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

Post by SM Schmidt » June 9th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Title: Mirrored Oasis
Genre: YA/SciFi

I can remember perfectly the noise gravel crunching underfoot makes. A band of soldiers marching in unison, off to fight in battles of titanic forces cashing against one other until a bloody victor arises. The jingle of many prisoners’ chains, captured by the terrible Wizard of the Mountain, sent to toil away their lives in the mines. Sailors calloused feet jumping down on to a new beach of undiscovered shores.

In reality, the field hands who traveled along the gravel path beside the cottage could not help echoing their iconic steps through my window. They never knew I pretended a great many things far beyond my lonely world with their casual journeys. Away in my mind I could be everywhere, anywhere, far from suffocating home. Beyond the border of the village was a world only the lesser were allowed to explore: the dairy maid seeking the next village to find herself a good marriage, the miller’s apprentice bargaining for supplies, travelers on their way to the grand fair for a glimpse of the Senator as she heard the woes of the district populace.

I, Delphi Parthenia, was forbidden but for dreams of how the rest of the world existed beyond the village of Feywoode, in boring du Ponni district. My pitiful collection of novels and school books, my only friends really, offered but teasing windows into interesting lives.
The Blog

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

Post by MarkLFriedlander » June 9th, 2010, 3:32 pm

Title: Life's A Beach, Then You Die
Genre: Mystery

I noticed them the moment we arrived. She was a busty blonde bursting from a blue bikini and holding a lipstick stained cigarette. He looked like a handsome Irish football player grown older and puffy, a scotch glass a fixture in his hand. Besides Jack, the owner-bartender, they were the only ones there.

While we sat outside on barstools admiring the ocean, Jack brought my AmberBock draught and Mariel’s vodka tonic.

I said, “Thanks,” and when I lifted my chilled mug, condensation dripped onto my crotch. I decided to sit until it dried.

Jack wiped the wet spot on the counter and leaned forward on his hands. “Max, we’ve been waiting for you.”

“Who? Me?”

“Yeah, I know you come in about now, so I told them to wait.”

Mariel and I turned to each other and then to Jack. Sometimes, you couldn’t tell when he was kidding.

Jack AKA Jack Jr. worked at Bobbi and Jack’s Beachside Patio since childhood. He claims to have been born behind the bar here when his dad ran it and where allegedly, his pregnant mother, Bobbi, served drinks until and immediately after she dropped him. He sometimes told gullible customers his real name is Jack Daniel’s for the drink his Mom had on her tray at the time.

“Guys, I don’t want to impose.” Jack raised an eyebrow. “One of my lunch regulars needs a hand. Maybe you can help. Ed’s a local lawyer, I think he’s semi-retired.” Jack pointed down the bar to the man and the woman.

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

Post by TabithaRees » June 9th, 2010, 3:36 pm

Title: Nightmare Utopia, In Your Dreams
Genre: YA/Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 238

Any dream can become a nightmare. It takes one, wicked dream - such as mine - to become reality.

As I told the doctors, this dream was a creepy walk through some creepy forest that had this creepy manner about it. That usually had them conclude I’ve been reading too much Stephen King, again, and back to my room it was. Of course, by room, I meant excess fluorescents; flowery wallpaper; barred windows; and on Fridays, irritating Muzak.

According to the brochure for Vanadaine Institute of Psychology and Semi-Permanent Healing, these details were designed for "encouragement and positive atmosphere to aid mentally ill patients between the ages of thirteen and seventeen".

According to me, these details were designed to observe how effortlessly doctors could damage the minds of mentally ill patients between the ages of thirteen and seventeen.

However unwillingly, it was what I labeled home.

I suppose if I had been honest with my therapists about what sort of evilness haunted me at night, my life would’ve been different. I would not receive those quarterly photos from my family, smiling at whatever school event was happening. I would be in them, though probably with a frown as I tried to hide behind my parents.

But I could never be honest with them. Sure, psycho imaginations weren’t unheard ofin teenagers. Take my friend’s one of being eaten alive by llamas; he was still considered sane.

And I was not.

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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 3:39 pm

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

Post by JenS » June 9th, 2010, 3:42 pm

Title: Senior Year
Genre: YA Lit
Chapter 1

“I had the dream again,” Sarah gushed before first period. ‘You know, The Dream. The one where there are a million little Jareds running around the playground and I can’t keep up and I can’t breath and I can’t get control!”
“Oh, I am so shocked, Control Freak. You always have that dream when you are nervous about the unknown,” I laughed.
“What unknown? It’s just our senior year, the best and most important year of our lives so far. It is going to be absolutely fantastic!” Sarah’s squeal should have been enough to rile me up and carry me away in her wave of excitement. The problem? Nothing in the world could or—it seemed—ever would really make me feel happy or excited ever again. The events of the summer managed to destroy any happiness and excitement I felt at the end of our junior year. The twisted and unexplainable things that had turned my life upside down and inside out didn’t matter in these familiar halls—at least that is what I tried to tell myself as Sarah chattered on and on about plans for Homecoming and Senior Prank and classes and boys and even Prom.
“Whoa, there! Take a breath!” I grabbed Sarah by the shoulders and spun her to face me. “Let’s get through our first day before you start to plan the rest of the year!”

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

Post by abfenner » June 9th, 2010, 3:44 pm

Genre: Mannerpunk Fantasy
Title: Miss Floret and the Luministe: A Cautionary Tale

A proper lady would not have locked herself in the manor library with a corpse. A proper lady would have overlooked the desecration of her dead sister, placed the holy apple and oak branches in the casket, and closed the lid – if only for the sake of moving past this entire unpleasant drowning episode.

Miss Lyanne Floret – bastion of Floret female decorum – considered her obligations as she stared at the splayed angles of Rya’s newly-broken fingers. Clutching the holy oak and apple branches, Lyanne leaned over the coffin. The last two days she had marinated in lung-crushing grief; now, as she touched her younger sister’s cricked fingers, fury heated the grief to a boil.

With a squeal, Lyanne turned on her heel, her floor-length bombazine dress wisk-wisking with every step. She slammed the library door, wedged a chair under the knob, and shoved the tip of the fireplace poker in the keyhole for good measure.

Lyanne’s brothers, Marke and Natan, and her father, Gared, came half an hour before the scheduled burial. First Gared tried the doorknob. Muffled voices conferred in the corridor before he knocked and called her name, his words escalating from an empathetic rumble to a booming shout. Lyanne stood beside the coffin, stroking her younger sister’s swollen cheek.

“This is all Bralla’s fault,” she muttered, meticulously smoothing Rya’s brown hair, setting the creases of her dress as naturally as the coffin would allow, and lacing the black boots on her feet. “Of course Father sent in that woman the instant I stepped away. Look at the state she put you in! On my word, she’ll be given notice for what she’s done!”
Last edited by abfenner on October 29th, 2010, 6:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by cassandrabonmot » June 9th, 2010, 3:45 pm

Title: Jackpot

Genre: Comedy/Mystery/Crime

Word Count: 244

Jack Justice was driving a brown ’65 Ford Galaxy 500 like a giddy teenage girl running off with her lover. We drove out of D.C. and entered Bethesda. Surprisingly single, he was 5’11”, with chiseled hair and espresso-bean-colored eyes that, to my mind, were full-bodied and brewed to perfection. His deeply-etched lips beckoned to be kissed. His scent drew me in like a luscious bouquet. To summarize, Jack was every erotic novel I’d ever read, and yet I’d decided never to succumb to the temptation. After all, Jack was my boss.

It was Friday. Late. And, winter. Winters in that part of the country were bone-achingly cold. Rain tapped against the windshield. The blades squeaked. I was sandwiched uncomfortably in the back seat between two men: Eddie Gillette and Jon Brando. Eddie was a Boston nerd. His thick accent matched his glasses. Jon came from a wealthy senator’s family but you’d never suspect it. He wore a conservative tie, probably from someplace cheap like J.C. Penney’s. He also smelled of musk and too much of it. The pungent odor bordered on cruel.

Jack pushed an eight-track tape into the player. The “Theme from Shaft” came on. Geez, I thought. Everything about ‘two-button-dark-suit’ shouted boring.

“I like Willie Nelson,” I said. “Ya know, progressive country?” I smiled coquettishly, snapping my fingers in the air.

Jack glared through the rearview mirror. “You’d raise your IQ twenty-points if you’d lose that Texas accent, Candy Love,” he growled.

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

Post by beccajcampbell » June 9th, 2010, 3:47 pm

Title: Flawed, Book One: Empath
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Suspense
235 Words

Jade Edwards needed to escape. She had to regain control. The emotional chaos in the room overwhelmed her, crushed her. But how?

A wave of irritation hit her like a slap in the face. She scanned the classroom, searching for the source. Possibly that guy on the end of the third row, scowling and shaking his head at the professor.

Suddenly, a sense of excitement replaced the feeling. She glanced down her row and saw two girls talking in hushed tones while the instructor’s back was turned. Jade heard the phrase “vacation to the Bahamas” slip out while one of them nodded enthusiastically to her friend.

Without warning, a surge of intense attraction hit Jade, nearly knocking her out of her seat. Every guy in the room suddenly had the grace and looks of George Clooney. While trying to keep her composure, she searched for the culprit. Finally she found her. A girl on the back row was gazing, transfixed, at an oblivious male student two rows up, who seemed to be one of the few faithfully taking notes on the current topic: modern rationalism and the theories of Descartes.

Jade sighed. What was the point of searching for the source of the emotion? There wasn’t a way to control it. Would identifying the source bring her relief? No. It was only in her head. She sighed again. She had to get out of here.

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

Post by The other Eric » June 9th, 2010, 3:54 pm

Black Comedy/Horror
Chapter One

Grisly. Horrific. Baffling.
Those were the grave adjectives the nightly news anchors sprinkled throughout the top story of the eleven o’clock broadcast. The hype was appropriate for a change. Another bizarre murder had taken place. Carl Petnoy was oblivious to the late-breaking report, however, as he napped in his Barcalounger through the entire segment.
“Be safe,” the bottle-blonde live on the scene cautioned before sending it back to the studio.
“Good advice,” her hair-plugged male cohort behind the news desk agreed.
Twenty odd minutes later and the telecast was wrapping-up. In closing, the Channel Seven bobble heads briefly revisited the night’s top story, once more promising new details as the story developed. Then, like flipping a switch, they tossed aside their overly-rehearsed gravitas in exchange for a final bit of chirpy banter before they were played off with a blaring orchestral score.
As was all too often the case, Carl startled awake to the consequences of having left the television’s volume up while he dozed. The musical crescendo threatened to trigger his tinnitus. If that happened, the result would be a warbling screech in his ears that would leave him dizzy and imagining a drunken and tortured electronic song bird caged in his skull. Thankfully, however, this time he was spared.
He clapped violently to turn off the television. Too many claps. The apartment’s lights blinked out instead. A pain shot through his forearm. He was old. Pain was usually shooting somewhere. He ignored it.

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

Post by Meredith » June 9th, 2010, 3:57 pm

Urban Fantasy
248 words

Chapter 1: A Death in the Family

Valeriah launched herself over the locked gate and raced on down the dirt path. The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged rocks and crashing waves below. Even on a moonless night, Valeriah could see in the dark; her werewolf blood was good for that much.

The words of the note that had reached her less than an hour ago repeated through her mind with each step. Just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, “Come home as soon as you can. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have?

Her memories of the old man replayed in her head even as she ran, starting with the day he’d found her, buried under her own father’s body. That image brought up others that she had never been able to forget: blood spurting from the gash in Mama’s throat, Conall cut down by another sword stroke, the point of a blade piercing through Daddy’s back. Valeriah had left home to avenge them. She’d never intended to stay away this long.

She veered onto a less-used trail heading away from the cliff and up the scrubby hillside. Valeriah left that path and pushed through the thick brush to get to the twin oaks at the back of the nature preserve. She ignored the signs instructing her to stay on the marked trail and warning about rattlesnakes.
Last edited by Meredith on July 24th, 2010, 5:06 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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

Post by MistyWaters » June 9th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Title: The End of Days - Preternatural Series Book 1
Genre: Fantasy


Death isn't what I expected. In fact, I now envy those who can die a normal, typical human death; a death that is final, no matter how it comes to pass.

Before my death, I thought I understood the world and the life that exists in it. I thought I understood loss and betrayal. Now, I understand that I knew absolutely nothing. What I thought I knew was a fairy tale.

But what did I know? I was only human. . . .

Chapter 1 1999

A month ago. . . .

Damn it, I thought as I looked at the time on the dash. It was a quarter after eight. I was so late. Travis is going to kill me. I could see him now with that raised eyebrow shaking his head at me. He would be holding back an amused smile, but he would say, Natalie Monroe, what am I going to do with you? What happened this time? Dragon attack? Did you fall in the rabbit hole and have to run from the Mad Hatter again?

I thumped my thumbs against the worn steering wheel, impatiently willing the red light to turn green while simultaneously praying the cars that surrounded me would get out of the way. I didn't have time for the stupidity of Baltimore's typical evening traffic.

Aerosmith's I Don't Want to Miss a Thing started playing on the radio and I rolled my eyes, turning it down. I was a fan of Aerosmith, but they get their first number one hit in ages and I swear it gets more airtime than any other song that ever topped the charts.

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

Post by lr.kilian » June 9th, 2010, 4:02 pm

Title: The Bottom
Genre: Literary Fiction/Western
(245 Words)

Somewhere out on the prairie, a ringing phone cut through the silence of the wind parting the grass, and a mockingbird called back, making fun. Dan was sitting out on the porch trying to avoid all sound, especially the phone, because he knew what could be coming. He didn’t have any money but he knew what it meant when other people lost all their money and it usually meant bad things for everyone involved.
He let the machine pick up.
“Dan, it’s Tommy. You there?” He paused. “Well, we need to talk. Just, uh, just give me a call when you can… preferably before the end of the week. Alright.”
The phone clicked off, and the machine kept humming, recording the hollow heaviness of the house, the man outside of it and the land around it. Finally, the machine let out a long beep and it reminded Dan of those hospital shows on TV when someone dies on the table, “flatlines” they call it. He wasn’t about to call that guy back.

When Friday came around, Dan picked up the phone and dialed Tommy’s number anyway. He had allowed the message to stay hovering and flashing on the all week, but he couldn’t delete it. His mother taught him to never waste time waiting around for the phone to ring, but to always answer it when it did and always return the message because “you never knew.” What you didn’t know, Dan never figured out.

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

Post by BCarle » June 9th, 2010, 4:04 pm

WORKING TITLE: The Society of Unicorns & Other Exotic Goats
GENRE: YA/Literary

249 words

Life on Mars
Flagstaff, Arizona
September 1968

Elizabeth fit her feet into the rut of a forgotten rainstorm, one sneaker before the other down the old dirt road. Just a needle in a record’s scratchy groove, she sang dirges to the dying summer sun and surrendered to the pull of her secret haven. From her perch atop Mars Hill, she'd gaze over town, imagine herself as one of the soaring ravens, and forget real life. Wish for something better.

Well-bred young ladies didn’t sneak off campus. Girls who needed to stay invisible to the headmistress didn’t ditch class and head for the hills. But today was September twenty-first, and if she wasn’t in her spot on top of Mars Hill at exactly half past one, the agony would destroy her mind.

Half past one. One year past the moment she’d lost her guardian, Bebe, the only person she’d ever called her own. She hadn’t been there when Bebe died, but maybe if she could look down at the distant speck of their former home at the exact anniversary moment, Bebe would know. Bebe would help. She’d find rescue.

A growl of thunder made Elizabeth eye the trees, imagining lightning, craving it. She wanted a storm. She’d hurl herself into it and dance, scream, burn, drown – ease the raging pressure that filled her more each day.

Or, as always, she’d just huddle beneath the boulder’s ledge, watching the storm boil its way over Flagstaff.

Five more minutes. She was so close now.

And then came the voice
Last edited by BCarle on October 1st, 2011, 12:12 am, edited 9 times in total.
Stuff. Things. Blog. Untitlement

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

Post by ShaneEde » June 9th, 2010, 4:06 pm

Title : Pendragon Crystal
Genre: Fantasy
WC: 220

Melwyn woke with a start. His bed linens were drenched with his sweat. He had shrugged off the first of these dreams, but they had become more numerous over the last few revolutions of the moon. He rose from his bed and started a tea on the stove. It hadn’t done any good to ignore the dreams. Time was running short now. The crystal's appearance could only mean one thing. The King must be made aware. The tea reached a boil and he poured some into his cup and the honey he had added. He sipped it slowly until it was gone and then attempted to go back to sleep.

Morning broke quickly. Too quickly for Melwyn, his attempts to calm his nerves with tea were futile and he hadn't slept the rest of the night. He dressed in his court robes and descended the stairs to the king’s study. The reeds that lined the floor of the hall rustled seeming to whisper to Melwyn as he walked. This morning, they whispered the name of the Crystal from his dreams. The king turned as he heard Melwyn enter the study and a smile broke out across his square face. “Melwyn, it is good to see you this morning.”
The king was a large man. Broad across the shoulders and tall.

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

Post by charlotte49ers » June 9th, 2010, 4:07 pm

The Devil's Utopia
YA Dystopian
WC: 248

*I've edited this post so often, it's getting kind of embarassing*

The dungeon doesn’t appear any different than before – not in any overt way that is.

Same musty smell.

Same chill that seems to amplify with each step southward.

No, it hasn’t really changed, but there’s something intangible here. Sinister.

A shiver runs the length of my spine causing the tray of food in my hands to vibrate.

Breathe, Adelaide. Breathe.

Despite a deep intake of air, my nerves don’t improve and the tray begins to quiver even more violently.

I’m being stupid. The whispers floating back and forth between the villagers all day are morphing into shouts in my head - that’s all it is.

After all, Prisoner Nine is just like every other person locked away down here. Dangerous and awful, but nothing I haven’t experienced before.

Even as the words form in my brain, I know they aren’t true. Nine is different. Very different.

A word whistles by my ears, as if a breeze invades the stale air.


I crunch up my face, squeezing my eyes shut. My heart rate begins to pick up speed again. Damn it, get a grip Adelaide!

No one can figure out how the Outsider found us, let alone survived the open jungle alone. We’re hidden far from the Outside’s influence and no soul has entered our borders since Himmelreich’s founding years ago – well before I was born. He’s a mystery indeed.

As my curiosity increases, my nerves seem to settle. I’m not quite sure what to make of that.
Last edited by charlotte49ers on May 8th, 2011, 11:30 pm, edited 16 times in total.

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

Post by dannieunderhill » June 9th, 2010, 4:08 pm

Title: Sic Transit Gloria (working title)
Genre: YA steampunk fantasy
Wordcount: 215


The voice is rendered so faint by the general din of the factory I can barely hear it.

“Stark!” the man screams again. The word reverberates through me for a moment before it registers. I’ve always been slow in reacting to my last name. Combined with the fact that I’ve never set foot in school, this goes a long way to make people think I’m stupid. Not too stupid to hear the panicked tint of the man’s tone, though.

I spin on my heel, looking in the direction the words came from. My eyes widen. The buckets of coal fall from my hands, black lumps clattering out over the floor and leaving dark streaks in their wake. I barely even notice them. I’m too busy staring at the disaster taking shape in front of me.

The tilt of the smelter is frightening. It tips back and forth. Chains that are meant to hold it rip loose each second. When it tilts toward me I can see the bubbling, red mass inside, feel its furnace heat tear out and punch me in the face. Above the doors the expensive glow bulbs cast an angry red blaze, throwing their lights over the cavernous hall. They are hardly noticeable above all the red that’s always here.



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