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 sarahdee » January 6th, 2011, 9:08 pm

Genre: Cosy mystery
Word Count: 396

I took one last look around the room, which was now devoid of all my feminine touches. If I was going to go through with this it had to be completely thorough and that meant everything had to go. There must be no reason left for him to contact me. No DVD’s or CDS’s left behind, no make up items, no clothes, no photographs and no books. I had even stripped the room of items bought together that I knew had been more my purchases than his. Fortunately, as it had always been his place rather than ours, I’d left little mark on the flat so my storage rental unit had been small. Mostly it was my clothes, the small amount of toiletries in the bathroom and a few DVDs I’d been allowed to watch only when he wasn’t home.

Convinced that I had done my job well, considering the one day I had had to do it in, I pulled the door shut behind me and dropped the key into an envelope on which I had already written his name. Capital letters, it seemed more impersonal and final like that. The envelope I taped to the front door of that flat (no note, he’d get the point) and with that I turned and ran down the stairs. Maybe that seems a harsh way to walk out of a three year relationship but given that for the last two years I’d been viewing it as more of a prison sentence I felt justified in my actions. Not just justified but elated, relieved and a little terrified.

The taxi, a black cab, stood waiting. I had already taken down my large suitcase, which was stored in the boot. I had just my large messenger bag (I could never get my head around small handbags), which I threw down on the seat next to me harder than I meant to. I grimaced at the thought of my laptop inside. It had taken worse falls.

“King’s Cross please,” I informed the taxi driver and then leaned back in the seat. I wanted to breathe a sigh of relief but that could wait until I was on the train and well out of London.

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

Post by JenAlbin » January 11th, 2011, 1:45 am

TITLE: Crewel
GENRE: YA Dystopian

They came for me in the night. Once, my mother told me, families had fought them, neighbors coming to their aid. People died, which sort of missed the point. Now that peace was established and the Loom proven, people did not fight them. They still come at night, but now to avoid the throngs of disciples with eager hands. It is blessing to touch a Spinster as she passes. That’s what they tell us.

I’d been careless at Seminary. I’d trained at night since my parents realized I had the Calling. They taught me clumsiness, making me fumble until it looked natural when I dropped bowls or spilled the water jug. Then we began on Time, and I’d take the silky strands deftly into my fingers and try to twist and tangle it until it was warped and useless in my hands. It was harder than dropping and spilling. My fingers wanted to weave the delicate tendrils seamlessly with Matter. My hands rebelled against the lessons, but my parents pressed on night after night tirelessly until they broke me. It was years before I was to attend Seminary and each night until I left for the first testing I honed my ineptitude. I was so polished that the others whispered I would be sent away early. Incapable. Awkward. Artless. On the first day of October, I slipped – a thread gracefully winding though creating a Moment.

They came for me that night, and now there is only darkness.

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

Post by Reesha » January 18th, 2011, 10:19 am

Title: Melladore
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

“Who’s this?” asked a social worker. A man in a uniform, one hand on the shoulder of a young man, answered.
“I don’t know who he is. Caught him stealing food. He hasn’t spoken a word.”
“How old is he?”
“Don’t rightly know. Looks to be 15, don’t you think?”
“And no one’s come for him?”
“We’ve held him for two weeks and no one has claimed him. Only thing I know to do is leave him here at the orphanage. He hasn’t spoken a word except his name.”
“And what’s that then?”
“Aden Hubbard.” The lady drew up some paper work.
“You don’t think anyone will mind if I assign him an age, do you? It’ll make it easier for him, just being assigned an age.”
“I don’t mind. I just want to see him taken care of.”
“Most likely he’ll go unclaimed until he’s 16. Those that graduate out of the system are worse off. I’ll put down 14. That’ll give him a few years to get his feet.” Aden Hubbard had become a part of the system. Though he was much older than 14, he was grateful. Being in a strange country and alone was hard enough. At least this way he would have room and board.

Years later, Aden stood in a black cape before an audience. His head was down, and his hands shook a little. It was important to make them think he wasn’t at his best. If they knew he might not pull it off, they were more eager to watch. He lifted his hands, let a bead of sweat streak down his face, and an object held by a volunteer lifted into the air on its own accord.

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

Post by rosepetal720 » January 18th, 2011, 10:30 am

Title: Sacred Fire
Genre: historical fiction

When Tuccia saw her parents climb into their raeda without her, she finally understood that becoming a Vestal Virgin meant never going home. She was being left behind.

Tuccia panicked. She pulled against the Pontifex Maximus so she could run to her parents, but he held her hand firmly. She tried to yank it free from his grasp, but he grabbed her around the waist so she couldn’t break free. With nothing else to do, Tuccia called out her parents’ names, hoping they’d come back and take her with them, but the raeda just turned around to go back home. Tuccia thought maybe they couldn’t hear her, so she yelled louder, “Mamma! Mamma!” but they still didn’t listen. The raeda started to ride away, so she screamed as loud as she could until she was just screaming without even saying words. Still the raeda rode away until it disappeared from view.

The Pontifex Maximus scooped Tuccia up and carried her over his shoulder. She tried to get him to drop her by hitting him and kicking him, but he held her firmly and she could hardly move. She tried calling out to the people that surrounded the temple, but they ignored her and went home. No one would save her.

The Vestal Virgins followed behind the Pontifex Maximus as he walked, and Tuccia reached out to them and begged them to take her home. They looked sad and shook their heads.
Author of Sacred Fire, a historical fiction of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.

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

Post by Falls Apart » January 18th, 2011, 12:25 pm

Deleted by user
Last edited by Falls Apart on July 9th, 2012, 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by ratlamp » January 18th, 2011, 12:53 pm

Title: The Church
Genre: Horror
228 words

It was almost a relief when Dallas stepped around the corner and found the first one standing motionless next to a smashed mailbox. Releasing the Columbian machete from its scabbard and feeling it hack effortlessly through the back of the walker’s neck had never felt more rewarding. Dallas was nearly filled with glee when a second, third and more walkers on the block turned towards him. This was more like it. This was what he was used to. Perhaps now things could get back to normal and Dallas would find out that Santa Barbara was just like all the other towns and cities. A comfort zone he was readily familiar with, almost like a warm winter’s blanket.

With each strike Dallas felt the satisfaction of a triumph. The blade in his hand felt like a wand in the hand of a maestro leading the Boston Pops. His moves and strikes like that of a carefully orchestrated symphonic concert as the lunging of the walkers and accuracy of his blade proved his art in this wretched world Dallas now moved in. The mastery of blade and bone seemed boundless until Dallas felt a sudden jolt to the top of his head. As the blade left his hands and the skies began to darken, Dallas could taste only a drop of his own blood just before the performance went black.

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

Post by ontatteredbroom » January 18th, 2011, 2:20 pm

Title: The Paper Airplane King
Author: Holly McAllister
Genre: Picture Book
Words: 227

Adam Jackson was known at school, at home, and everywhere else in town as “The Paper Airplane King.” And in case anyone forgot, he would remind them by proudly wearing his crown, hanging up banners in his own honor, and announcing, “Make way for King Adam,” when he walked into a room. Once, he even threw himself a parade, but nobody came. Nobody important, that is.
King Adam spent most of his spare time fashioning his latest creations and shouting orders to his little sister Sally, whom he liked to refer to as “the help.” Sally would happily fetch him paper, fold a crease for him in just the right spot, and measure the time and distance of each flight. She often dreamed of earning a crown herself someday and she eagerly jotted notes while King Adam worked. Sometimes she would try out crafts of her own, but Adam would mock her and laugh, so she kept most of her ideas to herself.
After all, he was the bearer of the crown. In fact, other kids at school never even talked to Adam because they were intimidated by his greatness...maybe. They didn’t sit by him at lunch because they were jealous of his skills...of course. In fact, Adam didn’t really have any friends at all. But who needed friends? Not “The Paper Airplane King” - not really.

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

Post by jenn_winters33 » January 20th, 2011, 6:13 pm

Title: Well Played
Genre: YA Suspense
(228 words)

Laney fought the thick cloud of sleep as a rough hand shook her. Her eyes blinked against the bug-swarmed lights, struggling to identify her surroundings. Everything snapped into focus and Laney jumped away from the stranger who was grasping her shoulder. He was dressed in a dirty green coat and faded camo pants and his stench eluded that he hadn’t showered in weeks.

“Wake up girly,” His voice was as ragged as his appearance and Laney swallowed hard against the urge to scream, “Ya can’t sleep here.”

“What?” She asked, yanking at her skirt that had ridden up while she slumped on the gas station bench.

“Ya ain’t allowed to sleep here,” He winked, “Trust me, I know.”

“Uh, thanks,” She said.

He nodded and began to walk away, leaning heavily on his left leg and sending an uneven rhythm of footsteps echoing through the dark parking lot. After a few strides he turned back, “I can show ya the way to the shelter, if’n you want. It’s just up the road aways.”

“No…thanks though…” Laney said.

“Figured, as much,” He said, “Go home kid, runnin away never got anyone nowhere.”

Laney didn’t bother to correct him, but simply nodded.

She watched the old man disappear in to the night, like a shadow melting in to the darkness.
Last edited by jenn_winters33 on May 22nd, 2011, 9:37 am, edited 4 times in total.

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

Post by Inkfinger » January 31st, 2011, 7:31 am

“You lost it? What’re we going to do now?” I gaped at Mum sitting at the kitchen table with her head in her hands, and panic flooded my heart.
“It’s ok, Ryan,” muttered my sister, Kimberly. “We’ll be alright on what I earn at the hotel.” She met my eyes, willing me to stop shouting.
“It’s not the point!” I yelled, and it wasn’t. The alarm I was feeling wasn’t even for the loss of the job, but for what was happening to Mum; what had been happening to her since that horrible day five months ago when a man on the front doorstep had told us Dad was dead and his body lost at sea forever.
“It’s not the point,” I said again. “Mum?” I heard my voice break and hated it. “You’re just giving up. I knew this would happen! You don’t even know if—”
“Ryan.” Kim’s voice held a warning. We all knew what she meant. I wasn’t to talk about ‘my theory.’
I only ever resorted to ‘my theory’ when I was desperate; when I needed something to hold onto. In ‘my theory,’ Dad’s body was never found because he wasn’t dead. He was rescued by a passing boat but he had amnesia and couldn’t remember us. He was living in another country, and someday soon he’d get his memory back and come walking in the front door and everything would be alright again.

Dragons of the Western Tides
Middle Grade, Historical Timeslip Adventure.

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

Post by jenisefrohlinger » February 7th, 2011, 10:33 pm

Title: Never Met A Man Who Wasn't For Sale
Genre: Paranormal

Seth stared out of the taxi cab window and his stomach turned. Oh no, was he going to throw up? He always felt like throwing up when he got nervous. Breath deep, there was no reason to be nervous. Why should he be nervous when he was the luckiest guy on earth? He was in love with the most perfect, smart, quirky, and beautiful woman and they were going to get married. Elyse was his little piece of heaven. All he had to do, first, was get her grandfather’s permission. That shouldn’t be too hard, not really, kind of. Who was he kidding? Louis Cypher scared the shit out of him. The man was power incarnate, a billionaire entrepreneur who controlled half the politicians in Washington, not that anyone could prove it. But one misstep from the wrong person and Cypher could probably off them with a single phone call. Either that or they’d wake up next to a bloodied, decapitated horse head…scary.
The taxi turned north toward the Cypher estate, just a few miles to go. The twisting road didn’t help his stomach. But he would be okay. He had run through the plan in his head fifty-million times and knew exactly what he was going to say to Cypher. But maybe fifty-million and one wouldn’t hurt…he would tell Cypher how much he loved Elyse and that he would do anything, whatever it would take, to make her happy. Cypher would likely say they were too young to get married. So Seth would tell him...

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

Post by Perridox » February 17th, 2011, 10:17 am

Title: Left of Unsaid
Genre: Literary Fiction

Claudette comes banging through the half door that separates the living room from the Idylwilde’s tiny office. They hardly need it. There aren’t many tourists these days. And anyway, the old motel, with its five o’clock shadow of black mold, its damp stinks and peeling paint, would not attract them. "I've been out there waiting on you, like, forever."

Leanne tugs on a pair of jeans. They’re already snug. Daddy would say she was “going Taskett,” thickness around the middle as much a family mark as restlessness and silence. But then Claudette is thin as a rail. Also, there’s a butterfly stir in Leanne’s belly, the possibility of nausea. "You could of come in," Leanne says.

"Like it's any cooler. You’re not even dressed?” Claudette sucks her teeth. “It’s your idea, remember?" She heads back out, and even her walk has an edge to it, a razor swish to the hips. Claudette could do serious damage with those elbows if she wanted to. “Come on!” she hollers a moment later, as if she even cares about these ‘lunch dates’ Leanne arranges for the two of them.

Across the Idylwilde’s dirt lot, Orange Lake shushes up the bank, projecting back the utter blue of the North Florida sky. Beside it, Daddy’s old Datsun truck stands as faithfully as a dog, bearing its rashes of rust and epoxy. Leanne clenches the well-chewed collar of her shirt between her teeth and grits until the cotton gives a gratifying squeal.

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

Post by bkloss » February 17th, 2011, 10:49 am

Title: Gaia's Secret
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 311

Cadence whinnied, raking at the ground, anxious to keep running. Scaring the local dairy cows was her favorite pastime. By the way she acted, you’d think cows were rare. In these parts, there were enough of them to make grass an endangered species. I suspected I’d been around more cows than humans in all my eighteen years of life. That sort of thought does something to your psyche. It’s not a good something either.

Cadence wasn’t my horse. She belonged to our wonderful neighbors who let me ride her whenever I wanted. Riding was my one adventure in life. And I did it every single day, as long as it wasn’t hailing. All my coaxing and tugging couldn’t remove Cadence from that barn when it hailed.

Dark clouds piled themselves behind mountains in the west, each one saturated with deep blues and purples. Tall, golden grasses splayed in chaos, bowing to let the barreling wind pass. Weather always churned here, never committing to one direction.

A sharp gust of wind tore across the fields and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.

That feeling. The one that tells you someone’s watching. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, there’s no mistaking it.

My eyes scanned the empty expanse ahead. Nothing. No life dared to challenge the wind. Even the cows were hiding.

Just as I thought I’d imagined it, I peered over my shoulder.

Beyond the fence stood a man. His figure was veiled from head to toe in a heavy dark cloak, beating at the wind about a tall, thick frame. The shadows deepened over the land as cold air stung my eyes. There was something odd about him, something unnerving. He had a presence that seemed greater than the landscape, as though nature’s pride cowered before him. The man’s face was hidden in the abyss of a drawn hood, but I could feel his gaze. It bore through me: haunted, hollow. Powerful.

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

Post by Matera_the_Mad » February 17th, 2011, 11:38 am

Title:A Drum Is Empty
Genre:Fantasy (Urban-prehistoric)
(251 words)

I swear on my life to be true to the one who has chosen me. May the avenging spirits rise up from the Underworld to devour me if I betray his trust. May the blood freeze in my heart if I disobey him.

Beyond the low rise lay a place of the dead where the Bull band's winter camp should have been. Radovin wobbled to a stop, winning a short battle with the bundle of firewood on his back.

Reality overcame the haunting illusion in one breath. The camp was not deserted, its people were out foraging. Sod and hide covered lodges basked in midday sun, mere lumpy mounds, fires gone to ash on this unseasonably warm day. A solitary trail of smoke rose from an outdoor hearth where two women tended soup. No one else had returned yet. Good. Ivergan would not be waiting for him.

At the shaman's small hut, he turned and let his burden fall with a satisfying crash. He swung his arms a few times, gazing idly across the broad space that separated Ivergan's home from the rest. Despite the sun's warmth, spring was barely a promise here; dirty heaps of snow still lay on the north sides of the lodges. The low rise beyond slept under grass weathered to a dull tan.

The wind brought a teasing whiff of soup. Forget that--no use to beg for an early portion. He was beyond shame when it came to acquiring food, but he didn't need trouble.
A drum is empty always, and when the skin is rightly taut it gives right noise, right sound. Attention is like that.
Jiddu Krishnamurti

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

Post by courtneyv » February 17th, 2011, 12:33 pm

Title: Dropping Like Flies
Genre: YA horror
Word Count: 255
*contains profanity

Sometimes when a person awakens from a coma, even a thirty-seven-hour one, things can be all out of whack. But no one said anything about weird, freakin’ noises. What the hell was that? Wasn’t I in my room, steeling myself for an execution by sneers and those catty, you-don’t-know-shit whispers?

I pinched my arms as I whirled around and around, then palmed my head, groaning. Um, spinning when you’re fresh out of a coma, not brilliant. Okay, definitely awake. I know I heard it, some intercom thingy, paging Dr. Grant Taylor. So familiar. Oh! The coach. Facing the Giants. More religion than football. What a cheat.

Well…whatever. Can’t stress about it now…not when I had birds to kill.

A concussion afflicted me, along with a hideous stitched-up abrasion on my forehead and its good ole neighbor, the most stubborn zit ever to plague a face, having survived three weeks of intense chemical warfare. Fucking die already! Bending toward the mirror, I promptly laid waste to a chunk of frontal locks, killing two albatrosses with one proverbial stone.

I puffed and fingered my new fringe. Good enough I guess, but really, even an extreme makeover couldn’t unmake me the senior chick with the psychotic best friend, who’d bludgeoned her with a rusty pipe from her garage.

When she caught her boyfriend freakin’ ripping me to shreds and smearing blood from my pillaged cherry all over her stupid floral sheets, she’d assumed the worst. Yeah. Let everyone think I’m a skank too. Maybe they’ll shun a traitor.
Last edited by courtneyv on February 18th, 2011, 5:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by kevinott777 » February 17th, 2011, 3:00 pm

Title: The Last Symphony of Juan Garcia
Genre: Literary commercial fiction
Word Count: 232

Not many people have seen the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform in the middle of a freshly plowed field in front of migrant farm workers, but Juan Garcia had seen it fifteen times. He took his seat in the front row. Musicians tried to balance their music stands on the uneven slopes of dirt. Sunlight flashed in the brass bell of a trombone. A few minutes later, cars from the newspapers appeared on the road. Other workers arrived and took their seats. Juan’s eyes wandered along the horizon.

While he waited, he pulled some paper out of a duffel bag that contained towels, a radio, and a pencil and notebook. Rows of numbers filled most of the pages like garbled computer code. He skipped them, found a blank page, and began sketching a woman with long hair and a summer dress. He wrote “Lucy” at the top. After a few moments of staring at the picture and nibbling on the pencil’s eraser, he scribbled in the corner: “I remember your hair after the blow dryer…you’d kiss me…and your hair would hit my face and it was still hot. It wasn’t wet from your shower anymore. Always made me think of the bed sheets when they were fresh out of the dryer. So warm.” Another moment passed. He crumpled up the paper and stuffed it into his pocket. He hated littering where he worked.


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