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

Post by TLW » August 3rd, 2010, 11:25 pm

Title: CLIENT RELATIONS
Genre: Commercial Fiction
(246 words)

John’s hands searched for comfort in the familiar stones beneath them. Stones he ordinarily brushed past without a second thought when he went to get the newspaper, when he took the kids out to the bus, when he brought in the mail. Stones that now supported his weight in the darkness as a nightstick jammed into his rib cage and rough hands slapped his body.

“He’s clean.” The gruff voice behind him belonged to the cop holding the nightstick. “Turn around.”

John rotated his body slowly and squinted into the beam, avoiding the temptation to shield his eyes. Diego, his grill chef, always said: Cops are wired too tight, don’t move unless they tell you or they’ll kill you. Diego and his goddamn drug habit were finally proving useful.

“I’m Sergeant Molinski and this is Officer Dobbs.” Molinski eased onto the landing and clicked off the flashlight. The top of his head, even with his service cap on, barely reached John’s shoulders. “Show me some ID.” He examined the driver’s license and turned to his partner. “John Zambelli, 42-year-old white male, six-three. Black hair. Blue eyes.” Handing Dobbs the license, he added, “Run a check on this.”

“The knife must be in the house,” Dobbs said in a thick Brooklyn accent. Her earrings glinted under the slate and copper sconces at the front entrance as she marched toward her cruiser.

“How long have you been living in Chesley Ridge, Mr. Zambelli?” Molinski asked.
Last edited by TLW on August 3rd, 2010, 11:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by LeAnne » August 3rd, 2010, 11:27 pm

Title: The Crimson Ideal
Genre: Literary Fiction
Word Count: 257

There is an elegant house with lonely windows and desolate doors that sits inside its gate, surrounded by a field of the most beautiful roses. It has a vibrant appearance, for appearance's sake, but weaves a web of deceit upon the rooms within.
This place is a nasty liar, as liars go, spinning images of admirer's eyes, revealing the two-bit surface instead of the one hundred-bit core. It needs the truth delivered in a tiny package on the doorstep, rusting its gate and boarding up the windows for all to look upon the house and declare, "Now there, my friends, is Despair."
Every morning a tiny silver sports car departs the drive, purring softly as it travels away from the looming structure. The beech trees sway and stand, waving a nonchalant, feeble goodbye with their branches.
Eventually the car returns again at an unpredictable hour of the afternoon. At times it is far after the stars are already strewn across the darkening sky, but it inevitably returns. After all, there is something about the heart that always returns to despair.
Days pass and the routine endures; just as the sun manages to pull itself up over the horizon every morning.
It is the roses that change.
It is the roses that blossom and die, combating The Great Lie. They show the humanity that the house does not, revealing truth beside the glistening exterior; petals dropping to the ground to reveal thorns behind the blossoms. Prickly, ugly things they are on the interior, hidden underneath their false advertisements.

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

Post by glasshut » August 3rd, 2010, 11:42 pm

Title: Mental Pause
Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 250

My perfect life ended right after breakfast.

“Come back here with my Louis Vuitton, you bastard.” I stood on the top step of our winding staircase clutching a pair of golf shoes. His
golf shoes. I’d snatched them from his closet in a misguided attempt to slow him down.

My husband of thirty years hiked my overnight bag higher on his shoulder. “I’ll pick up the rest of my stuff later.” He shook his head and hurried out the front door, dragging my luggage behind him. The slam echoed in our marbled foyer.

One of the shoes slid from my hand and fell silently onto the plush carpet. Not to be outdone, I launched the other one down the stairs.
“How could you?” I screamed.

Choking back tears, I sagged against the wall as my legs gave way. Yesterday I was happily married and today … well, today I was the discarded wife. One phone call from our banker and my happily-ever-after ceased to exist.

I heard the click of the doorknob and watched the door swing open. Relieved, I sucked in a breath and ran down the steps. “I knew you’d change your mind.”

When I saw my neighbor Angie, I skidded to a halt. “Oh, it’s you.” A pang of something—God, was it desperation?—landed in the pit of my stomach.

They say, as you grow older, you become more like your mother. I had already begun to see her crow’s feet clawing at the corners of

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

Post by Suzi_McGowen » August 4th, 2010, 12:32 am

Title: A Troll Wife's Tale
Genre: Urban Fantasy
(250 words)

I took stock of my injuries. I hadn't even been on the job a month and I had 14 bruises, a concussion, multiple cuts and abrasions, a broken bone, and now, a gunshot wound. Being a Tooth Fairy shouldn't be this hard.

It wasn't like I always wanted to be a Tooth Fairy. If I hadn't seen that poster, I probably would have lived my entire life without that thought ever crossing my mind. But sometimes Fate steps in and changes your life.

For me, that night had started out as a typical evening. Once the sun had set, and it was safe for me to be out and about, I'd left the library and headed over to Shangri-La for my nightly cuppa tea.

I walked down the sidewalk, the silver charms on my pockets jingling with each step. Sometimes car headlights would pick me out of the darkness, but I wasn't concerned. My glamour was up and I could pass for human.

The telephone pole on the street corner was littered with signs and posters. Ads for weight loss, garage sales, a local band. The normal dross of human society. But the scent of magic caught my attention.

My nose twitched and I stopped to give the posters a more thorough look. One poster was dusted with glamour. Humans probably only saw a poster for a lost pet. What I saw was the flyer that changed my life. It said simply, "Job opening: Night Hours. Any fae may apply."

tbrand17
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by tbrand17 » August 4th, 2010, 4:51 am

Title: The Demon's Son
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 226

Sir Gallen was dead.

Quen stood over the body, heart racing. Gallen had always carried himself with a certain cruel, arrogant confidence. That was gone now. Quen thought he looked peaceful.

Somehow, that bothered Quen far more than the dagger sticking out of Gallen’s chest. It was bright silver iron inlaid with gold. A fat crimson ruby stuck in the hilt formed the centerpiece of the Roddinhath family crest. Quen’s father had given it to him on his twelfth birthday, as was the tradition.

The deep peeling of a bell echoed somewhere far away. Midnight. Quen only had minutes to get to the temple. He grasped the jeweled hilt and pulled it out. It made a soft sucking noise as it came out. Gallen’s chest sagged slightly, and dark blood began seeping from the gaping wound. Quen thought he might throw up.

Quen pulled a heavy grey robe over his garments, which had been struck with specks of blood. He wiped the dagger off on Gallen’s sheet until it seemed clean enough, and stuffed it into an inner pocket.
He had to hurry. Father Dardinger would be beginning the summoning soon. Quen knew he was to be in the mirror chamber at exactly fifteen minutes past midnight, so they could lock him in and summon the demon.

Like the knife, it was another Roddinhath family tradition.

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

Post by Dorinda Ohnstad » August 4th, 2010, 7:43 pm

Title: Faceless
Genre: Legal Thriller

Gunnar’s white oxford shirt clung to him like saran wrap, his red silk tie a noose around his neck, as he pushed open the courtroom doors. He’d sworn to never set foot in another criminal courtroom, but here he was anyway.

Gunnar slid into the back row. The gallery was shoulder-to-shoulder seating.

Monday’s criminal hearings were the busiest on the docket. The usual weekend arrest caseload jam. The Fresno County courtroom of Judge Wallace Stevens was no exception.

At the prosecution’s table, a young woman huddled over a pile of files, scanning each page with her index finger. Gunnar handled enough bail hearings to know her actions were for the benefit of today’s unusual abundance of news reporters lining the rest of the back row of seating. The hearings worked on autopilot with little opportunity to screw up. Safe territory for a prosecutor.

Judge Stevens was known to run his courtroom like an admiral at the helm of a battleship, a carryover from his military days as a JAG officer. Every day at eight o’clock sharp, a deputy paraded inmates before the judge, one at a time. Bail requests and pleas were entered. Prisoners who could afford a good attorney had a shot at being released on their own recognizance. The rest relied on their families to post bond, pledging double-wide trailers and ’65 Camaros. A few faced an extended jail stay awaiting trial.

Everyone pled “Not guilty.”

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

Post by MedleyMisty » August 5th, 2010, 9:52 am

Title: 10
Genre: Dark YA
Word Count: 243

The universe was white, silent, cracked. He counted ten cracks, ten faults in the perfection of time and space, before the hands on his shoulders yanked him away from the wall and sent him hurtling into the hard edge of a sink.

He wanted to be a drop of water. He wanted to fall into the basin and slip down its drain. He wanted to disappear.

One two three four. The hands closed on him again, pulling him back from the drain and its dream of deliverance. The sink fell away and space was white and time was black and the stall doors were breathing in and out, in and out or maybe it was him.

His legs refused to listen to his plea to keep him upright, to keep his pride intact, to at least avoid the puddle in front of the middle stall. He hit the floor and a thousand points of pain lit up in his knees and he could feel the water soaking through his khakis and it must be mixing with blood but he wouldn't think about that, not now.

He stared at the floor tiles. They moved and changed places and sometimes he thought he saw two floors and sometimes there wasn't a floor at all. He squinted, trying to make the tiles stay still so he could count them one two three four and then he saw a glint under the stall door to his left.

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

Post by JasmineDenton » August 6th, 2010, 1:02 am

Title: Son of the Sea
Genre: Romance (paranormal)

The current tossed them around, leaving them powerless. Mykaela flailed her arms and legs, trying to break her head above the surface. But the wavy line she aimed for kept moving farther and farther away.

She searched the murky water for Charity. Her listless body gyrated a few feet away from Mykaela, and a steady, thick stream of blood oozed from the back of her head. The crimson red mixed with the water in sickening swirls. There was so much blood. She had to get to her, but her limbs grew weaker by the second.

Sharp pains pulsed through her head and her vision doubled, then blurred. She fought the fatigue that washed over her, struggling to swim through the currents. The ocean around her began to fade in and out, like she was going to pass out soon. She gasped for a breath, only to receive a mouthful of saltwater.

Charity started to float further and further away, and Mykaela realized she was being pulled out. She writhed against the hold. She had to get Charity, she couldn’t just leave her here. She had to get to her…

“Breathe.” From very far away, she heard a voice, as smooth as a song and tainted with an Irish accent. “Come on, baby, breathe.”

She felt a pushing on her chest, and water rose up her lungs. She turned her head to the side and spewed out a mouthful of it, then gasped for breath.

The sand dug into her back, matted into her hair. She felt grimy all over, and cold, freezing cold.

Opening her eyes, she could see a man leaning over her. Not a man, but a boy, not much older than herself. Wisps of his shaggy blond hair fell in damp ringlets around his face, framing eyes as blue-green as the water she’d just been pulled from. They squinted down at her, seeping with concern and worry. She’d never seen him before in her life, but somehow he seemed so familiar. The golden-pink shade of the sunrise cast an iridescent glow around him, and she wondered if he was her guardian angel.

“You’re okay,” he whispered, smoothing a hand over her hair. “Just take it easy.”

written by: Jasmine Denton

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

Post by LizHales » August 6th, 2010, 12:24 pm

Title: Shift
Genre: YA Science Fiction Romance

The door slammed. I’m sure they didn’t mean for it to slam, but the sound of it rang out like the clanging of a prison cell door, harsh and definitive. In a moment of panic, I imagined wrenching the door open, chasing down the hall after them like a crazy person and begging them to take me back home. Like that would do any good. I inhaled deeply, exhaled slowly, just like he taught me. It was hard to clam down, though, when the room looked exactly like I suspected a room in a mental hospital would look: empty white walls, thin carpet that matched the color of the concrete beneath it, bare mattress wearing the stains of years of previous residents.

When my parents sat me down a week ago and told me they were sending me to boarding school—a boarding school hundreds of miles away in the suburbs of Chicago, no less—I thought it was a joke. I tried to talk them out of it, but they had packed up my things anyway and hauled me off like I was some misfit teenager doing graffiti in the park and sniffing glue.

It felt like a punishment. I know they didn’t mean to punish me; that they probably didn’t even realize what they had taken from me, but the resentment boiled over and splashed down my cheeks in hot tears.

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

Post by Gail Lynn » August 7th, 2010, 3:37 am

Title: The Da Vinci Detectives
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery
(248 words)


"See, Dar, I told you you'd love it."

Darcy squinted at the antebellum mansion through a tangled screen of honeysuckle while Leonardo wound around her legs, stretching after the long car ride. During their seven hour trip, Mom described this place as a beautiful stately home, but all Darcy saw was crumbling bricks, pealing columns, and a dilapidated porch sloping toward a brick sidewalk. Two leaning chimneys held the house together like spindly bookends. A prominent cupola loomed from the second story roof, reminding her of a wedding decoration atop a deflated cake.

She saw a faint flutter behind one of the cupola's windows, but the sun's angle blurred a better look. What was Mom thinking when she packed up their comfortable life in Lincoln Park to come to this tiny town in the middle of nowhere? The humid, pollen-infused air made her sneeze.

"I can't believe we're here!" Mrs. Madison sang as she unloaded Victor, their ancient Valiant.

A familiar pain jabbed Darcy's heart as she tucked a damp copy of her Dad's last e-mail into her journal. Her sweaty palms blurred most of the note. "Connessione" was the P.S. he added to the otherwise ordinary message. “Don’t cry,” she chided herself. She crammed the journal into her backpack and slung it over one shoulder. She scooped Leonardo into her other arm and kissed his soft fur, then followed Mom’s rolling suitcases over the minefield of bricks and across the groaning porch to the front door.

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SSB
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Joined: August 7th, 2010, 9:35 am
Location: Charleston, S.C. now, I was a Jersey Girl.
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by SSB » August 7th, 2010, 10:21 am

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Last edited by SSB on January 5th, 2011, 8:08 am, edited 18 times in total.

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

Post by hml » August 7th, 2010, 10:42 am

Title: Hunted
Genre: Urban Fantasy
(Word count 228)

The man who had just entered the nightclub was definitely an assassin. No one could keep their mind completely blank, especially when they were trying to. Intentions always came through, no matter what tricks they tried. This guy wasn’t bad at trying. He was filling his mind with inane chatter, a constant flow of meaningless thoughts, but underneath that was the feel of the gun in his hand and his readiness to kill with it. Kill me.
I watched the assassin from across the room, every sense I had on full alert. The ebb and flow of people in the crowded nightclub brought him in and out of my sight. He hadn’t seen me yet but he’d somehow known to look for me at this club. It was damn pure luck that I’d spotted him so quickly without him seeing me. I sank back a little further into the darkness of the hallway, fear a bitter taste on my tongue.
My concentration wavered and as I lost the thread of the assassin’s thoughts a mass of human thoughts swarmed in over the fragile barriers in my head that had been keeping them out all night. I swayed from the force of it and swallowed back a wave of nausea. I thought my control had gotten better than this. I could berate myself later, now I had to move.

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

Post by Tanyavalentine » August 8th, 2010, 2:10 pm

Title: Creepy Casey (and the school play)
Genre: Early/Middle chapter book
(247 words)

“For the love of monkeys, Mrs. Clump,” ten-year-old Casey Crabtree’s greasy, lopsided pigtails bounced as she half stood out of her chair and wiggled her hand high in the air. “Are you sure that clock is working?”

“Yes.” Mrs. Clump sighed. “The clock is working just fine. Now sit. And finish your work before the bell rings.”

Casey groaned and tugged her paper, pencil, and math book out of her backpack.

She twirled her left pigtail and doodled on the paper. She knew the results of this week’s Snow White auditions hung in the cafeteria. The suspense was killing her.

Her eyes returned to the big, black and white clock on the wall above Mrs. Clump’s desk. Two minutes. Casey wondered how she would survive.

She put down the pencil, and just to keep things even, switched to twirling her right pigtail. Casey let out a loud and dramatic sigh that was met with a hissing, “Shhhh.”

She didn’t dare turn her head. She knew the warning came from Cecilia Marks, who sat to her right and who’d called her “Creepy” ever since Casey accidentally threw up on her in kindergarten. Who hasn’t accidentally thrown up on someone, Casey thought. It could have happened to anyone.

Cecilia did her best to be the teacher’s pet and, unlike Casey, loved sitting on the front row. For every question Mrs. Clump asked the class, Cecilia’s arm shot up in the air - even if she didn’t know the answer.

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

Post by Kalika » August 8th, 2010, 4:34 pm

Title: Land of Dragons (boring working title woo)
Genre: fantasy

First page (238 words):
Flames danced in the darkness of a moonless night, reaching up to the stars as they devoured the shrine. Akakiba stood watching in silence, feeling the weight of failure on his shoulders. Demon blood dripped from his katana but it was small consolation to slay a monster after the damage was done.

No help would be forthcoming; the shrine’s isolation on the mountainside saw to that. It was largely irrelevant, as it would be impossible to extinguish such a raging fire no matter how many hands were lent to the task. The forest denizens were lucky; it had rained incessantly over the last few days and the soaked forest was unlikely to be engulfed in flames.

The boy stood a few steps away. His home was burning, and with it his dead father. His disheveled hair cast shadows on his face, masking his expression, but his rigid posture said everything.

“Do you have any other family?”

“No.”

Akakiba shifted, lifting his curved blade to wipe the blood away on his sleeve. His kimono was already torn and bloodied; an additional stain hardly mattered. Returning the weapon to its sheath, he turned away guiltily. It was his fault this had come to pass; his fault that a young boy had been left fatherless, bereft of the only family he’d had. Though unwillingly, he’d drawn the demon here. What could he do to redeem himself?

“Come with me,” he offered.

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

Post by wandvik » August 8th, 2010, 10:00 pm

Working Title: The Wishing Well

Genre: Fantasy

Bragzdon Hills is a small village in the center of a large forest, which is surrounded by mountains. It is spring there, the mountaintops are still snowcapped and the streams are rushing with icy-cold water. You can hear the birds sing and watch baby does leap through open poppy fields. On the outer rim of the woods, just below one of the surrounding mountains, stood a small cottage, and in this little cottage lived three kind fellow villagers. This is where our story begins.

As the sun rose over the peek of the mountaintop, one of its’ rays poked through Isabella’s window, sharing its’ warmth with her as she brushed her hair. Isabella always dreamed of being a noble who ruled over a small kingdom, where there lived the most kind and happy people. She dreamed of gowns, balls, jewels and of course, prince charming. The sun moved higher into the sky causing the beam of light to move around her room. When the light hit her mirror, it caused a shocking glare in her eyes, waking Isabella from her daydream. She rubbed her eyes and finished combing her long beautiful curly blonde hair. Isabella is very beautiful girl; she has milky white skin that is so soft to the touch, a long slender body, and clear blue eyes. The type of eyes that are mesmerizing.

Isabella gracefully got up and walked to the door, the familiar creak of the door announced her arrival to her parents that are in the kitchen. The smell of bacon filled the room along with the familiar sound of her fathers scratching on the parchment with his worn out quill, she knew the sounds of his quills all to well. Her mother, Catherine, was cooking breakfast and her father, Thomas, was making notes as he read the town paper. He was gathering information of when the market would open and what was going to be sold today.

“Come sit down.” Catherine said, her voice not as calming as it usually was.

“Isabella,” her mother continued, “I would like you to go to the village market with your father today and while he is selling the tools he has made, I would like you to sell the clothes that I have made. Get a fair price for them or make a good trade. I could use a new kettle and I notice you could use a new brush.”

Her Papa looked over the scroll and murmured, “Also a new quill and some ink for me.”

Isabella’s eyes sparkled with joy; it was not often that her parents let her go to the village. She ate her breakfast, while her father loaded the cart. Soon they were on their way to the market, ridding through the woods on a pebble path that led to the village.

Mr. Bransford I want to thank you for your consideration, and time you take to give your knowledge to us hopeful writers.

Thank You

Linda Kay Wandvik

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