melissa LR Handa » October 25th, 2010, 4:28 pm

The Iron Pillar, Women's Fiction, 250 words

Daly stood silently in the narrow doorway, watching unobserved as Rick haplessly threw his scattered belongings into boxes, trash bags, and other makeshift suitcases. He turned abruptly; a sinewy arm hoisted a plastic bag up over his head onto the unkempt bed across the room. At last, he noticed her. His sharp, green eyes glared out from behind a mop of dirty blonde hair, locking onto hers. The sensation was almost electrical. Someone had dropped a hairdryer into their bathtub romance, and it hadn’t been her.

Daly felt more curious than anything at this point. “Hi… What are you doing?” She asked casually.

Rick groaned dismissively, shifting his attention back to the task.

“Is everything alright?” She asked again, remaining glued to the doorframe.

“I’m leaving, Daly. I’m done with this!” His anger showcased itself within the single, pulsing vein, which rose up out of his left temple. Daly noticed that it was shaped like a snake.

“Oh? And why is that?” She asked, not willing to let his negativity alter her ubiquitous calm.

He took a deep breath; the serpentine vein receded back into his head. He was speaking to her now with a cool, disconnected voice, as if Daly was an irksome telemarketer disturbing him at dinner time—it’s best to be polite, in order to get it over with quickly. “I have to,” he said flatly. “I’m just not happy here with you, not anymore. It’s better if I just leave and be done with it altogether.”


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