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 rightergirl » June 10th, 2010, 2:50 pm

Title: Life First
Genre: Thriller
First 250 words

As I walked down the hallway with my father, I stared at the rug beneath my feet, wanting more than anything else to be like it. Yes, a strange desire. But, well placed, as the rug was a fake. It was good at pretending to be something it wasn’t. That’s what I needed to be tonight: a good pretender.

The rug was better than me. Most people would think it was a hand-made Persian rug. It had temple outlines, red and blue swirls, and was exquisitely woven — a little too exquisitely. That was the telltale sign it was a fake, that it was made by a machine in some warehouse in Indiana, not labored over for hours by hand in the Middle East.

I looked down, keeping my face hidden, in case I had a telltale sign I was faking. I stared at the rug, felt its squishy softness beneath my feet and did not speak to my father, who walked beside me. That seemed easier than facing him.

I knew he wanted to talk to me. No one needs to walk a 23-year-old to her bedroom. So, what he needed was to talk. But I was afraid he’d take one look at me and realize what I was planning. Even if I had been as good as pretending as the rug, he was the equivalent of an expert in Persian rugs. He’d be hard to fool no matter how good at acting the part I was.
Last edited by rightergirl on July 19th, 2010, 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Emily White » June 10th, 2010, 3:06 pm

Genre: YA Science Fiction

I never should have listened to the voice in my head. No halfway intelligent person would have gotten themselves lost in the middle of a pitch black prison ship for, oh, a few hours. I had creeped and crawled through at least a dozen different levels and corridors and found nothing. Not even an unlocked door, let alone a hatch to a transport vessel. Getting off an interstellar ship was not going to be easy.

Of course, none of this had crossed my mind before I left my cell.

Enough complaining, Ella. You need to find a way out of here. No, that wasn’t the voice; that was me. I talked to myself a lot.

I took a deep breath and another step forward with my hands placed firmly against the wall. The ship was dark—like it had been ten years since I’d seen a single ray of light dark—and I wasn’t about to get lost in one of the hallways without a wall to anchor me…again. Like I said, I’d been at this for hours and I wasn’t exactly the escaping type.

Actually, no one on this ship was the escaping type. Usually anyone who walked the corridors was the dead type. I’d been lucky so far; the hounds hadn’t found me yet.
Last edited by Emily White on October 12th, 2010, 7:02 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Find out about ELEMENTAL, my YA Space Opera (available June 21, 2011) on my blog and ELEMENTAL's facebook fan page

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

Post by MCR » June 10th, 2010, 3:43 pm

Title: Wrack Line
Genre: YA Paranormal
Words: 250

A glass crashes against a wall. The girls in front of me twist, their mouths hanging open. The band falters and then plays on. I turn too, searching for Cassie and the others, but there’s no sign of them. They must still be on the beach. A chill runs across my neck. The Ship’s a run-down place at the bad end of the promenade with stained carpets and air thick with fry-ups. If mum knew I was here, she’d kill me.

I shift my feet in my shoes, trying to concentrate on the band. The lead singer is about my age, seventeen, tall, blonde, with deepset eyes in a serious face. He’s belting out an archaic folk tune, his low voice swooping through the notes as he taps his hand against his thigh. Two girls accompany him, one strumming the guitar, the other on the violin. Their clothes are unusual - long skirts, vests and scarves, gloves, but they can play. I can hardly see their fingers on the strings.

“Bag of shite,” someone shouts. A packet of crisps flies from the side and hits the singer's face. He stops, blinks and starts to sing again, adjusting his scarf with one hand.

More insults follow, yet the music doesn’t break. Not until a bottle sails overhead and smacks an older women with bleached hair and dark roots on the head. She swivels, eyes dark with anger, yells. That’s when the tune grinds to a halt and the crowd kicks off.

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

Post by WhyNotAuthor » June 10th, 2010, 3:44 pm

Title: I Want Him For His Brains
Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy

Waking up on the mortician’s slab may seem like a shitty way to start your morning, but, it can always get worse. Trust me. I speak from experience.
“The deceased is a white female, age thirty. She is sixty-seven inches in height and weighs in at 155 pounds. Subject has brown, curly hair to the shoulders and brown eyes. No distinguishing scars, birthmarks or tattoos.”
If you’re looking for insight on the Great Beyond, I’ve got nothing to offer you. I don’t remember dying. No white lights or tunnels, or anything like that. For me, death was no different than any other day; red wine, missionary sex and blessedly dreamless sleep. When I woke up, cold and paralyzed, I stared up from a dissection table while some asshole droned into a handheld tape recorder and poked at me with pudgy, latex-covered fingers.
“No bruising or physical trauma to suggest foul play. Cause of death is unknown at this time, but toxicology and internal examination of the body may reveal more.”
He moved out of my field of vision, then, and though I tried to follow him with my eyes, all I could see was the bright light over my head. I couldn’t squint to lessen the glare, couldn’t even blink. It seemed my whole body lay beneath a leaden, icy weight, hindering the flow of messages from my brain to my limbs. My toes wouldn’t wiggle, my fingers refused to twitch. I lay there utterly motionless save for the thoughts in my head, swirling in an ever-faster pool of panic.
A dream, I thought. I watch too many crime dramas and drink too much wine. That’s what’s going on. It’s all a wild, twisted dream. Just wake up.

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

Post by Thermocline » June 10th, 2010, 4:23 pm

TITLE: A Scorpion's Nature

The counselor dancing under the rickety welcome sign was packed full of crazy.

Neon streamers from her glittery tiara rippled as she thrashed around to the concert in her head and belted a song Ryan didn't recognize. Bashing the drums turned into karate chops for some reason. She tried a kick, and launched her sandal into the tall grass.

Ryan almost asked his mom to throw the car into reverse instead of stopping beside the girl. Clearing his criminal record might not be worth a week at summer camp with nut jobs like this.

She grabbed her sandal and zipped up to his window. The bright ribbons fluttered out behind her. "Hi. My name is Button."

Okay. She just got weirder. Ryan decided to play along. "Because you push people's buttons?"

"Could be." Button let out a throaty giggle. "Are you excited to be here?"

I'd rather chop wood with my spleen. He shrugged. "I guess."

"You guess?" Button scrunched down to his eye level and whispered. "Do you have any clue how excited I am?"

Ryan looked at his mom, wondering how he should respond, and whether she suspected the chick was insane.

His mom tilted her head to the side and ran a finger under her necklace.

He took the gesture as uncertainty on both counts. Ryan turned to Button. "No."

Button squealed and leapt into the air. She twirled in circles, limbs and ribbons flailing, until her feet tangled and she crashed to the ground.
Last edited by Thermocline on April 15th, 2011, 5:01 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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

Post by otherside89girl » June 10th, 2010, 5:03 pm

Genre: Contemporary YA

As soon as I walk through this door, I will officially be a high school student, I thought. Finally.
I stood outside the door of my first class, even though it was cold and drizzling. This was typical first day of school weather for Seattle – or in my case, Dumont, a little suburb most people haven’t heard of. I peered nervously through the tiny window in the door, my breath appearing in puffs in front of my face. Why didn’t anyone else look like a freshman?

I thought about scanning the room for potential friends before choosing a seat, but as soon as I opened the door I was overwhelmed by fluorescent lights and a heating vent blowing into my face. I looked up to see a classroom full of older students, seated around plastic tables, staring at me. I collapsed into the chair closest to the door, dropping my backpack with a loud whump.

“Last but not least,” the teacher said, pausing to peer at his clipboard. “You must be Ronnie, our freshman.”

“Oh, um, yeah. That’s me.”

What exactly did he mean by “our freshman”?

“You must already know a lot about photography to be in my advanced class,” Mr. Mildy continued.

There was a general rustle as more people turned to look at me.

“No, actually, I meant to sign up for freshman photography…” I could feel my face burning.

How had I registered for the wrong class? I had barely started high school and I was already making mistakes.

“Ah, the digital photography class,” he said, rubbing his bald head. “Well, you’ve gotten yourself into a real photography class. Congratulations.”
And he handed me a syllabus.

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

Post by lkblackburne » June 10th, 2010, 5:37 pm

Title: Midnight Thief
Genre: YA Fantasy

Maybe this James fellow wanted her dead. Kyra considered this as she peered off a ledge, squinting at the cobblestone four stories below. A false step in the darkness could kill her; even if she survived the fall, palace guards would finish her off. But she’d known the job was dangerous when she took it. At this point, she just needed to keep moving.

The jump ahead was about two body-lengths long, so Kyra backed up. Ten steps, then she drew a breath and sprinted forward. She pushed off just before the drop, clearing a gap of three strides before softening her body for the landing. There was a slap of leather on stone as she hit the next ledge. The impact sent a wave of vibrations through the balls of her feet, and Kyra touched a hand to the wall for balance.

Too hard, and too loud.

Silently cursing her clumsiness, Kyra scanned the grounds, looking for anyone who might have heard her. If she squinted, she could make out faint outlines of buildings around her -- some as high as her ledge, some even taller. The torch-lined pathways below were easier to see, but the firelight reflected off the ground in strange ways, casting shadows that played tricks with her vision. Since she couldn't trust her eyes, she listened. Other than the wind blowing across her ears, the night was silent. Kyra relaxed. Tucking away a stray lock of hair, she set off, dashing deeper into the compound.
Last edited by lkblackburne on April 15th, 2011, 1:58 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by L.M. Pruitt » June 10th, 2010, 6:34 pm

Title--Shades of Gray: A Jude Magdalyn Novel
Genre--Urban Fantasy

The moment I sat at the head of the table and took a good, long look at the three people making up this private party, I knew that taking this particular job had been a mistake. They all looked like nice, normal, sane people. I’d learned many years ago that when people look that normal, they usually aren’t. Not by a long shot.

My employer for the evening, Mrs. “Just Call Me Bee” Talanger, clapped her hands together like a little girl, if one could imagine a little girl in the overly surgically enhanced body of a fifty some odd year old woman, and twittered excitedly. Maybe it was the twitter, or the overly perfumed room, or the look of hungry anticipation, but the feeling that I really shouldn’t be here at this exact moment only got stronger. I started to stand up, and the woman on my right raised one impossibly groomed eyebrow.

“Sister Henries, don’t tell us you plan to leave already? Bee had assured us that you’d be able to have a vision, answer some questions for us.” She shivered, as if the thought was both frightening and delicious. The look in her eyes, though--that was the look that I’d learned at a ridiculously tender age that meant they would find it delicious if you were frightened.

In answer, I arched my left eyebrow, making the tiny pinprick mole on the outside corner wink up. A handy, and often impressive, trick.

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

Post by Hillsy » June 10th, 2010, 7:16 pm

Title: Of Shadows and Angels
Genre: Science Fiction

Layne sat on his bed, datapad in one hand and head in the other, unable to decide which message to open first. One from the Garrison, one from Tania: neither promised good news. In the end he couldn’t face them, not yet, and let the datapad slip from his fingers to the floor. His head ached; his back felt knotted from another fruitless nights spent contorted on a bed three inches too short. Tough grains of sleep dug into his tear ducts. Insomnia was killing him - one torturous morning at a time.

Layne. Shyla’s voice was a cool breeze in his mind, but her honeyed tone couldn’t sweeten his mood. He clutched his head in both hands, trying to crush his listless thoughts into some kind of order. His elbows dug into his thighs.

You need to get up. She said.

“I need to sleep before I can do that.” He snapped.

You had three hours. Shyla said, unflustered. That’s an improvement. Layne snorted.

“Lucky me.” Shyla didn’t say anything. “You’re in my head – can’t you do anything about it?”

I could sing you a lullaby.

“Euthanasia? A bit extreme, isn’t it?” She laughed and Layne finally found the energy to scrub his face with both hands and look up.

Shyla stood in the far corner of his tiny bedroom, hands clasped at her thin waist. In the murk she glowed a soft blue, like all Phantoms; a vision moulded from light, faint tides ebbing and flowing through her.
Last edited by Hillsy on July 20th, 2010, 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Michelle4Laughs » June 10th, 2010, 8:05 pm

Title: Heartsouls
Genre: Epic fantasy
249 Words

She ran and panic choked her. The streets were so dark. Not like her home compound in the center of the city with lights on every corner. Here everything was washed to black and lit only by a faint moon glow. The stone walls of the buildings loomed overhead. The narrow streets were rough and dirty, stinking of garbage, and leading her astray.

As she ran, words repeated endlessly through her mind. With every fresh step the words dug themselves deeper. They’re dead. They’re dead. They’re dead. She could not make them stop. Gasping, she dodged and turned looking for the easiest path, desperate to get away.

They’re dead. They’re dead. The words spurred her to run faster. A rough corner caught her shoulder spinning her off balance. Flailing, she brought her hands up just in time to avoid running, face first, into a dark wall.

Except for her sobbing, the city was silent. Not even a stray dog haunted the streets. Where were all the people? Supposedly, hundreds of Silvers lived in the city outside the compound. Had everyone vanished? And still, with each pulse of her heart, the words repeated. Her brain raced, even though her feet stood still.

Desperately, she tried to push down the panic and slow her breathing as she clung to the wall. She should decide a path, running heedlessly was foolish. But all the buildings mocked her with their sameness. The empty shuttered windows and lack of greenery made them look neglected.

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

Post by denizb33 » June 10th, 2010, 9:40 pm

Okay, here's the beta version of my first page. Still needs a bit of tweaking... The story is set in Spain, 1492 - at least, that's where it starts!

Thanks for hosting this Nathan!

Rose stomped up the stairs and, out of habit, grazed her fingers across the mezuzah, even as she slammed the door open. She was so angry she was crying, but as quickly as the tears came she dashed them off her cheeks with the back of her hand. Her mother and Jacob needn’t think she was upset; she was furious. She tossed her book bag on the stairs – see if she shared any of her notes with Sister Natalia again – and clomped through to the kitchen.
“Mama! Wait until you hear what –”
But the kitchen was empty. No pot over the hearthfire, no mixing bowl on the table. Jacob’s wooden blocks were scattered on the floor under his chair.
“Mama? Where are you?” Suppressing her anger, and no longer crying, Rose ran up the stairs, leaping over her bag, through the bedrooms, back downstairs and finally out to the garden. She glanced over the hedges to the houses on either side. Tuesday was ironing day, yet the sheets still billowed on the [Rubina]s’ line and Rachel’s [pinafores] hadn’t been taken down off the [Blume]s’.
“Where is everyone?” She asked out loud. A [finch] twittered above her head and hopped onto a higher branch of the orange tree.
Had they somehow discovered that the Headmistress had [fired] her, and gone to protest? Mama would defend her, she knew, and besides, the family needed her wages. Father had been having trouble –
Papa. Maybe something had happened to him at the warehouse?
A chirp came from near the ground, and she looked down to see her gato coming across the grass.
“I don’t suppose you know where they went,” she murmured, stroking his soft head. [Kedi] chirped again and stepped away from her, toward the gate, his tail high in the air.
“Do you really? You’re better than a hunting dog, gato!”
She tugged her woollen shawl off its hook in the kitchen – it was the first of May but the breeze that raised the washing on the clotheslines was bitter – and set off after the cat. He led her toward the avenue that led down to the market square. She might be stopped and questioned for leaving the [Jewish] quarter, but she had to find out what was going on.

The streets were deserted. She caught Granny [X] peering furtively from behind her bedroom curtain and waved at her, receiving only a twitching curtain, closed, in reply. At least some things were still normal, even if the quietness of the streets was beginning to give her a strange thrill of anticipation. It couldn’t be good news that had emptied the neighbourhood.
Nearer the square she heard a distant rumble and, rounding the corner past the [baker’s] she ground to a halt, one hand instinctively reaching to pull her [shawl] over her head. It looked like the entire town of Palos had gathered in the square before the cathedral and town hall. The rumbling, which was the crowd muttering and shifting, stamping their feet and quietening their children, stopped instantly at the ringing of the bells of the [angelus].
Rose took the opportunity to squeeze past the edges of the crowd. Everyone was silent and still. She caught sight of a baby, his mother’s hand covering his mouth, his eyes bulging with the effort of the scream she had silenced. It was as though time stood still and only she was able to move forward. She caught sight of her mother’s [red] kerchief and eased gratefully between two strange girls, to sidle up next to her. Kedi had disappeared.
Her mother didn’t speak and didn’t act surprised to see her; merely passed an arm about her shoulders and nodded toward the town hall.
A stranger stood on the steps of the building dressed in the [red and gold] of a [royal messenger]. The bells stopped ringing and, as the echoes died away, the man held out his hand. A [page] stepped forward and passed him a roll of [parchment].
The man coughed once, unrolled the scroll and, without looking up, began reading. "[The Edict of Expulsion]."

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

Post by Eric C » June 10th, 2010, 9:50 pm


Gothic historical thriller

Chapter 1

I, Miles Trenowyth, write down this record at the goading of Dr. Horace James, practitioner in the newfangled black art of psychotherapy. Robbed by an injury of my ability to speak—at least at this time—I am unable to partake in the so-called Freudian talking cure. Thus I am induced to vomit my soul across these pages, to recall and recount in detail that which I would smoke an opium pipe to forget—Nay, every pipe in Chinatown!—given the chance.

I insist, as the price of my cooperation, that this account of my night in the Langley mansion on December the 11th, 1919, never be copied by the hand of a scrivener, although the original manuscript may be shared with Detective Brian McDonough of the New York City Police Department to help bring his investigation to a close and spare me further official visits.

I demand, moreover, that this document be destroyed upon the conclusion of my treatment in a cleansing conflagration. I am to burn it myself on the day of my discharge from this cursed asylum, when entrusted again with the simple pleasure of striking my own match.

* * *

I first set eyes upon the Langley abode in the year 1899, or possibly 1900, well before Harlem’s sidewalks grew Negroid, when blue-blooded Knickerbockers still bowed and curtsied their way along 125th Street. A whisker-less youth was I then, mingling amongst the yet-living and the now-dead...

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

Post by February » June 10th, 2010, 10:22 pm

Genre: Chick Lit

Chapter One

The Wedding Guest

“I can’t believe you parked on the lawn.”

“They said we should park on the lawn.”

“You still shouldn’t have done it.”

“I was only doing what the valet instructed.”

“Apparently he’s as clueless as you are.”

Adam threw the car into park and turned to his wife. “Do you want me to go back and do it again, Hill?”

“Why should you? You’ll only do it wrong a second time.”

Adam sighed. “You can move the car if you want.” Even as he held the keys out toward her, he knew she wouldn’t take them.

She didn’t like the way he did things. Anything. But that didn’t mean that she could be bothered to do it herself the way she thought he ought to have done it in the first place.

She ignored the gesture and pulled down the flap above her, exposing the mirror. She squinted at her reflection as she withdrew a dark eyeliner pencil from her purse and began reapplying the make-up even though she was wearing several layers of the stuff already.

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

Post by moosebabble » June 11th, 2010, 12:05 am

Title: The Eichman Project
Genre: Satire (Is this an actual genre?)

Haliburt College was routinely ranked in the bottom ten of all college ratings guides. There was a good reason for this. The college was not created to provide a top rate education. It had been formed in the 1930s as a tax shelter by a moderately successful mobster named Leroy “Snaps” McDonald from San Francisco. Snaps named the school after a semi literate tobacconist around the corner from his home, because Edmund Haliburt was more sophisticated sounding than anything Snaps could come up with on his own. It didn’t matter that the school’s namesake could barely read the newspaper and spent most of his time in the basement smoking opium, the name gave the school class.

Snaps figured he’d put his henchman on payroll and keep out from under the watchful eye of the IRS by claiming his illicit mobster income as tuition fees. The IRS did come a calling, but to Snaps great surprise, they weren’t there to collect. Turns out Uncle Sam wanted to make sure the school was taking full advantage of the government’s generous tax breaks and cash handouts when it came to developing the minds of the country’s future tax payers.

It never occurred to Snaps that he would have to teach classes. Since he didn’t advertise or solicit students, he never planned on what to do if one applied. Once he started collecting government money though, high school guidance counselors started sending kids his way. In order to dissuade potential students, Snaps set the tuition rate at an astronomical level. This just made the school sound exclusive and drummed up additional interest.

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

Post by GeeGee55 » June 11th, 2010, 12:08 am

Genre: Literary

Sorry the formatting is funky!

The Kelman baby died at eleven months, early in the strange, hot spring of 1938. His young parents lived in a one-room cabin in the Allanville District in the north of Saskatchewan. It was a land full of moisture--the earth rebounding like a sponge beneath the feet of the farmers who worked it--full of lakes, rivers and brooks, full of trees, birch, poplar, both black and white, pussy willows and jack pine. All through the 30’s, when the unrelenting wind blew tens of thousands of farmers off land that was vanishing into the sky, the north remained green. Until 1937. Then even the parklands dried up.

The way Rebecca Kelman dried up when her son died.

Little Thomas Kelman was buried in a meadow on a hill behind the cabin. The nearest telephone was five miles down a rutted road, at Dunlop’s, and the nearest town, Sylvania, was fifteen miles further on. After Thomas died, Gus had ridden his horse to the Dunlop place and spoken into the fluted mouthpiece please, please come. Reverend Finlay came, plodding along on a draft horse someone had loaned him, over the twenty miles that had been sliced through the trees with a bushcutter, his black jacket powdered with dust by the time he arrived.

There was a woodpile behind the cabin. After Reverend Finlay left and Rebecca was lying on their bed in her tattered rayon slip, Gus, sitting beside her, stroking her hair, said, “I’m going to chop some wood.”


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