Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Posts: 1
Joined: July 30th, 2011, 9:08 pm

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

Post by KAL » July 30th, 2011, 9:12 pm

Title: Inviolable Instincts
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Words: 241

He stood there frozen, in the small darkened observation room, peering through the one-way glass into the interview room. His eyes were riveted to the victim where she sat alone, waiting, under the fluorescent lighting. Her petite body barely filled the chair she sat in. Shivering in an upright fetal position, legs drawn up onto the chair, arms wrapped tightly around her knees, she tried to control the shivers that racked her 105-pound frame.

Glancing at his wristwatch, he realized the woman before him had lived through the worst five hours of her life, and he was about to add to that. It was his job as lead Detective in the investigation for the Upland PD, to interview this woman. To gather painful and embarrassing details necessary to aid him in solving the crime. He was aware that the interview and questioning process would add to her distress, and that bothered him.

As he turned away from the victim, it occurred to him that he’d failed to acknowledge the psychiatrist upon entering the room. She stood there, case file clutched to her chest, looking at the victim through frameless bifocals that magnified her solemn hazel eyes.

Clearing his throat, to get her attention, he said, “Hi I’m Detective Dustin Reynolds.” In greeting, he extended his hand.

“Hello Detective, Dr. Ashton. Nice to make your acquaintance.” She replied while barely shaking his hand.

“Have you been on this case long?”

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Posts: 346
Joined: July 31st, 2011, 9:37 am
Location: St Petersburg, Florida

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

Post by MattLarkin » August 1st, 2011, 5:42 pm

Title: Moonrise
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Words: 245

When morning came Chandi would lose her cousin. Pressed against the dhow's hull, she ignored the sea spray as she waited beneath the captain's window. The most powerful moon-touched could run on water. That was beyond Chandi, but she had shifted her gravity the outer hull, beyond the reach of prying solar eyes.

The captain, Bendurana, stood over a chart table, jotting notes in a log. He wore a bright blue sarong and a white baju, dressed as though a solar himself, though his ebony skin told Chandi he must hail from beyond the Skyfalls. Skyfall natives had wheat-colored skin--Bendurana probably came from far Serendib. She ducked down as he glanced in her direction.

She didn't have time for this. For two days she had stewed on the sun-worshipper ship, her mind churning for a way to save her cousin. To save them both from their new home. Now they had reached the solar island, and soon the sound with the solar harbor would come into view. And with it the dawn, and the end of their freedom. She hadn't asked to be a spy, but she had no choice now.

She'd stop all this if she had to tear the dhow apart with her bare hands. The door opened and then closed. The sun worshippers loved to leave their windows open in the dry season, even on their ships. She pulled herself up through the open window and climbed into the captain's cabin. - freelance editing for fantasy and science fiction

Posts: 4
Joined: August 25th, 2011, 3:41 pm

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

Post by LPVENDRELL » August 25th, 2011, 3:44 pm

Author: Luis Vendrell
Word Count: 242

The world laughed at him. It always had. Even alone in his car, it found a way to crush any hope for a day free of ridicule.

A group of middle-school aged kids flicked cigarette ash onto the pavement outside. One pointed and the rest laughed. It wasn't long before they had all joined in on the game. Their taunts were muted by his windows, but their lips were easy to read. Fat, they were calling him fat. Why shouldn't they? Everyone else did. He wished he could say he'd grown a thick skin – that the constant barrage of asinine insults had grown stale with repetition – but that couldn't have been further from the truth.

Theodore Ronald Reagan Parker sat in the parking lot of Bretton Hill's only strip mall and glared at his belly. It pressed outward from his torso and kissed the bottom curve of his steering wheel. The only thing any part of him had ever kissed. He tried to avert his attention, only to become more aware of how his one-size-to-small shirt conformed to the rolls of his gut – like he needed a reminder that his stomach folded more times than a bad poker player. An emblem clung like a groping hand to the slab of his chest. The word's “Lew's Gym” arched over the visage of society's requisite for masculinity, an image that stood in stark contrast to any that Teddy's might convey.

Posts: 5
Joined: August 17th, 2011, 5:11 am

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

Post by simonmabee » September 23rd, 2011, 2:22 am

Title: Don't Mess With Canada
Genre: Humor

July 8, 2017. Calcutta, India.

“Black Sheep this is Uncle Tom standby while we await operational confirmation from Papa Smurf, over.”

This is not a happy story.

“Roger that Uncle Tom, the herd is in position and awaiting the signal, over.”

This is the story of two friends.

“Uncle Tom this is the Stable. We have received a ‘go’ from Papa Smurf. I repeat, Operation Abbey Road is a go.”

One friend was big, powerful, and arrogant.

“Black Sheep this is Uncle Tom. Papa Smurf has responded in the affirmative. I repeat, we are clear to proceed as planned. This will be the last contact we will have until you make it back home eh, God speed.”

The other friend was quiet, supportive, and polite except when wearing skates.

“Alright Uncle Tom. We are moving out. I promise to be home before curfew, eh.”

The polite friend constantly took abuse from their neighbor. Until one day they had had enough. Though smaller and weaker the friend decided it was high time someone showed them some respect.

George gunned the engine throwing the other three back in their seats. The black van shot down the narrow streets of Calcutta. A macaque that was
peacefully eating a child’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich was hurled from the top of the van and smashed its skull on the hard street below. A young boy emerged from his house and played with the dead monkey for five minutes before his mother found him and scolded him. This boy would go on to be India’s most renowned veterinarian.

Posts: 2
Joined: April 9th, 2011, 2:53 pm

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

Post by hlilburn » October 13th, 2011, 12:09 pm

Title: Simbiote
Genre: YA urban sci-fi

Proloug Surgery
“Kal, stay with me son.”
A silhouette loomed in front of me, partially blocking the intense lights of the makeshift operating room. I felt the surgeon slapping my face, trying to keep me awake. He’d have to slap me much harder if he was trying to compete with the pain inside me.
“Almost got it. Won’t be long now.” He had a firm grip of the handle of a clamp that was shoved down my mouth. He had the steel apparatus all the way down my second esophagus, secured it tightly, and began pulling it back out.
Tears drained into my ears. I grasped the bottom of my surgical chair that was bolted to the floor, scraping my nails on the metal.
The Doc had been my black-market surgeon since I went into the trade. Every year when harvest time approached, I sought out his expertise. I wasn’t his only patient. I’m sure there were donors all over Vale City that went to him. He had the connections. He usually had a list of buyers waiting and ready for their precious therapy. That’s what he called it. Therapy. I voluntarily went through this torture to provide the human colonists with their much needed dose of hormonal meds.
Even with Doc’s enhanced physique it took a fair amount of exertion to pull out the bulb. Manual extraction was the only way to remove the bulb without crushing it. The symbiotic Bengen Bulb could fetch me a million dollars if it was still intact. It was unfortunate that selling it to humans was totally illegal.

Sheryl Gwyther
Posts: 1
Joined: October 13th, 2011, 6:47 pm

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

Post by Sheryl Gwyther » October 13th, 2011, 6:55 pm

GENRE: Contemporary fantasy for 8-12 year olds
(250 words)

I don’t know anyone else who's tested the fourth law of the Great Vampyre Reformation of 1812.
Testing! Who am I kidding? I’m about to break the Fourth law.
I crouch on my window sill above the twilight garden. The mango tree branch is a long way off, the garden path a drop below.
Doubt sends a shiver up my spine.
I wriggle the fear from my toes and stare at the rising moon. If the vampyres of old could leap across space, why can’t we?
My puny leg muscles tighten, ready for the launch.
Five ... four ... three ... two ... one ...
The bedroom door flies open.
‘Stop!’ Mum shrieks.
‘No!’ Dad yells.
I wobble in fright. Then tip forward, clutching at the air. Dad grabs my pyjama shirt and hauls me back inside.
My hearts slides back into place as I straighten my shirt. ‘Phew! Thanks, Dad. I was trying to fly, well, not exactly fly, more like leap. Like the ancient vampyres.’
‘Fan-gus Fear-bottom!’ Dad’s voice wobbles. His face is grey, his moustache droops on either side of his mouth. ‘I’m ... I’m ... lost for words!’
Mum, unfortunately, has plenty of them. ‘How could you do such a stupid, dangerous thing, Fangus? You know the Fourth Law ... You shall not shape-shift nor leap across space. What if the others saw you? They’d report us.’ She’s not talking about our human neighbours. ‘What possessed you to even want to break one of the laws?’
Last edited by Sheryl Gwyther on February 27th, 2012, 4:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 2
Joined: October 13th, 2011, 7:38 pm

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

Post by sherifredricks » October 13th, 2011, 7:46 pm

Title: The Remedy-Maker
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
241 Words

Screams of the terrified echoed through the corridors of Rhycious's mind. Shouts from warriors and cries of agony ebbed away as the pounding of his heart crescendoed in ritardando.

He gripped the rough hewn table in front of him with both hands, forcing himself to concentrate on the picturesque view of the Boronda Forest beyond the kitchen window. Bloody fallen soldiers lay scattered in his reminiscence like the deadfall they were. He and his team of medics couldn't keep up with the gruesome carnage. Body parts flung high in the trees, left to hang, picked clean by scavengers.

Rhy shook his head and blew a hard breath. Night had fallen hours ago and no Wood Nymphs attacked his fellow herdsmen. No war existed between the races any longer.

He was safe from the horrific scenes his memory served.

Sweat dampened his forehead and Rhycious fought the flashback's tidal wave with even, regulated breaths. Gritted teeth unclenched, one facial muscle at a time, his back straightened with determination, vertebrae by vertebrae. He hadn't started the battle that lasted nearly two centuries, but the clashing races damn well made it his emotional baggage.

He relaxed the anchored grasp of one hand and raised his wrist to see the time. The tremor in his arm caused the digital numbers to dance before his eyes. Pan, help me. The god who reigned over terror and panic must be having a good laugh on his account.

Posts: 1
Joined: October 13th, 2011, 9:37 pm

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

Post by JJohnson » October 13th, 2011, 9:53 pm

Title: [Untitled]
Genre: Historical Mystery/Romance

As she put one foot onto the old chair, its dry wood squeaked in protest. Amelia's heart jumped a beat. If this keeps up, the rickety chair is going to splinter into pieces under her weight and sound the alarm of her escape. She looked around the room but the only other pieces of furniture were a small modest table that didn't look like it would support the weight of a kerosene lamp and the cot itself. The cot would make too much noise dragging across the floor so she had no other choice but to continue with the inferior chair. As she put her second foot on the chair, she reached up and grabbed the window frame to help take some of her weight off the chair. The chair sounded out another protest and the wooden window frame joined in the duet but they both held together. She managed to pull herself up until her chest was resting on the window frame. She was gasping for air from the effort and her aching arms wanted to rest but there was no time. She needed to get the rest of her body up and through the opening soon before she was discovered. Scraping and kicking at the wall with her feet as she attempted to climb and push off it, she used the remaining strength in her arms to wrestle and pull her waist onto the window sill. Her voluminous skirts hid her legs now dangling inside the room and her head was sticking out the other side while her waist rested unsteadily on the window sill.

Posts: 1
Joined: October 14th, 2011, 5:01 pm

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

Post by katiej » October 14th, 2011, 5:08 pm

Title: Untitled
Genre: Speculative Fiction

Tonight was the night. The deep red sun stood reluctantly on the edge of the horizon, looking over its shoulder at the burning landscape. It was only May, but already the days were throbbing with humid heat. Isaac Snow rested his temple against the rail-post of his parents’ back porch and closed his eyes. A trickle of sweat rolled down his jawline.

The screen door swung gently open behind him, squeaking on its rusty hinges, and a pair of sandaled feet came out. Isaac put his hand up to help his mother sit down beside him on the cracking stone step. Sitting with a sigh, she gathered her long skirt about her ankles and handed him a Mason jar full of sun tea, choked to the brim with ice cubes. As he held the jar, she tore open a small white packet of what looked like sugar, and poured it into Isaac’s tea, tossing the crumpled wrapper on the stone step between them. He picked up the crumpled scrap of paper and smoothed it out with his thumb, reading the label: Public Consumable #42.

The earth breathed a sigh of relief as the sun finally stepped over the hill and disappeared.

Posts: 1
Joined: October 15th, 2011, 1:31 pm

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

Post by astanton » October 15th, 2011, 1:40 pm

Title: CLICK
Genre: Literary Fiction
Words: 280

Andrew Manning didn’t want to kill his father, but his mother didn’t have the guts to do it herself.

“He shouldn’t be in such terrible pain,” she said, standing behind Andrew, her hands clamped onto his shoulders. She pushed him forward; he didn’t resist.

“We wouldn’t want people to see him like this,” she added. “It’s too upsetting.”

His mother had made the mistake of calling for an ambulance when Andrew’s father collapsed; she’d panicked and forgotten about his Living Will. Richard Manning didn’t want artificial support.

Andrew reminded the Intensive Care physician about the will and Margaret departed the hospital room for the waiting area. The attending typed notes on his laptop while Andrew watched his cancer-ridden father’s chest rise and fall only because of the steady, unjudging pumping of the machine to which he was connected.

The windowless room felt like a prison cell, the walls squeezing in and a dull grey color radiating everywhere. Andrew scraped a metal chair to his father’s side. He swallowed the sourness of knowing they were out of time.

How odd to see his father this way—so frail and collapsed. He’d once been a big man, over six feet, with a solid build, and piercing, hooded eyes. A hawk in the family. Now his arms above the blue cotton hospital blanket were withered and etched with veins, as if his flesh was being sucked away.

Andrew remembered, as a boy, marveling at those arms as they plunged a shovel into the heavy topsoil behind the house and pulled up great mounds of dirt. He’d sat on the cement porch stoop and wondered if his own arms would ever be that strong.

Posts: 1
Joined: October 17th, 2011, 6:41 pm

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

Post by RachaelW » October 17th, 2011, 6:44 pm

Title: King
Genre: Literary Fiction
239 words

The rain came down like gunfire, making a noise like bullets as it hit the dull-green roofs of the Imperial projects, ratatatatat, but it wasn’t buggin’ Davion Jackson none. Davion knew that bugging ended in a g, not an n, but that was the way his sister Antwanette said it when she was mad at him—“Ooh, boy, you is buggin’,” without the me—and to say bugging-with-a-g here on a street in Watts was as good as saying you were a white boy. And Davion did not want to be called a white boy, even if he knew white-boy words and had white-boy brains. Antwanette knew about bugging-with-a-g, too, since she’d had Ms. Lloyd for sophomore English last year, just like he had Ms. Lloyd for sophomore English this year—but his whole family had just about had their fill of white people lately, especially Ms. Lloyd, so buggin’-without-the-g it was.

When he crossed over Central—past the sign that said “Welcome to Watts” but really meant “Welcome to South Los Angeles,” probably put up, Davion thought, by some white people who thought all ghetto neighborhoods were the same—he wiped his glasses on his white uniform shirt so that he could see the skyscrapers downtown. They stood tall and dark-skinned against the November rain, like the men who, five years ago, had carried his father’s coffin down the church steps and into the waiting hearse. The pallbearers. Ms. Carrothers had been his teacher back then, when he was in fifth grade, and she’d been surprised when he’d said that word. But he’d found that white teachers were usually surprised at the words ’hood kids knew: Pallbearers. Alimony. Incarcerated.

Posts: 11
Joined: October 17th, 2011, 8:52 pm

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

Post by DanaE » October 17th, 2011, 8:59 pm

Title: Riding the Dam
Genre: MG Humor, coming-of-age

It was a day like any other summer day in San Angelo—hot, dry, and full of possibilities. Today was the day Raymond and I were going to ride the dam. This was not just any dam, but the biggest dam in the world. I never questioned this fact, but simply understood if it was in Texas, it had to be the biggest.

Raymond and I both had bicycles, but I had decided early on that it was a lot of work to pedal around looking for ways to spice up our days, so I convinced Raymond to let me ride on his handlebars while he did the pedaling. I told him that this arrangement allowed for easier conversation. This method was not without its risks. Some kids got their toes cut off in the spokes of a bike riding like this, so I developed toes like an eagle's talons to wrap around the front axle.

It took us thirty minutes to get to the extreme end of the dam and there, we began our slow assent to the highest point. It was straight uphill and Raymond was pedaling, almost standing straight up. This was going to be harder than we thought. Raymond almost immediately began to question his supplying all the man power as I did the navigating. It took a lot of convincing, but I explained that in addition to providing good conversation, I could watch for rattlesnakes. Raymond was deathly afraid of rattlesnakes. We’d never actually seen any; but I reminded Raymond that it was always a possibility.

Posts: 16
Joined: January 9th, 2011, 3:29 pm

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

Post by bforlenza » November 4th, 2011, 9:38 am

Romantic Suspense
Work Count: 250

After a few erratic twists of the steering wheel, Cheryl got the Jaguar close enough to the curb. The no-parking sign on the sidewalk didn’t bother her. Let the damn thing get towed. A visit to the Brooklyn Impound Lot would serve PJ right.

She checked her makeup job in the rearview mirror. Not great, but it covered the bruises. If no one looked too closely, they might think she was wearing one of those new smoky eyeshadows.

The muggy night air enveloped her while the light mist clung to her face. Crossing the street, she ignored the ridiculous line that wound around the building and went straight to the entrance of the club.

The muscle-bound doorman stepped forward and blocked her way. She smiled at him with more confidence than she felt, and wished she was wearing something more revealing. The tailored silk dress and low heels that had worked so well at the country club weren’t cutting it here. Normally, she hated the way guys always zoomed in on her body and blond hair, but tonight it would have worked.

“I’m on the list. I know the owner.” His smirk told her he had heard that line a million times. “Cheryl Benson. Just check it out.”

Her heart pounded hard against her chest. What if Eddie forgot to add her? What if she couldn’t get in? Where would she go?

He finally looked up, his quick nod like a facial tick. “Are you going in or not, sweetheart?”

Posts: 7
Joined: June 30th, 2011, 7:45 pm

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

Post by jojocookie » November 4th, 2011, 3:08 pm



Chapter One

“Where am I?” Sitting up I rub my eyes and look around. All I can see are big and
small shadows. Nothing is making sense. My hand brushes against the wall feeling bumpiness
and peeling paint. “Wait a minute. I don’t remember this. It isn’t my room, what is it?” A
small and confusing alarm starts to go off in my head, followed by a deep sense of something
lost. I grab the blanket covering my body and squeeze it between my fingers. “It’s smooth, it’s
not a blanket.” Stumped I stare blindly in space trying to interpret what the objects mean. The
cushions, the plastic plant in the corner, the chair propped up under the door knob. This is not
my bedroom. I don’t live there anymore. I forgot I’m in a closet in the basement of a theatre
and studio. What time is it? Did I oversleep? I stand up and then fall back down. “OH NO!”

Posts: 10
Joined: November 19th, 2011, 1:59 pm

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

Post by anamk » November 19th, 2011, 2:13 pm


“City of Dangers. What a name! No wonder the vampires decided to make it their headquarters.” Alexis muttered.

“The name changed to that after the vampires decided to make it their headquarters.” Old Namaro sighed. He was hopeful that his pupil will learn to appreciate the sacrifices made by the noble priests in keeping the humans safe.

White carriages parked outside the wooden doors of the grand Doric. With great horror and disgust Alexis stepped down on the ground. Long dark shades were already evident on the grey sky which added to his fury. Only if Dionysus had not called them for the meeting. Or rather him.

“Do not forget you need permission to enter the Doric.” Naramo reminded while flashing his silver stick at the door before it opened and welcomed the familiar priest inside the holy ancient building which was made by the forefathers and was protected by the white magic of the silver sticks.

His trembling slim fingers reached inside the inner pocket of his long cloak searching for his stick; instead, Alexis found his messenger bird. Flapping its colourful small wings it freed itself from the darkness of the cloak and waited impatiently for a message to deliver.

Reluctantly, he tried again but all he could find were handwritten notes that said things like “Learn how to use silver sticks” and “How to be an organized priest.”

“Don’t stare at me, Evie.” Alexis noticed his messenger bird gazing at him.


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