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 mcthomas3152 » July 8th, 2010, 7:35 pm

Title: Monstermorphosis
Genre: YA Fantasy
(250) Word count

I knew I was dying. It’s weird the doctor felt the need to explain that to me. I hear him outside my bedroom talking to my mother, encouraging her to move me to a hospice. My mother is refusing. I can picture her flailing her arms and insisting I stay with the family 'during this difficult time'. Truth is, I’ve never really lived. I look around my bedroom and where most teens would have a stereo, I have a monitor for all the little gizmos attached to my body. No cool friendship beads or Hawaiian leis decorate the posts of my bed, just two IV drips with drug cocktails potent enough to subdue a lumberjack. Of course it's the drugs that make the disease bearable; not completely free from pain but the numbness helps. I hear my mother at the door again. She sneaks in silently, just in case I’m sleep, which I’m not.

“You’re still awake, Missy?” she whispers.

“Yes, Mom, I’m not really tired right now.” Truth is I’m always tired and I sleep most of the day. I just like looking out the window when the sun is bright and the clouds are scarce. I like seeing the birds perch on the feeder hanging from my window. They are my entertainment, and currently there is a rose finch noshing my seeds. I can’t sleep through this.

“Do you need anything, sweetheart?” she adds.

“No, I’m fine. I know you have things to do, don’t worry about me.”

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Posts: 33
Joined: March 14th, 2010, 9:40 am
Location: Florida

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

Post by slavandria » July 9th, 2010, 10:14 am

Title: In the Shadow of the Dragon King
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 249

David Heiland pushed through the balcony doors just as four F-22 Raptors screamed overhead and disappeared over the Tennessee Mountains.

“Yes!” he said, punching the early morning air. “That’s freaking awesome!”

He ran back inside, slamming the French doors to the cold and wind, and plucked up the picture of his father sitting in the cockpit of an F-16 from the nightstand. “Ah, Dad, I wish you could have seen them,” he said, slumping on the edge of his bed. “It sucks you can’t be at the airshow with me next weekend.” His thumb brushed over the photograph before he returned it to the nightstand and made a beeline for the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, he emerged showered and dressed, his short, dark hair an uncombed mess. A quick glance at his cell phone revealed a missed midnight text message from his best friend, Charlotte. It simply read:

Hey, Firefox, chk ur e-mail. Found a pic from my 5th b-day party that will make U laugh!

Intrigued, David opened his laptop and within minutes brought up a photograph dated ten years earlier. Charlotte stood sopping wet in the foreground, her fists clenched at her sides. Martin Sanderman lay at her feet, his hand to his cheek, sobbing. The third person in the picture – himself at five years and one day – stood in the background, his mouth twisted in a grin. David chuckled and typed:

OMG, talk about an April Fools Day gone bad for Martin! Geez, what an idiot.
Last edited by slavandria on January 2nd, 2011, 11:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Joined: July 10th, 2010, 4:41 pm

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

Post by hoshizoraaona » July 10th, 2010, 4:47 pm

Title: Gestalt
Genre: YA/Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 258

The fates seem to enjoy screwing people every way they can. That was never truer for me than that dreadful Thursday afternoon. As I stood on the curb, hands firmly knitted into my hair in both shock and awe, the driver from the opposing Chevy shouldered his door open with a creaking thunk and stumbled out onto the street. He took a moment to check his head for any trickles of blood in his dirty blonde hair and on his scruffy face before he regarded me. The corner of my mouth twitched, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.
“That’s it. I’m cursed,” I whimpered.
“You hurt?” he asked. It was the question that was expected, but I couldn’t say anything. My brand new, fully paid for, fresh-from-the-dealership Mazda RX-8 was now a brand new, fully paid for, fully functional boat anchor. For three summers and winters I worked to earn the cash for it. A barista at the coffee shop on the corner in the mornings, waitressing for Al’s Diner in the afternoon followed with farmhand work on my best friend’s ranch. I learned to drive a stick for this car out on that very ranch! I couldn’t breathe let alone speak and while I am certain I looked like a complete idiot standing on the sidewalk with my mouth agape and my fingernails thoroughly plastered to my scalp, I could find no manner of method to properly establish to this man of his late twenties in just how many ways I wanted to end his life.

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Joined: July 11th, 2010, 6:14 am

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

Post by VickyE » July 11th, 2010, 6:22 am

Title: The Black Crown
Genre: Fantasy Romance

Sioneh of Rhyged returned to Camelot with three things she didn’t want. The first was her brother Domnall’s armor. The second was a secret peace treaty that would prevent a Saxon invasion, but turn her into a traitor if anyone learned of it. The lie she planned to tell instead would make a hero of Domnall, and that was the third and – he had tried to kill her – the one she deplored.
The usual crowd who stopped to gawk at a woman in armor crammed High Street’s narrow way, still unused to the knights from Rhyged, who clung to the old ways where women fought alongside men. It would have been faster to walk up the hill, but not with the High King’s son at her side and a troop of knights at her rear.
They reined back their mounts, careful not to jostle three well-gowned ladies and their attendants craning their necks to peer inside a shop. The shortest of the women glanced at Sioneh, raised her black eyebrows, and whispered to a nearby page. The boy ran off, dodging carts, shoppers and merchants.
As she passed, Sioneh nodded to the black-haired noblewoman. Lady Alis’s chin dipped gracefully back, but there was no welcome in her eyes. Sioneh’s stomach knotted. Thanks to Alis, Queen Guenevere would know they had returned before they reached the keep. Worry mopped the moisture out of Sioneh’s mouth.

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Joined: July 11th, 2010, 2:52 pm

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

Post by carpshaw26 » July 11th, 2010, 2:56 pm

Title: You Dead Dallas
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

The stolen scrubs itched and the pants were too big. She strode down the hall as confidently as she could and kept one hand at her waistline. She looked over her shoulder as she turned down Jeremiah’s hall. She had seen no one. It wasn’t a surprise. She had spent weeks learning rotations of the security and nursing staffs. It was also three o’clock in the morning. She still harbored the fear of being seen in her half baked disguise. Any of the nurses or security would know who she was as soon as they laid eyes on her.

She reached Jeremiah’s door and peeked over her should once more. She opened the door and slid inside. The light was on at his bedside table. She couldn’t help but smile. Poor Jeremiah was afraid of the dark. He was asleep, sitting upright propped into the corner. Liana approached her friend and sat quietly on beside him on the bed. She looked at his peaceful face and watched as his eyes darted beneath their eyelids. Finally he was normal in sleep.

Liana shook him gently. Jeremiah woke and moved his head towards her, his eyes moved aimlessly and unfocused.

“It is time right?” Liana asked as she touched his cheek. She waited and watched his eyes wander from side to side and then for an instant they locked cold on hers. She jolted back surprised. It was the answer she was expecting but it did not startle her any less.

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Joined: July 12th, 2010, 4:23 am

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

Post by Prince » July 12th, 2010, 7:16 am

Title: Playing The Game of Raws
Genre: YA Comtemporary Thriller
Word count: 245

Henry Raw

I began flirting in grade six. My last name comes with a reputation I am expected to live up to and the mandate to bag one hundred girls before completing college to become a family legend. And as a Raw, everything else came next to becoming a prodigy.

In my sophomore year in boarding school at Huni Valley High, sixteen years old but tall for my age, I had bonked nearly thirty girls. Not that I was the best-looking boy on campus. I just had the psycho-ability, persistency, popularity, and Playbook of Raws–a notebook which contained tales of those who lived up to the family’s legacy and reached the goal.

Also in Huni Valley high, there was a goal to reach. Someone, in every leaving batch, had to compete as the student who was most remembered in the yearbook. That ensured a legendary status. Always the story of the most recalcitrant boy won. And always, the self-proclaimed campus most beautiful girl had to be in the centre of it to top the others.

Thursday, 7:00p.m., dark everywhere but very dark and remote on Oak Lane because it had no streetlights, the night more humid and breezy, it could rain any moment from now. Rex, Ron and I had scaled the walls of our hall of residence, Afadu Wardbury, to sneak out. We waited till there were no lights in the dormitory to be sure everyone was off to prep and the house locked up.
Last edited by Prince on October 4th, 2010, 7:13 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Joined: June 2nd, 2010, 10:33 am

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

Post by EMC » July 12th, 2010, 8:37 am

Title: The Flutter of Paper
Genre: Literary Fiction (?)/Women's Fiction
Word Count: 250 Words

I can’t recall the exact moment I realized I didn’t know who I was. It dawned on me slowly. I battled it for a few minutes, before realizing that I had no idea what my own name was, what age I was, where I was from. My memory was almost completely blank. What surprised me most was how long it took me to realize.
I woke up in a park. The sun was streaming down on me, and I squinted as I opened my eyes. I raised a hand to shade myself from the glare, and looked around. The trees were in full bloom, the green leaves swaying gently above me. There were three children running around, their brightly coloured clothes flashing in the sun. The sound of their laughter reached my ears and I smiled at them. A dog ran between them, from one to the other, barking frantically. The smallest child was struggling to keep up in the game, and eventually toppled to the ground mid spin. She landed squarely on her butt, with a startled ‘oh’. She hesitated, wondering whether crying was the right response. Her brother and sister kept playing, the dog jumping between them, trying to catch them. She took a deep breath, tilting her head back for maximum effect.
I stood up quickly and walked over to her. “Hey, hey,” I said, “It’s OK. You’re not hurt are you?”
She stopped mid-inhale. She eyed me. I remembered that of course it was verboten to speak to strangers.

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Joined: July 12th, 2010, 9:17 am

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

Post by Traciinaz » July 12th, 2010, 9:30 am

Title: Beyond The Veil
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 246

Reaghan stormed out of her boss’s office, slamming the door behind her. His secretary, Mary, jumped at the sound and looked up but quickly glanced away again once seeing Reaghan’s face. She’d never been so angry. How dare he! She’d spent the last two years kissing his ass and working double overtime in hopes of getting promoted and this is how he repaid her?

She was still fuming when she entered the carriers’ room. Comfort had not been of the highest priority when management furnished their “lounge”. Its layout was identical to a gym’s locker room, from the rows of lockers lined up in the middle of the carpetless room to the individual showers located on the far south side, where the only privacy came from white opaque plastic curtains hanging from each shower stall. Reaghan stalked to her assigned locker and began throwing her belongings into her pack. Her friend Suzie was doing the same thing four lockers down.

“Did he lay you off too?” Reaghan asked.

Suzie looked over at her and nodded. Black lines streaked down her face where her mascara had run. “He said that business was slowing down and he had to make some cuts.”

“Business is slowing, my ass,” Reaghan scoffed. “I don’t know about you but I’ve been working double shifts trying to keep up with all the deliveries.”

Suzie nodded in agreement. She opened her mouth to reply but stopped when a small group stormed into the locker room.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 9:29 am

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

Post by Rollid » July 12th, 2010, 9:38 am

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 250

Mrs. Wick thought it was smart not to call the police when my mother vanished. She told me so not three days after it happened, cornering me in the frozen food section of the grocery store where I used to wander in the summers when it was too hot to be in our poorly air-conditioned house and I had nowhere else to go.

“Your poor family. Should just put it behind you.” She smacked her lips together like a cow chewing on grass. “She was a wild one, your mother.”

Wild. Mrs. Wick wasn’t the only one who thought that. I heard women whispering at church, at the bank—women with loose skin and tired, watery eyes, like Mrs. Wick. They looked at my mom and saw only the empty shot glasses at the bar and the skin between the top of her jeans and the bottom of her shirt. The ten year old girl who didn't know where her father was.

Gretchen Dexter was wild.

But there were things they didn’t understand about her, or about my family. There were things the police wouldn’t write down in their notepads. That the woods called to my mother. That she drank to keep the demons from following her into her dreams, like they followed her when she was awake. You can’t tell the police things like that—they wouldn’t listen. If they did, though, if they changed their minds and decided to believe, this is the story I would have told.

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Joined: July 12th, 2010, 1:22 pm

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

Post by heidinorrod » July 12th, 2010, 1:24 pm

Genre: Young Adult Suspense/Mystery

Title: The Case of the Old Hotel

Word Count: 258

It wasn’t my fault! I had nothing to do with the death of my father, Rick Peppers. He had been killed in the line of duty as a homicide detective in Nashville. A case he had been closing in on, gone bad. It went terribly bad when the suspect he was closing in on decided not to go down quietly.

Not that it mattered anymore, because my mother, Alice and my eight year old little brother, Chris, had voted against me. So we moved back to the little town of Crayhill, Tennessee where Mom and Dad had grown up eons ago. It was labeled to be a ‘fresh start’ for us. It took me three weeks to decide that maybe this town, whose name sounded like a furniture brand, wasn’t so bad.

It still astounds me as to how a town a fifth the size of Nashville could not seem so bad. But, it didn’t, not by a long shot. A big part of the thanks went to our next door neighbor, Travis Burdette and his mother, Ruth. After all, Ruth helped Mom get her old job at the bank while she moved on to an accountant’s office. Travis in the meantime showed me the town.

He had a dentist appointment the day I forever changed my life, and ventured down the now infamous Spruce Lane. I walked steadily down the decrepit street. Every house I passed seemed to be in various states of disrepair, and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to live down this street.

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Joined: July 12th, 2010, 2:07 pm

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

Post by hurdygurdy » July 12th, 2010, 2:17 pm

Title: A Fragile Thread
Genre: Paranormal/Gothic Romance
Word Count: 254

“Anna, don’t stand up yet. Those horses are skittery.”

Skittery, jittery, twittery, like me. I was frantically attempting to disentangle my boot from a ripped braid of fabric that threatened to disassemble me before I could free myself so thick was the tangle; and it looked like I would need to travel the last leg of my journey bootless. New brides don’t travel bootless, no matter how much I wanted to run free from this cumbersome coach that had me pinned inside for days.

Leve had somehow escaped the ravel that held me prisoner and stood outside safe on the ground, watching me. Warning me. “Say, Mr. Shaw,” my husband called to the driver. “Are your Bretons normally so skittish?”

“Nah,” the man called back. “Just here in the Valley. They get a bit stompy before the winds come. ‘T’s how I know they’re comin’. ‘T’s why I charged you dou....” The driver’s voice caught a quick breeze and blew the rest of his words away. The frame of the coach squeaked and groaned in the sudden gusts, rocking slightly forward on its wooden haunches only to settle back down before I stood, finally freed from the gordian knot of the torn upholstery.

“ that,” the driver concluded. “Cursed winds come ‘n’ go quicker than Ben Baynac vanishing into thin air.”

“This isn’t the highlands, Mr. Shaw!” my husband retorted. “And I’ll thank you to keep your superstitions to yourself.” He muttered to himself, “Man’s rattling the wrong bag of bones. Vanishing ghosts indeed!”

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Joined: July 12th, 2010, 3:15 pm

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

Post by Hilary » July 12th, 2010, 3:23 pm

The During Time
Paranormal Romance

Emily Alden sat for a long time under the black tent, after the last car left the cemetery.

Her mother’s boss had arranged for everyone to come back to her place for a cold buffet lunch. She urged Emily to join them.

“Honey,” she said. “Won’t you come and stay with us for a while? I don’t like to think of you being alone –”


But she was alone now, and it had to be faced.

Emily thanked the woman – whose name she could not remember – and produced her story of a cousin who would be coming to stay that evening. She allowed herself to be hugged and consoled, and waited patiently until everyone was gone except the undertaker. She sat very still, avoiding his eye, until he disappeared behind the curtain of raindrops and the door of the maintenance office.

Rain pattered on the canvas overhead and pooled at her feet. Across town, rain was falling on another funeral, for the woman her father had killed.

Emily swallowed hard.

Her good, kind father would never have harmed that poor woman. He would never have killed his own wife. Not on purpose.

He would never have left Emily alone like this.

It was an accident.

Under the surface of her thoughts, the kaleidoscope twirled. It landed gently on the flowers around her parents’ graves, where it formed a pattern of light and shadow and color and form. The image lingered for a moment, imprinting gently behind her eyes before it drifted like smoke into the sky.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 3:21 pm

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

Post by lastowrd0524 » July 12th, 2010, 3:24 pm

Genre: Contemporary/Literary YA
246 words

The sun had the audacity to shine today, of all days. Did it not get the memo? Your service should not have been bright and shining. Thunderous black clouds should have rolled in, bringing with them a storm of biblical proportions. Mass flooding and destruction. That was a fitting scene for your funeral.

Not this clear, cloudless day.

Golden rays bounced off your casket, the metal gleaming in the warm sunlight, mocking me. Around me, people sniffled and sobbed. They mourned for you. Do you even care?
I knew that the crowd at the cemetery was much bigger than had been anticipated. Not just the entire student population, but the whole town had turned out for the event. I knew this without once taking my eyes off your coffin. I could feel their grief surrounding me, closing in on me…suffocating me.

Father Oberman spoke softly, eloquently about a life cut tragically short. What was so tragic here? I thought angrily. Your death hadn’t come after a long, wasting illness. You weren’t the victim of a fatal car accident. You weren’t bullied at school, which might have precipitated such drastic measures on your part. Your parents weren’t abusive alcoholics.

You weren’t broken.

The only tragedy here lay in the fact that you were supremely selfish. I never realized it until just then, but you are the most selfish person I’ve ever known. Only someone truly unfeeling would so callously take herself from those who loved her most.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 5:16 pm

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

Post by kellimarks » July 12th, 2010, 5:20 pm

Title: Falling Backward
Genre: Fiction

I look down, staring so intently at my black Calvin Klein pumps that I am sure I could burn a hole in them. My eyes flick towards the sky, a beautiful blue blares back at me and a soft breeze whips through my hair. Even the earth couldn’t be bothered to cry.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” My eyes rest on the coffin. It was simple and stained a light color. My brother picked it out. I couldn’t really muster the strength to participate in any of it. The preacher continues in the background, reading something I am sure Mike helped with. He was always good with those things. Taking care of the family. Funny, he is my younger brother. Things were good, or so they seemed. Until the divorce. But I guess that’s what happens to families.
It gets quiet, and I pause and look around, everyone is praying, heads bowed. At least there’s no one watching me to know that I’m not even paying attention. See, that’s awful. Maybe I’m just distracted. I close my eyes as tight as they can go, trying to muster a single tear. Anything, any sign of emotion that I might be the slightest bit upset. I come up empty handed. Same as yesterday, same as the day before. For someone who can cry at a sappy commercial, I can’t believe how heartless I am being right now. Even as the echoes of strangers’ voices ring in my ear, “Amen,” I can’t be bothered to cry.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 12th, 2010, 7:23 pm

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

Post by R.G.SENECHAL » July 12th, 2010, 7:37 pm

Title: Bring Your A Game, Bix.
Genre: YA Comedy Adventure
Words: 249

Darwin’s Theory: September 4

If another person tells me, “You’ll appreciate your youthful appearance when you’re forty,” I’m going to rip his friggin head off and whiz down his windpipe. Of course, at four-nine, I’ll have to get a ladder first.

It’s true. I have a youthful appearance and maybe when I’m sixty or seventy, I’ll appreciate it. But now, I’m sixteen and look like I’m twelve. Twelve, for Christ’s sake. Which means instead of trying to snag a beer, I can pass for a trick or treater. Yeah, that’s a winning tradeoff.

You want to hear another winner? Today is the first day of my junior year. Hang on, there’s more. Drum roll, please…at a new high school. I hope they have clean garbage cans because I’m sure I’ll end up head first in every one them by the end of the week.

My name is Bixby Darwin. Yeah, another real winner. I was named after the dude who played the Incredible Hulk. Oh, you’ve never heard of him? No surprise, nobody born after 1975 has. And just for the record, he wasn’t the guy who played the Incredible Hulk, but the geeky scientist who became the Hulk.

And the hits just keep on coming.

“Bix,” Mom calls. “You ready for school?”

I exit my blog and shut down my computer. No sense leaving any temptation for my mom to snoop. “Yeah, yeah.” I grab my backpack and head downstairs, sidestepping the moving boxes that litter the floor.


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