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

Post by John Dillon » October 25th, 2010, 5:03 pm

ARALEN DREAMS
Mainstream Fiction
Last edited by John Dillon on December 29th, 2010, 8:48 pm, edited 18 times in total.

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

Post by Michael Roland » October 29th, 2010, 10:34 am

The Soul Baby the Trickster and the Golden Buddha
Creative Nonfiction

Glowing embers smolder in the southwestern sky as the desert floor sends its fire up to heaven. What is dying tonight will seek new life in the morning. The never-ending cycle of death and rebirth is clear for all to see. But to be a good witness you have to have your eyes open. I’ve still got my blinders on as I struggle with my head down, turning circles within circles. Car, house, job, debt, life.

It's a gorgeous day today in the Sonoran desert, clear and mild. I love feeling the wind when I drive. Stereo up and top down. I do my best to dodge the blue-hairs driving their Oldsmobiles with Nebraska plates slow in the fast lane. In the ‘70’s Grant Road off I-10 was called the “ugliest street in America” by Life magazine. It hasn't changed much since then. It gets better by the time you hit Campbell Avenue. That's where my house is. Well, it was my house. I sold it to my best friend, Charles, with the agreement that I would rent it back from him. It worked out for both of us, but now I'm about to get kicked out of what was my own home.

It's a gentle kick. Really more of an I've been thinking about things and I've made some decisions that don't coincide with you staying here much longer kind of kick. My two-bedroom honeymoon cottage with French doors to the garden is no longer mine. Neither is my wife.

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

Post by Sarafiliz » October 29th, 2010, 5:01 pm

Title: We Can Reach Our Destination
Genre: YA (speculative future)

2086
March

One Saturday, Archie was finishing breakfast with his mother when a big cream-colored envelope smacked down on the center of the kitchen table, jingling the forks on their plates.

Archie's father, who had tossed it there, stood smirking over his startled wife and son, nodding at the envelope, both eyebrows raised.

“Something came for you, Archie," said his dad.

Archie looked at his mother. She didn’t meet his eyes as she lifted his empty plate away from him and stacked it on her own.

“Well?" said his father. "Open it."

It had to be an inch thick. Archie had never seen, let alone received, such a big piece of paper mail. He slid it toward him, then took his hand away, feeling he should have wiped his fingers first, as if he was handling a museum artifact, or something impossibly expensive in a store he shouldn’t be in. There was his name and address stamped in deep black ink, there was the boarding school’s gilt seal in the upper left corner. They wouldn't need that much paper to reject him would they? Unless they printed up everything he sent, and returned it. Don't be stupid.

"Go on." said his father. “Here, here’s a sharp knife. Just slit it along the top.”

Archie did this, and slid the stack of paper out of the envelope.

The first page was a letter, also on beautiful heavy paper. Academically, especially mathematically, Archie was already halfway through their program, said the black type. Would he like to enter as a third year student? They would give him a full scholarship. Archie looked up at his mother. She looked back at him with an expression on her face he couldn’t read.

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

Post by Ed Miracle » November 1st, 2010, 8:37 pm

Title: FREEMAKER
Genre: Science-Fiction

Lansing, Michigan–Saturday night, February 21

The arsonist parked his van a block from the white, two-story rental. It was a simple frame dwelling under a cheap asphalt roof, burdened by snow, infested with vipers: four of the Devil’s own. From his vantage at the corner, the arsonist noted with satisfaction the glow that emanated from each bedroom window. He was early, though this was no bother. A pound of sunflower seeds would sustain him through his vigil. Until the darkest hour, deep in the night, when the provident snow would muffle his approach, and he would burn those vipers to hell.

#

Three blocks away, sixteen-year-old Philip Machen sat cross-legged on a trundle bed, jiggling its springs to settle his nerves. If he couldn’t persuade his best friend, he might as well memorize his theorems and throw away his head.

“Give me a minute on this thing, will you?” He waved his green Lucite clipboard.

From the opposite mattress, seventeen-year-old Tanner Newe wrinkled his nose, as if Philip had passed gas, here in Tanner’s loft.

Philip sprang barefooted from the bed and thumped around Tanner’s model plane, a red P-51. He poked the stereo to kill the music, then hunched his voice as low as it would go. “I figured a way.”

Tanner accepted the clipboard and scanned the first page. He tapped the opening equation, E=mc2. “I’ve seen it,” he said.

“No you haven’t.”

Tanner rolled a shrug across his shoulders. “Mass-energy equivalence. Yippy skippy.”

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

Post by rose » November 2nd, 2010, 5:15 pm

Title: THE GOOD-BYE MAN
Genre: Memoir

In myth, epic literature, and sacred traditions, the call to journey comes to the hero at an important turning point in life. When the hero answers the call, huge changes are set in motion—changes that will benefit not only the hero, but many others and, in some cases, all humankind.
- From The Way of the Traveler by Joseph Dispenza.

Prologue

It was the early spring of 2006 and I was feeding my garden fever, browsing through sustainable living magazines from the nineteen-seventies. One carried an article about something called "electroculture," a little-known gardening method pioneered back in the forties by one Thomas Townsend Brown. If I had ever heard his name, I had forgotten it, but my search for more information turned up entire online community of researchers devoted to the man and his work.

Its most active member was Brown’s daughter, Linda, who, as it so happened, lived nearby. I was intrigued by the group and the topics they discussed. When a French Canadian mathematician announced that he had just completed the development of a curious invention best described as a future feedback device and offered prototype units for testing, I was eager to sign on. A third community member, an octogenarian veteran of the British and US Intelligence services, known to me only as “Twigsnapper” (his nom de forum), stepped in and arranged for Linda to hand carry one of the instruments to me.

She and I met at a corner gas station and made a date to talk the next day. By that time I had already gleaned that Townsend Brown had little interest in agriculture. Rather, he had been the foremost pioneer in the arcane field of Signals Intelligence, the capturing of radiant energy packets from the ocean, earth, and space. This was a subject in which governments, worldwide, would be interested, both then and now.
Follow my work at Smashwords:

Riders on the Rez http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/35697
The Good-Bye Man

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

Post by dstarnes » November 2nd, 2010, 10:32 pm

Redacted - thanks
Last edited by dstarnes on November 9th, 2010, 2:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by pabrown » November 4th, 2010, 1:10 am

Title: Shadows and Smoke
Genre: Noir Historical

Los Angeles, March 1929

The day I killed my last Hun was both the best and the worst day of my life. It was the day I met Maddy.

For weeks Captain Jeffers, my boss, along with his boss, Donald E. Crawford and the half of city hall Crawford had in his pocket, had been pounded by the reformers who weren't letting up on their attacks this time. Usually, we stayed low and the black-frocked biddies and bible pounding preachers went away after a while. This time was different.

I was getting restless and pissed at being kept on a leash, so when Captain Jeffers told me Adolph Weiss, this German kike from Chicago, was bring his muscles in to set up his own gin joints, I jumped on the chance to go after him and maybe open some heads. That was my first mistake of the day.

Jeffers gave me the eye and said, "We don't want him going back and connectin' up with any of those Outfit guys. You know what that means."

Sure I did. It meant we lost our cut of the rackets. Let those greasy East coasters in and our cozy little Combination gets a lot less cozy and my pockets get a lot lighter.

"I'll stop him," I assured Jeffers, knowing I was making my second mistake, but too far in to stop it now. "Permanently," I added, as much to remind me of what I had to do.

"Good lad."
GK Parker
http://gkparkernoir.com/

History like you've never seen

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

Post by Susan Quinn » November 12th, 2010, 10:28 am

Title: Open Minds
Genre: YA Paranormal
(257 words)

A zero like me shouldn't take public transportation.

The hunched driver wrinkled a frown before I even got on the bus. I kept my face neutral, knowing better than to scowl back. Her attempt to read my mind would get her nothing but the quiet of the street corner where I stood. I gripped my backpack and gym bag tighter and climbed the grime-coated steps. The driver's mental command whooshed the door closed behind me.

Yeah, junior year was off to a fantastic start already.

Students crammed the bus, which stank of too many bodies baking in the early morning heat. I shuffled past the dead silent rows, avoiding backpacks and black instrument cases. Two years of being the Invisible Girl had taught me a few things. As long as I didn't touch an exposed arm or speak aloud, the blank spot of my mind would go unnoticed in the swirling sea of thoughts. Which was great, until I needed a seat on a crowded bus. With soft hiss of water exhaust, the bus lurched forward. I grabbed a sticky seatback to keep from falling on three girls deep in their mind-conversation.

Two senior boys leered from the back row. The whole bus was within range, so they knew there were no thought waves beaming from my head. Yet, instead of ignoring me, they stared like hungry sharks. Last year, looks like those would have gotten them pummeled by my six-foot-two brother Seamus. But Seamus had graduated, and the protective shadow he cast over me was gone.
Last edited by Susan Quinn on November 16th, 2010, 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Susan Kaye Quinn (young adult and middle grade author)
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CBridges
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by CBridges » November 12th, 2010, 11:15 am

TITLE: The View from Upper High Hog
GENRE: YA (The adventures of an aging Vaudevillian during the Cold War, told from the perspective of the girl she's been paid to raise.)
242 words

Bebe was gone. Bette Noire was in her eyes.

And Bette Noire wanted me to shut up.

It was party time, so I grew dim in the part of the living room I called Downstage. Bebe called it my box seat — a small bay window where I hid with books and dreams of Prince Charming, curtains drawn. But not right then. Right then I was a prop in Bebe– Bette’s routine.

“C’maaaan! Who’s the brat? You ain’t no mama. Ain’t never been!” Bebe’s friend kicked his feet onto our chipped coffee table, popping a cigar back in his mouth like a pacifier.

She favored him with a smile, but I didn’t like his winks — not at me, not at Bebe, not even at her fearless stage persona, The Fabulous Bette Noire. He looked like a cartoon on a cocktail napkin. He smelled like wood polish and poison. I hoped he’d choke on a pistachio so he’d shut up. But he didn’t, and others ogled my thirteen-year-old gawkiness until I itched like I was covered with flies. I hated when downstage became upstage. At least I could always count on rescue, whether smiling and merciful from Bebe or otherwise from Bette.

No smile that time. Just Bette’s narrowing eye. Here it came.

With a flourish, the Fabulous Bette Noire put her fingers in her mouth and whistled until she shattered every eardrum from here to Kingman, grinning at her guests’ shock.

Spotlight regained.
Last edited by CBridges on January 18th, 2011, 12:58 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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

Post by aduson » November 19th, 2010, 2:19 pm

Title: An Island Never Cries
Genre: Women's literature
(250 words)

Surrounded by people, a young woman sat alone. She listened dutifully to words being spoken that were somehow trivial despite their seriousness. Instinctively, she pulled her thoughts inward away from the people and the voice. As she entered the protective cocoon of her mind, her anxiety lessened. This really isn’t so bad, she comforted herself. Though the words echoed dully inside her mind, it was a useful defense. After all, she continued, I’m the only one really looking out for me anyway. She wasn’t afraid of being alone and could take care of herself. Physically that is. Her thoughts had become sarcastic, mocking her with their brutal honesty. She sighed sadly.

Her mind no longer being quite the safe haven it had been a moment ago, she allowed her awareness to return to her surroundings. As though a veil had been lifted from her sight, she saw her perfectly manicured hands as they smoothed invisible wrinkles from her new silk dress. A lady’s hands proclaim her habits, drifted a reminder from her past that smacked of a dictator’s edict rather than gentile advice. Her hands became claws momentarily as she recognized the voice and fought off the panic that crept like bile from her throat. She tried to relax. She re-crossed her ankles feeling her muscles scream from the suppressed tension in her body. She allowed her eyes to attempt to refocus on the face of the voice and to imbibe some measure of comfort from its words of faith.
You have to grow up before you can grow old. - Allie

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

Post by emilycross » November 20th, 2010, 3:19 pm

Title: DarkShines
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Word Count: 253

Sitting in the car, IT waited - watching.

The girl had been standing in the alley beside the club for about ten minutes. IT had been there longer than that - waiting for her. The doors of the club were closed and locked. No one would be allowed in or out till the midnight hour passed. The girl was completely alone – with no escape. IT’s heart beat quickened and IT shifted slightly in the driver’s seat.

The moment was going to be very soon. The night was almost Dark. Not that human dark, where every corner is cast with the light of a street lamp but the special Dark, which is unseen but sleeps in every human soul. But IT would still have to wait till every shade and shadow was saturated - for the night to become THEIRS. Then IT would act. IT tightened its grip on the wheel, never taking its eyes off her.

Even from across the street, IT could see the girl’s every movement. IT watched as she repeatedly checked her phone to no avail. IT watched every nervous tug on her necklace. And IT watched as she began to pace up and down the alley, over and over - her impatience slowly turning to worry and fear. It was well past midnight now and the bustling area surrounding the club had grown deadly quiet. There wasn’t a soul about – all were inside the club safe and sound, away from the Dark. Or at least that’s what they thought.

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

Post by Jessi Heinrich » November 20th, 2010, 6:26 pm

Title: Memoirs of Daniel
Genre: Fantasy
(250 words)


Victor's death was no surprise. The man was a smoker, a drug abuser and an alcoholic. His peace had been made over the years, but never as strong as the day that he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Like most humans faced with death, he prayed for forgiveness. Perhaps for the first time in his pitiful existence, Victor had done the right thing.

Kneeling by the hospital bed, Daniel stroked the man’s greying hair. His clear blue eyes were strictly focused on a space just shy of Victor's face. His lips were pressed together, forming an unbendable line. He held no feelings for the man. No sympathy for his sickness nor his death. Apathy came with his duty just as easily as compassion.

Daniel hesitated before taking Victor's life, but his reluctance was not to cause the man further suffering. It was the sharp, bursting pain near his abdomen that had shocked him. Daniel hunched over and grabbed at his side, closing his eyes. In the moment that Victor's pain engulfed him, silence enveloped the hospital room.

In an attempt to ignore the overwhelming pain, Daniel used his shaky hand to seize Victor's soul. He tried to focus on the good that he was doing for the man, but a wave of absolute need washed over him. His hand slipped. His control on the soul wavered. He tightened his fist and pushed away from the hospital cot, his face not reflecting the explosion of agony that he felt.

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

Post by anakarenina » December 1st, 2010, 10:38 pm

Title: Tequila in his heartbeat
Genre: Romance, Fantasy


True love? Do you even know what love means? I know you’ve probably read about it many times. Maybe you’ve seen it. Well, not the actual feeling, but a demonstration of it. A kiss, a hug, a gesture, if you will, in the name of love. Mankind has attempted to demonstrate it through every conceivable means: movies, literature, art, and even science. There are countless studies done on a person in love.
It’s an adjective, a verb, a noun. There are many other ways to describe it: infatuation, passion, zeal, fervor obsession. It’s all you need, and it’s what makes a true hero. It’s in the air and it makes the world go round. However, it also bites, it bleeds, it hurts, it kills. It was mortal in the case of Romeo and Juliet.
Yes, love isn’t all that it’s portrayed to be. It can also be blinding and painful. It may frankly not give a damn about you. Love can be a heart-crunching breath-taking nerve cell destroyer of an emotion when you love someone or something that you shouldn’t love.
A love for a thing is always practical; a thing can’t hate you, it can’t leave you or hurt. The sad part is objects don’t love you back. They are objects and only that. They don’t feel no matter how much you wished they did. That cute little panda bear stuffed toy your grandmother gave you when you were little does not, and will not, ever need to be hugged, kissed or petted. Only people and pets love you back. I never asked my cat if she loved me for the simple, and fairly obvious reason that she will not answer me, but I’m pretty sure she loves me. After all, she does curl up against me and purr even when she’s not hungry.
People, on the other hand, change their minds, they hurt you. They die (I know pets die too but it’s not as easy to replace a dead person as it is to replace a dead pet). And sadly, the physical disappearance of a person (or transformation into dust, or into inanimate body parts) doesn’t mean the love you felt for that person goes away with them. If anything, you love them even more after they’re gone.
I don’t claim to know what true love is either, like I said, it’s many things. But I do know this: I will never, ever, love anyone the way I loved him.

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Watcher55
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Watcher55 » December 2nd, 2010, 12:20 am

Thrice three hundred years having run their course of fulfillments,
Rome by the strife of her people shall perish. Oracle

The Prefect of the Watch, Plotius Firmus, held his position at a most unfortunate time. He answered directly to Nero. As the commander of seven thousand plebian firefighters, most of whom had joined the Watch on the promise of full citizenship, Plotius knew what went on in the small places crowded around the seven hills. He also knew plebs talked more than they thought, but the rumors he had heard lately were too consistent to be ignored. The maddening thing was that he was helpless to do a thing about them. It would have meant going up against the Praetorian Prefect as well as the Emperor. Even some of the men Plotius commanded had more influence with this emperor than he did. He hated the fat little monster. How he had survived this long was a question for another time. The question this night was whether Rome would survive him. Over the next nine days, Plotius seven thousand men would lose a third of the city at a relatively low cost to their own numbers.

Nero was in Antium; and the festivals and upcoming games had swelled the number of people in the city. Plotius didn’t need an auger to tell him terrible things would happen tonight. He stood outside the barracks of the third cohort just southwest of the Praetorian Camp. The full moon and all the stars, all the gods, must have been out tonight. “Come to watch the show?” he asked them. A rat, the vanguard of hordes, ran across his boot as the stars in the southern sky blinked out one by one.

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

Post by pwtucker » December 14th, 2010, 1:28 am

Selah sat hunched on her bus seat, staring out the window, music blaring from her headphones right into the center of her mind. As if volume could stop her thoughts, could ease the tightness in her chest and wash away the battery taste that flooded her stomach. Stared out the window at the bright Florida day, at the trees luxurious amidst the abandoned homes that lined this side of the interstate, the occasional army truck or humvee roaring past toward the border crossing. That was her destination, and coming ever closer with each passing minute. The border crossing in the wall that surrounded Miami, the edge where the US stopped and the vampire city began.

A touch on her shoulder and she startled. It was the soldier that had been assigned to escort her at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport, the only other passenger on the bus. Pulling off her headphones Selah stared up at her, into blue eyes that were ringed with fatigue.

“We’re about five minutes away,” said the soldier, her voice quiet.

"Okay,” said Selah, trying to sound disinterested despite the sudden fisting of her stomach. The soldier didn’t head back to her seat but instead stood there, looking down at her.

“What’s your name?” she asked at last.

“What’s it to you?”

The soldier shrugged and smiled sadly. “I’m just asking. What’s your name?”

“Selah,” she said after a beat of hesitation. Not like it was a secret.

“That’s a beautiful name,” said the soldier. “Mine’s Christina.”

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