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 Kirril » August 16th, 2010, 4:02 pm

Title: On The Corner of Here and After
Genre: YA Paranormal
251 words

Life pulled the plug on humans at two on a Sunday afternoon.

At first I didn't realize I was dead.

The event happened so suddenly that I'll bet it caught everyone off guard. I remembered looking down at the law school application in front of me and trying to fill in the blanks. But a daydream about Chris Rogers kept intruding. I was hoping he'd ask me to prom, or at the very least show me a little interest. Then everything blurred for just a second.
The application vanished. My house was gone. Around me stood a few hundred dazed people looking at an unnaturally pale sky above and then at each other. We stood on a rolling grassy plain that stretched forever in each direction. People dotted the landscape like scattered sheep under a white alien sun.

I recognized several of the people near me, neighbors mostly. Ms. Tate, the neighborhood's religious freak looked at me open-mouthed. I looked at her open-mouthed. She wasn't wearing any clothes. Now I knew why there'd never been a Mr. Tate. My head jerked away from the sight and I gagged. Her body would blind a freaking blind person. Other people around me wore odd clothing or, like Ms. Tate, none at all. A scrawny wrinkled dude showed his stuff in tight cutoff jean shorts, a pot-bellied guy terrified nearby children in his red banana hammock, and a middle-aged woman sauntered around in the kind of lingerie you don't plan keeping on for long.

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

Post by erica.c.woo » August 16th, 2010, 5:37 pm

Genre: YA Contemporary

Bee unlocked the small gray box she kept carefully hidden at the back of her closet, and removed a crumpled, well worn piece of paper. She placed the letter on top of her pillow, and locked the box again. She returned it to its hiding place, buried under a pile of old clothes, paintings, and books she had never read; her closet’s mess and disorganization the key to keeping her parents as far away from the box as possible.

She turned on the lamp that hung over her small twin bed and settled into the mound of pink pillows that accented her fuchsia sheets. She smiled as she unfolded the letter, and refused to put it down until she had read it three times as she did on nights she couldn’t sleep. Her eyes finally closed. The paper fell to her chest seconds before a soft tapping started on her two story bedroom window. Bee tossed over onto her side, and crumpled the paper further. The knocking grew louder. It wasn’t until the boy, who desperately wanted to get into Bee’s room, threw his backpack against the window that Bee tumbled off of her bed and face planted onto the floor.

Through the mess of curly hair that hung over her face she made out the figure that sat and watched her. His own mess of light brown curls covered his eyes.

“You are so dead,” Bee threatened as she stalked towards the window.

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

Post by RW Hogan » August 16th, 2010, 8:15 pm

Title; Prodigy Of The Rope
Genre; Adult Supernatural
(243 words)

Lost in thought, my thumbnail etched a groove in the chair’s wooden arm. Alone, I watched the doctor’s receptionist pry open the waiting room door and squeeze in, barely seeing over the package she carried. Quietly I stood to offer help, failing to see the stiletto letter opener she held with the box in rather reckless fashion. She turned suddenly and the opener jabbed through my jacket, piercing my rib cage.

No blood let, no pain.

“Eyyy...” she cried, stumbling back, nearly falling. Blood spots tracked along her white blouse and I hesitated to move any closer. Not because of the blood; blood never bothered me, but her blood mesmerized me, brought me back to a time when I’d last seen my own. Mortality came to mind, not mine… others. She froze, her hands unable or unwilling to feel the wound. Finally she retreated back through the door in tears. I sat again to wait. The past, untamed, raw, seeped into my brain setting off a deluge of self-assessment.

A metamorphosed man.

How am I normal given the circumstances? Some might suggest me a monster, yet I own a poet’s tongue and a scholar’s calculated prudence. My heart is what pounds a treachery, and retribution fills those severed fickle chambers.

A truth in supposition, I am bewitched. And within these venal reaches truth lay buried and complicated, and for me, I live the lie that I am. I breathe it each day.

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

Post by Kristoff » August 16th, 2010, 9:07 pm

Title; The Last Stormdancer
Genre; YA Steampunk
(252 words)

As the iron war club scythed towards her teeth, Yukiko couldn’t help wishing she’d listened to her father.

She tumbled aside as the azalea tree behind her was smashed into kindling. The oni loomed above her, twelve feet of lean midnight-blue, all iron-tipped tusks and long, jagged fingernails. It stank of open graves and burning hair, its funeral candle eyes bathing the forest with guttering light. The club in its hands was twice as long as Yukiko was tall; one direct hit, and she would never see the samurai with the sea-green eyes again.

“Well, that’s clever,” she chided herself. “Thinking about boys at a time like this.”

A spit-soaked roar pushed her hard in the chest, scattering a cloud of sparrows from the temple ruins at her back. Petals drifted in the air around her, paper-thin and delicate as snowflakes. Lightning licked the clouds, bathing the whole scene in fleeting, brilliant white: the endless wilds, the stranded girl, and the pit demon poised to cave in her skull.

Yukiko turned and ran.

Trees stretched in every direction, a steaming snarl of roots and undergrowth, stinking of green rot. Branches whipped her face and tore her clothes, rain and sweat slicked her skin. She touched the fox tattoo on her arm in prayer, tracing its nine tails beneath her fingertips. The demon behind her bellowed as she slipped away, over root and under branch, deeper into the suffocating heat.

She called for her father, for Kasumi or Akihiro, for anybody. No answer.
Last edited by Kristoff on September 1st, 2010, 10:22 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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

Post by alexs » August 16th, 2010, 9:33 pm

Title; Not sure yet
Genre; Historical fiction
Place/time; France/Germany, 1944-1945

“Why am I here?” I asked unexpectedly.
“I already told you. You hold valuable information that the Germans want.”
“As in… papers?” I closed my eyes as he tenderly pulled the cloth away from the place where the bullet pierced my skin.
“No. They searched you and found nothing. But they did find the gun in your jacket, and the penknife in your boot. They took your L-Pill also.”
“When you first came here and were unconscious. That’s also when I performed surgery on you.”
“You… you did surgery on me?”
“Yes. I successfully removed the bullet, and so far it hasn’t killed you. But you are still unwell, and your shoulder is infected.” He had gotten the old bandages off, and now he was putting the pink ointment on my shoulder. He set the jar aside and started to dress my wound. It stung, and I stifled a cry.
“Why are you so… gentle?” I asked between haggard breaths.
“Not all Germans are brutal.”
“Your English is so good also. I hear hardly a hint of an accent.” I closed my eyes tight as he wrapped the cloth around my shoulder.
“I went to a university and studied English the right way.”
Jeremiah finished my shoulder and then helped me to eat and drink, all in silence. The doctor gathered his things and left.
I could not believe this man. He was a German, and yet, he seemed to care about a twenty year old, French prisoner of war.

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

Post by tinkettleinn » August 16th, 2010, 10:15 pm

Title: The Pious
Genre: YA Fiction
Word Count: 247

The dress was a shade of ivory only a little lighter than her skin, with short, capped sleeves and a long empire waist, cinched by a belt that tied into a bow in the back. Joan was poised in front of the mirror with her long, brown braid draped over her shoulder like a shawl and her arms hanging neatly at her sides. As the circled date on the calendar next to her desk – October 4th – drew nearer, Joan had begun rehearsing for Confirmation on a daily basis. She was going to be renewing the vows made at her Baptism; the ones her parents confirmed for her. Now that she’s of age, she can speak for herself and be in control of her relationship with God.

“Do you renounce Satan?” She said in Bishop O’Connor’s voice.

“I do.”

“And all his works?”

“I do.”
“Joan Elizabeth Bernadette La Pucelle, do you believe that in one God there are three Divine Persons – God, the Father, God, the son, and God, the Holy Ghost?”

“I do.” Joan searched the mirror. She thought about trying to summon the ghost of the Catholic Tudor Queen, again. She could hear Greg Flynn bragging about his daring feat to her during homeroom.

“If you stand in front of a mirror in a dark room and say 'Bloody Mary' three times, she will appear to you."

"You're lying," Joan feigned disbelief, even though she couldn't wait to go home and try it for herself.

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

Post by morningstar » August 16th, 2010, 11:20 pm

250 words: Literary fiction
“No one saw you sneak out, did they, Wendy?” Howard Blake’s words hovered in the darkness.
“Don’t think so.” My voice—thin as tracing paper—disintegrated in the night air. Maybe before it even reached the night air. What was I doing?
Evening stole all the blue from the sky, draping it in veiled shades of black. Behind me, muffled chords from Faith Hill’s “There You’ll Be” leaked through the door, tempting me to return to the gym.
“Please, don’t leave,” Howard’s plea vibrated like strings on a bluegrass guitar. I would’ve laughed at his nervousness, but my own courage threatened to hightail it back to the dance floor.
“We shouldn’t be out here. We’re breaking school rules.” Adrenaline bubbled inside my head like a shaken bottle of Dr. Pepper, foam out of control, making me dizzy with risk. Dizzy—and excited.
Applause skidded into the night. New music. Louder. Faster. Matching my heartbeat.
“We can’t stay here,” Howard said. “They’ll find us.”
Sport jacket sleeves draped to his fingertips. Pant cuffs bunched in excess around his ankles. Poor Howard. Daddy had splurged on my strapless dress. Howard got stuck with his brother’s hand-me-downs. He fiddled with the longhorn bolo on his braided leather necktie, slid it up and down, the tarnished bull more confident than either of us.
“I know a good spot,” he said.
The bashful moon ducked behind a thicket of sooty clouds. “It’s too dark out here.”
“Follow the wall. Come on, you promised.”

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

Post by maybegenius » August 16th, 2010, 11:33 pm

Genre: YA Steampunk/Mystery


Clara Dietrich normally found the parks of Chicago proper quite calming – brief respites of color caged between the gray and brown buildings. There were no whispers among the trees, no pitying or accusatory glances from the birds.

But today she could find no peace.

Expensive but ill-fitting leather boots clomped on the path toward her bench, fracturing the stillness of the cool October air. The little cardinal she’d been drawing took off in a flurry of red wings, leaving the seed she’d spread on the ground forgotten.

She sighed and snapped her sketchbook closed. “Hello, Mirabelle.”

Mirabelle Bonnet brushed her cinnamon curls out of her eyes and looked down her nose at Clara. She wore a small fortune in Parisian style, including an ebony-colored walking gown and gloves trimmed with pearl buttons. The material hung loose over her slightly-too-thin-to-be-fashionable figure. A garish choker of gold and emeralds adorned her scrawny neck, clashing horribly with the black.

“Clara, darling. Playing with your friends again?” Mirabelle asked with a sweet smile. Her trio of sycophantic companions stood a few steps behind her, giggling beneath their parasols.

“Quite honestly, I’d been enjoying a pleasant afternoon away from mindless prattle,” Clara said, glaring pointedly at the gigglers. They scowled back at her. “And yourself?”

“We were having a nice walk before my father’s gala this evening. Surely you’ll be in attendance with your lovely mother?”

Clara bit the inside of her cheek and didn’t respond. A familiar heat crept up her neck.
Last edited by maybegenius on August 28th, 2010, 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
aka S.E. Sinkhorn, or Steph

My Blog | My Twitter | YA!Flash Tumblr

Represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary

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

Post by ColleenSHarris » August 17th, 2010, 12:04 am

Title: Warborn
Genre: Fantasy

Markus concentrated on the steady rhythm of chopping wood, the pleasant burn in his broad shoulders every time he hefted the broad axe. Tall and muscular, his grey eyes squinted against the sun slanting through the forest canopy. It was a gentle autumn morning, and he barely registered the chill breeze as he wiped sweat and unruly black hair from his brow. He began the walk from the woodshed to the small cottage, thinking about lunch and kissing his wife.
He failed to notice the exact moment the forest sounds of birdsong and insect trilling faded to an eerily alert silence. His own feet crunching across the trail slowly brought him to. He stopped in his tracks, jarred from his thoughts. Hoofbeats echoed through the forest beyond the house; judging by the sound, they were barely a league away. He ran the distance to the house, desperate to prepare some defense. He gave no thought to who the enemy would be – that they were enemy was a surety, and enough to make his blood race.
“Caela!” he cried. “For your life, find a weapon!” He brought himself up short as he thundered through the doorway. His petite, cuddly wife was already decked for battle in a stout leather tunic, holding a wickedly curved blade. His own sword and fighting dagger, put away long ago in the hopes he would never draw them again, lay on the table at her side. He looked into her eyes, and his stomach clenched.

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

Post by MACS » August 17th, 2010, 2:47 am

Title: The Aviary
Genre: Women's Fiction

May, 1998, York, England

He’s obviously not coming back. The question is: why? The thought is so painful, so devastating, that all I can do is pull the sheet over my head and fall back into the oblivion of heartache-induced sleep. Maybe when I wake up, this will be nothing but a dream.
I’m sweating between the clammy sheets, beneath the musty wool blanket. Late May mid-day heat is building in my stuffy Spartan hostel room in the increasingly alien city of York. A double co-ed room that Marc-Antoine and I checked into a week ago, and which I have now occupied—alone—for three days.
He might have been mugged. It happens to tourists all the time. Maybe on the way home from the pub Friday night…
Prying open my swollen eyelids, I survey the worn-out view. My brown corduroys slumped where I discarded them, two of my four t-shirts where I tossed them nearby. My Tevo sandals marking the spot where I stood at the end of the day, like the steps of a solitary dance lesson. On the beat-up, utilitarian desk by my cot, what remains of the UK cash Marc-Antoine left me with, about twenty pounds seventy-three pence, I think, at last count. Not much.
If he doesn’t come back, I’ll have to…
I roll over and stare at the wall. It needs painting. Years of abuse and neglect have diminished what character this marginally interesting heritage building once had. There is water damage running down one corner of the room, and the brown-stained yellowed paint is cracked and buckling.
On the other hand, he had to come back here to get his backpack. And mine! But why? He had to have planned to go somewhere…
My stomach churns, empty. I ate my last granola bar yesterday, and will have to venture out or starve. I won’t call Mom and Dad. I can’t. If it weren’t for Marc-Antoine, I would never have had the courage to defy them. To come away with Marc on this trip to Europe on scant savings and borrowed money. To assert my so-called independence.
And now he’s gone, and I’m well and truly alone.

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

Post by sophieplayle » August 17th, 2010, 8:16 am

Thanks for this opportunity. I have been following this feature in the blog for a while now - it's been very insightful!

TITLE: Mortork (first in the series Tales from Turquania)

GENRE: YA Fantasy


Atilda swapped her silk dresses for rags, and escaped once again.

Reaching high into the clouds, the many dark towers of Ebúdicia Castle loomed over the kingdom below, the twisted peaks reaching into the dank air. The castle swarmed with gargoyles, their cracking stone flesh coiled and arched. The great oak door was tightly shut; black iron bars snaked up the thick wood, bent outwards in a threatening guard. The drawbridge was up. The thick black water of the moat bubbled as a scaly body skimmed the surface before descending silently into the murky depths.

Atilda looked away from the ghastly sight. She gathered up the rope she used to grapple herself across the narrowest part of the moat and hid it in the bushes. She pulled her hood down, hiding her face and sheltering herself from the spitting rain. Turning away from the castle, she headed towards the streets of Elumanna, her feet as silent as the owl’s wing.

The market place was hauntingly deserted. The inhabitants of the city were no more than living corpses, each the same with their matted hair, rotting teeth and decaying clothes. The city hadn’t always been this way, though Atilda had been too young to remember better times.

Atilda pulled her dark cloak tighter around her body, her face completely invisible in the shadow of her hood. A carriage rattled by. A moist stench in the air burnt the back of her throat.

(241 words)

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

Post by Chuck » August 17th, 2010, 9:55 am

Title: Lyndenhurst
Genre: Literary/Historical Fiction

That was the week in February 1905 when a favorite gardener of the Gould family died, and an unexpected warmth pushed itself down through the wisps of white clouds, made its way northward above the swelling waters of the Hudson River, and fell like a soft blanket on the highlands of New York.

To the local inhabitants of Tarrytown the warmth was, of course, a welcomed respite from winter.

But they weren’t naïve.

They knew that which brought this piece of earth to thaw, seduced the sodden ground to breed the flowers did so with the false promise that the harshness of winter was fully put to rest. Whether it was God or the absence of God responsible for this hoax—no one could say. And few really cared. The philosophy of the local remained: days drift one into another and some of us struggle and some of us pray but we all return to the dust.

And so it is.

And so it was. On that sunny day, long ago, when Henry Graham came stumbling out of Mike Flanagan’s Saloon on Orchard Street, made his way up Tarrytown’s muddy Main Street, past “Squire” Elias Nann’s Hat Store, past the Pierson Greenhouses before finally arriving at Sackett and Company Druggist.

The miniature bell hanging on the door hinge rang out his arrival. Inside, there was a musty odor that mixed with a sickly sweet smell of syrup and chemicals.

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

Post by sldwyer » August 17th, 2010, 12:20 pm

SL Dwyer
Title - Dirt
Genre - Literary
Words - 247
Last edited by sldwyer on August 17th, 2010, 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by sldwyer » August 17th, 2010, 12:22 pm

What a great opportunity. Love your site and all the information you put out there.

SL Dwyer
Title - Dirt
Genre - Literary
Words - 247

A hot, angry wind blew across the ravaged land, scorching layer upon layer of once fertile earth. Obliterating man, beast, and vegetation from what they once were and what they could have been. Undulating oceans of gritty land resembled a foreign landscape, bleak and desolate, constantly changing. Homes became skeletal remains, framed by twisted fencing and gnarled trees.

Miles upon miles, the land had been abandoned to the ever present winds and swirling dirt. Sad remnants of dwellings stood sentry, waiting for a time when the land would lose its hostility and men and their families could return. So became the picture of the southern plains during the great dust bowl. Families struggled for the merest survival amidst a wasted environment.

In Texas County of Oklahoma, the Larkin farm fared no better than the rest of the rural homesteads. The ragged wood framed house, sandblasted and weathered, creaked and whistled in tune to the unforgiving wind. In the tiny, bare kitchen, bathed in the golden light of an oil lamp, Becka Larkin stifled another round of tears. Days of talking had turned into hours of crying, although all the crying in the world wouldn’t solve the problem they faced. Her eyes, red and swollen, held the pain only a loving parent could feel, and the defeat of a human being.

Hank stared into the glow from the lantern, unable to look at the woman who held his heart. His weather beaten hands lay splayed on the table

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

Post by LaylaF » August 17th, 2010, 12:29 pm

Title: Serendipity
Genre: Commercial Fiction

The old, blind man woke with a start; something was wrong, but, between the booze in his brain and the ache in his bones he was in no condition to think clearly. He rolled over, scooting closer into the doorway, pulling his makeshift, cardboard blanket nearer to him in an attempt to keep out the cold. Winter was creeping in, maybe that’s all it was, the winter cold. And yet, so quiet, so still, it felt evil...a shiver went up his spine; he curled into the fetal position, closed his sightless eyes tight and fell back to sleep.


The phone rang, it was 4 a.m., Sam Richards turned over, “This can’t be good.” And he reached for the phone.
“It’s 4 a.m. This better be important.” he said into the receiver.
“It is Sam. You’d better get down here. I’ve got the Police Chief with me. There’s been a lot of killings, it’s the homeless people. Some sort of mass murder spree. It’s not good Sam. Not good at all.”
“I’ll be right there.” Sam jumped up and started to dress.
“What’s wrong, honey?” Sheila Richards said in a sleepy haze. Turning over towards her husband, Sam could see just a corner of her breast peeking through her tousled nightgown. He made a mental note of it. After all these years, Sam never tired of his wife’s beauty. She had a power over him that never diminished. Tough, rugged, ex-cop turned mayor. That’s how the world saw Sam Richards.


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