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 klbritt » June 26th, 2014, 3:18 pm

TITLE: Ashes to Ashes
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

He opened his eyes to gray, dusty air and a chill he couldn't escape. This of course, was unusual. In his previous lives they had all but started with a BANG, and then bursts of colors, marked liked prisms dancing with happy chirps and lackadaisical beats. He always woke to beauty. This was not beauty.

This was definitely the opposite of beauty.

Rank Fischer knew he was different. All his lives, he never quite fit with the in-crowd, nor with the stoners or geeks. He was gray, as if shadowed by the low-setting sun and he was tall and thin as a wisp of hair. Which, speaking of, was charcoal and could never be tamed so he always looked like he just woke up from either a horrific nightmare or had a wild night with multiple women. Of course the latter could not be true because he was never in one place long enough to meet any wild women; or tame, for that matter. He was constantly moving, always unsettled amidst the beauty of the world.

He stood now in a scorched and decimated land, where tall grasses and bushes had once reached for the sky but were now reduced to ash and soot. Burnt fragments of once well-loved cars and buildings now blown to bits, littered the ground. The damage was all around, as far as he could see. He noted as he stood in this place, void of beauty, that it looked a lot like him.

-: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read - Groucho Marx :-

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Joined: June 26th, 2014, 1:07 pm

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

Post by GeniP » June 28th, 2014, 3:09 pm

Title: Poison Apples
Genre: YA MR
First 246 words:

You can’t kill someone at a bake sale; death and dessert don’t mix. But as the too-blonde curls and too-tight shirt leaned closer to my boyfriend – ex-boyfriend- than cupcake sales required, the prohibition crumbled. With every giggle, Josie Connor was killing me.

I slumped against a metal chair and glared futile daggers from behind the streamer-lined table. Beside me, ever-loyal Mari skimmed a cookie and passed me half. I bit down hard. “How can she flirt so blatantly? She knows how much I like Lance. She knows how good we are together.”

Mari’s hand stalled a few inches shy of her mouth. “Were together. Past tense. You realize it’s over, don’t you?”

I chewed in silence. Tasty cookie. Chocolate chip peanut butter, or maybe butterscotch fudge? Halfway through a bake sale, the flavors ran together.

Mari turned her chair to block my view of Josie’s shampoo-commercial hair and waived off an incoming soccer mom. “Snow, he dumped you. He didn’t say it was all about him, or it wasn’t the right time. He dumped you in front of half the junior class.” She wiped the crumbs from her hands. “It is seriously, completely over.”

I broke another cookie, ignoring the disapproving frown from the librarian/bake sale sheriff at the next table. Golden raisins, what a let down. Lance leaned further over the cupcake table. I took a second, sympathy bite- not every cookie could have chocolate chips.

“You’re still watching them.”

I trashed the lackluster cookie.

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Joined: June 25th, 2014, 12:11 am

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

Post by Merallack » June 30th, 2014, 12:21 pm

Title: Melia's Chemistry
Genre: YA/Middle Grade Sci Fi

Water poured off of Melia Herrera, leaving her completely dry. She sat up quickly as it splashed away, falling down off of the bed, dripping from the coverlet, disappearing into cracks between the floorboards.
Squinting, she peered around the room, willing herself back to the present. It had been the same dream again: a teenage girl running through the woods on a cold winter evening, running from something, taking a shortcut across the pond and breaking through the ice. Melia always fell with her, crashing through the frozen crust to be wakened by the dreamtime shock of immersion. And always before she woke, Melia saw the girl in the murky water: her dark hair like seaweed, eyes wide and arms thrashing, the heavy bookbag dragging her down.
Melia now stared, as was usual after The Dream, at a framed portrait on the bookcase opposite her bed. It showed the same dark-haired young woman, warm and dry, sitting on a stone wall. She gazed out of the frame with a mixture of playfulness and humor. One hand caught at the dark strands of hair winding under her chin – it appeared to be a breezy day – and the other was permanently paused in mid-gesture. She was obviously about to say something to the person behind the camera. Melia knew very little about the two people immortalized by this picture, the photographer and the young woman, except that one was her father and the other was - or had been - her mother.

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Joined: July 6th, 2014, 11:36 pm

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

Post by Sinner » July 6th, 2014, 11:44 pm

Title: A Sinner's Guide to Church Camp
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
(first 248 words)

The worst part about losing my virginity was the look on my mother’s face when she strolled into the room with a plate of cookies and two glasses of milk, one for me and one for my ’study buddy’. The look of terror on her face as she dropped both glasses of milk on the carpet, frozen, staring at us.

Unable to get dressed I had no option but to speak first.

“Mom can we have a little privacy?” I asked.

I do not know what I expected but I didn’t expect Mom to pick up my varsity tennis racket and swat in the air towards Derek as if he's a wayward fly buzzing around my room. Nevertheless, I watched in horror as Derek scrambled to stuff his leg into his pants while my mother swatted him on the bare butt with my pink, Wilson BLX Racket.

“Get out,” I shouted covering myself with my bedspread. I didn’t want the disapproving stare from my mother any longer, nor did I want anything further to do with Derek, sure I love him but at these moments one reflects and realizes that your first time should not be at home, with your mother downstairs watching Days of our Lives. Not that I planned it, Derek did just come over to study for tomorrow’s science final but one thing led to another and the next thing I knew we were naked in bed being interrupted by my mother delivering snacks.

Posts: 3
Joined: July 6th, 2014, 6:20 pm

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

Post by ryankalford » July 9th, 2014, 3:37 am

Title: Recoded Volume I: Alan and Rachael
Genre: Social Sci-fi

They walked along the steel corridors at a brisk pace, hand in hand.

“Are you sure this is going to work,” Alyssa said, more than a hint of annoyance in her voice. “I mean—concerning me and your brother?”

“Oh, I have no doubts, darling. Davey’s the type who can hardly resist a charming damsel—especially one wrapped around me.”

Her green eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. “So now I’m your trinket to be paraded around a bunch of loathsome fools and their spoiled little bitches?”

“Only for the few minutes necessary, darling. I promise.” He squeezed her hand. “We’ve both handled far more dangerous situations than large crowds of wine sippers and gossip mongers.”

“Don’t patronize me,” she snapped. “It’s bad enough playing your showcase ornament.” She scratched at the broach wrapped around her neck; a shining blood ruby clasped to its front. “All this filthy make-up and mascara those stupid chink pigs smeared on me. And these damnable high heels! I can barely keep my feet straight.”

As her tirade went on, he couldn’t help but grin. He always found her quite endearing when she was flustered.

“Don’t be silly, Alyssa, darling. You look dashing,” he said. His eyes traced over the crimson silk dress that hugged her bosom and hips. Its color complemented the styled bun her flaming red hair curled back into, anointing her like a crown. “Absolutely gorgeous.”

“That’s exactly the problem.” She tugged again at her broach. “I feel naked without my knife.”

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Joined: July 29th, 2014, 5:59 pm

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

Post by damspaugh » July 29th, 2014, 6:06 pm

Title: The Hack List
Genre: Thriller

They stepped into the restaurant that evening, making them known like a monster that has been slumbering away for years. That monster invariably woke up hungry and needed food to sustain life. Though, sometimes that monster only wanted to flex its power and inflict pain. Years of oppression made the world harsh to it and it needed to release raw energy. Mother Nature was known to wreak havoc and cause change. Some of those changes were revolutionary. Mother Nature, it would seem, had another trick up her sleeve.

In the corner of the restaurant, four jovial customers were about to saddle up to a round table. The table wasn’t big at all. It was a normal table that could comfortably sit four people without much difficulty. There would be more than enough room to spare on the left and right side.

But in this case the table was as wide as the four men. They were laughing about something with their mouths open wide. Their bellies were all shaking and each of them had the normal flare that would accompany people of good size. They took a great deal of effort to squeeze around other tables and chairs so they wouldn’t be disturbed.

One of them caught the eyes of a waiter standing not too far from this table, mostly because the table was going to be his first for the evening. The waiter, as usual, had hoped for a few more minutes before waiting on customers.

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Joined: August 2nd, 2014, 11:05 pm

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

Post by ctegan » August 2nd, 2014, 11:21 pm

Title: The Changeling Child
Genre: Young Adult

Inside the voices were rising. Outside the temperature was dropping. He pulled his coat tighter around him to block out the night chill. “Oh, little Connor, I better be gettin’ in there before yer parents wake up the wee ‘un.” He knelt one knee to the ground and touched gently the makeshift cross before him. Eyes closed, he blessed himself, kissed the tips of his fingers and extended that kiss back to the cross, before standing up again. The ground crunched and crackled under his boots. Closer to the little house, a third voice joined the angry chorus, weaker than her parent’s voices but no less audible. “Ach, it’s too late. The wee ‘un’s awake now, poor thing.”

“Hush now, my sweet babe. Your mother’s here.”

“Shut her up, Fiona. Shut the banshee up! She never gives us a moment’s peace, that one.”

He opened the door and stepped inside. The adults quieted, but the child’s cries continued. “She’s not a banshee, Seamus. She’s your daughter.”

“Aye then, you’re only part right. She’s neither.”

“Seamus!” the woman gasped. “Hush now, my babe, your father didn’t mean it.”

“She’s no more my daughter than that boy was my son.” Seamus’ matter-of-factness was greeted with silence. He offered, in defense, his explanation, “He had the devil in him, and so does she.”

“Hush, love, hush. Your mother’s here. You shouldn’t say such things, Seamus. You know they’re not true.”

“I know what I’ve seen. I know what the doctor said when he examined her .. when he examined him. She’s sick and so was he. And not with somethin’ as simple as a cold, woman. She’ll die just like he did ..”

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Location: Northern California

Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Post by RedBrick » August 26th, 2014, 7:03 pm

Working Title: 7 December Milan
Genre: International thriller
Word Count: 259

The note read simply: “Marco, I’m in trouble. I’m worried about my family. Can we meet Sunday morning for coffee at Caffe Cavour? Gianni.”

Marco stared at note from his brother-in-law which had been hand-delivered to the duty officer at the La Spezia Polizia di Stato headquarters. The sealed white envelope had Marco’s name scribbled on the front. It looked like Gianni was in a hurry.

Marco was puzzled why Gianni had delivered the note to the Questura and had not called him if his family was in danger. Strange. The reference to Gianni’s family was disturbing; Gianni was married to Marco’s sister, Nicoletta. Nico and Gianni had two young children, 7 year old Anita and 3 year old Davide.

Gianni was a mid-level customs agent at the La Spezia port between Genoa and Pisa on Italy’s northwestern coast on the Ligurian Sea. La Spezia was an important commercial port and arsenal for the Italian Navy. Gianni was assigned to the port’s inspection unit that offloaded and inspected shipping containers arriving and departing from ports in the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Middle East.

Marco re-read the brief note, stuck it in the suit coat pocket, and headed to the parking lot behind the police station. When Marco reached his car, he took out his cell phone and punched Gianni’s cell number. Marco had to find out if this was an emergency which needed immediate attention. As an experienced police officer, he was trained to be suspicious.

“Pronto, ciao Marco,” Gianni answered after one ring.

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Joined: April 2nd, 2014, 7:00 pm

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

Post by cmarch » August 26th, 2014, 8:02 pm

Leo slammed down the phone. When that was not enough, he picked it up and threw it across the room, ripping the cord from the wall.
Marcy jumped out of her typing chair and started backing toward the door.

“Sorry,” he said. “Another deal went south. You may have to call that agency and tell them you need another job.”

“It will get better.” Marcy edged back to her desk as Leo shrugged into his jacket. “One sale would do it, right? Here in Carmel? I mean the houses are worth…”

“I know what they’re worth. I sell them, or I used to. That deal was mine. I knew it. Dammit, I knew it. They looked at the house four times, for God’s sake. It was priced way under market. I don’t know what people want.”

“There’s a lot of houses for sale,” Marcy said.

Leo had never noticed how a line formed on her forehead when she frowned. “How long have you been here?”

“Almost a month. I’m getting my real estate license."

Leo blinked. “Why?”

"Things are bound to pick up.” Marcy smiled, revealing white teeth too perfect to be real. “Everyone wants to get ahead, don’t they?”

“I have no idea.”

Relax. This is a dream.

Leo shook his head to dispel the voice. He needed a drink and he needed to silence the voice that had been pestering him for weeks, nattering on about dreams and dreaming. The unpaid bills on his desk were no dream.

Contemporary fantasy, 250 words

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Joined: August 26th, 2014, 9:18 pm

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

Post by vldixon » August 26th, 2014, 9:21 pm

Mourn Their Courage: A Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel

Lord Liu Jie looked at his 200 hungry recruits, sure they expected him to fill their bellies, end the drought and bring peace to the world. He stood on the inn’s first floor landing in his cotton robes and scholar’s cap as they toasted him in drunken roars as if he had the answers to all life’s questions.
As if most of them won’t die under my command within six months. He clenched his fists. Heavenly Emperor, please don't let me betray their trust.
Beside him on the stair's narrow landing, General Tong Zhang’s armor emphasized his girth. His single eyebrow, bristling mustache and beard completed an intimidating picture. The general drained his tankard and slammed the metal cup against the stair's supporting pillar. The sharp crack broke through the chatter.
Jie took a deep breath. "Emperor Xien has warned us about rebels robbing from Imperial warehouses — stealing from all of us and threatening the capital.
"We must do more than be wary. Our Imperial Father is in danger and we must protect him and our families." The Emperor was in danger – from his own advisers and policies. From the mass starvation those policies enforced.
"I will beg Emperor Xien to release the Imperial grain reserves, but to do that, I must win past these rebels. I need your help." The room was so quiet now, they had no problem hearing him. "General Tong Zhang will see you are fed and I will pay those who serve."

Tom Bradley Jr.
Posts: 1
Joined: August 27th, 2014, 1:12 pm

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

Post by Tom Bradley Jr. » August 27th, 2014, 1:21 pm

Crime fiction
Word count: 234

With an earsplitting “crack,” the papaya exploded.

Seeds and pulp pelted a man called Waha Nui as his hand grabbed at empty air where the ripe fruit used to be. When a second shot clipped a small branch from the tree, he threw himself face-first into the mud.

A voice from somewhere in the rain: “Watufaka?”

Waha Nui—it meant “big mouth,” what folks called him back in the day because it was like he could never shut up—peered at the thick old koa forest behind him and considered making a run for its deep, protective cover.

But he changed his mind when a third round hit a rock, awful damn close. Tiny pieces of ancient volcanic shrapnel stung his forehead.

Waha Nui thought, This is nuts. Bruddah’s trying to cap me over a stinking papaya. “Hey, c’mon, man. Swear I won’t take none. Just let me go and we’re all good. Okay?”

Mud splattered the top of his head when a fourth shot thwacked the ground a foot or so in front of him.

“No,” the voice said. “It ain’t okay.”

He felt the smart phone in his pocket, sandwiched between the ground and his meaty thigh, and wanted so bad to call for help but he remembered there were no bars on this part of the island. Besides, there was no one he could call anyway.

Because there’s nobody I trust.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 28th, 2014, 12:07 am

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

Post by Elioconnor » August 28th, 2014, 12:14 am

Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 247

Ennetha never had liked living under water—who would’ve thought this would one day save her life? She stared down at her hands, studying their wiry and nimble strength. Her skin was darker than it used to be. No longer was it the pale, translucent white belonging to her kind. Her tanned knuckles had lines etched in them, looking more like the hands of the Eartheners she lived amongst. They had long since forgone the plump, flawless texture of the Aqueous, the water beings. That would be the sun’s doing; her price for living on land. However, her hands now were stronger, faster than those of her people. Forcing them to work outside their natural element had increased their resilience.

She stared down at her skilled, capable hands and contemplated the news of her sister’s murder.

​“I must have your answer, Nineve,” Ghan said.

​Ennetha’s vibrant blue eyes shot to his, hot with anger and grief. “Do not use that name again or this meet is over.”

They sat facing each other, only a beaten down wooden table between them—for which Ghan should feel grateful. If it weren’t for that damn hunk of wood, her fist might have found its way across the distance. She glanced at Ghan’s hands, which were busy twisting together inside the dual tunnels of his dark robe. He’d used fine grains of sienna dirt to mask his paleness—which was just beginning to peek through.

Ghan sent her a twisted smile. “I would have thought you still held a faint regard for your sovereign name.”

Posts: 1
Joined: September 3rd, 2014, 1:14 am

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

Post by Rachela » September 3rd, 2014, 1:15 am

TItle: Think of Me
Genre: YA Fiction
Wordcount: 275

I hadn’t been able to write all summer, but I still carried the blue notebook everywhere, in hopes that my muse would find me again. The inspiration never came though, and now I’d lost the notebook and with it all my words so seamlessly strung together. That notebook was a monument to my relationship with Dawson, holding a poem, song, story, or sketch to mark every kiss, every date, and every touch. There were also pages filled with anguish, ink smudged with tears, that marked every fight, every bruise, all the hard times, and the end of them.
I hadn’t been able to write since Mrs. Fields called that day. I was sitting on my shaggy rug, my blue notebook in hand, leaning up against my unmade bed when I heard my mother’s voice break over the phone.
Are you…c-certain?” She hung up the phone before there could have been an answer. I closed my eyes and rested my head on the soft mattress of my bed. By the time she turned into my room and rested her lean body on the doorframe, arms crossed against her stomach, tears were streaming down my face and I knew. That last poem I had been writing that day still remained unfinished, wherever it was. I could never find the words to finish it, or any other.
Remembering that moment when I penned the last words in my journal I finally gave up on my wild-goose-chase and conceded that I’d never find it again. Compared with all the other losses I’d endured in the last year, I decided I could live without it if I had to.

Posts: 2
Joined: September 4th, 2014, 8:39 pm

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

Post by MaryDuquette » September 4th, 2014, 8:49 pm

Title: Song of Cerberus
Genre: Commercial/Upmarket Fiction
Word count: 235

It wasn’t the Studebakers’ annual fall bash that made Susie feel like she had gum stuck in her hair. They were, after all, a couple who held semi-royalty status around town. No one declined an invitation to a Studebaker party, if possible. And the party was indolent; conniving. It waited for her in the cracks, biding its time, whispering its way into her consciousness like a bad top 40 song. Nonetheless, Susie leaned toward staying home. No matter which way she turned her head, the idea of staying smacked her in the face, entreated her to slide under the comforter, the thought of slices of brie and cantaloupe and bad television lingering over her like a seduction. It was Richard who had pushed the party. “Just for a while,” he said, and Susie tried to believe him, although somewhere inside she knew they would be there for the entire evening.

She gave one last, wistful glance toward the bed as she left, imagining throwing back the sheets and becoming cloaked like a pig-in-a-blanket, sandwiched between a layer of cheese and the soft chewiness of a crescent roll. Warmth and comfort, with a side of carbs. Undignified and indulgent.

They walked down the stairs to the living room where Chris sat with Brigitta, the nanny, watching television and eating popcorn. Susie stooped down and kissed his cheek. “Bye, little man,” she said. “Have fun with Brigitta.”
Last edited by MaryDuquette on September 16th, 2014, 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jessica Cole
Posts: 1
Joined: September 16th, 2014, 3:25 pm

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

Post by Jessica Cole » September 16th, 2014, 3:30 pm

Title: A Unified Theory of Love
Genre: Literary Fiction
Word count: 292

She had been staring out the window so long that the sunset had flared and gone out. That afternoon, heavy curtains of rain had lowered over a warm morning; now a few early snowflakes, illuminated by the streetlight, fell like ash. All seasons in a day.

Soon she would have to finish getting ready. She had reluctantly promised her brother, Reed, to be his date at the Harvard Autumn Dance. She could picture the banner stretched across the doorway: Moonlight Cocktails and Kalamazoo in ’42. Glenn Miller bulwarked against worry and grief.

Elizabeth turned over on the creaky bed. As a little girl, she had halfway believed that when she flipped from her back to her stomach, or from her right side to her left, she could alter outcomes. Not events, those were too heavy and rooted. Nor could any movements erase the lines like a ruined column carved between her father’s dense eyebrows. But small feelings, momentary happenings. The first summer her family had rented the house in Southern Poland, her mother had fussed at her for staying in the Tatra mountains after the sky had turned blackberry dark. The next morning, shamed into foregoing a trip into Zakopane for groceries, Elizabeth did her penance draped over the hot grass, the heel of the sun pressed into her spine. Underneath her, insects scurried, the blades hummed. Hearing her mother’s steps on the stone walk, she turned over, and the world went red behind her shut eyes. When she had told her father about seeing cave paintings on the insides of her eyelids, he had reprimanded her gently: “Nothing compares to what you see with your eyes open.” She squinted and her mother was a dark shape above her, extending her hand.


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