Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
GSMarlene
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by GSMarlene » April 2nd, 2014, 8:15 pm

Title: MIGHTY MIKE AND THE INTERGALACTIC CANDY DISPENSER
Genre: MG Sci-fi

Mike sat on the community park bleachers and glanced from his math book to the soccer field. Still clear.

According to The List of Chumps to be Pounded After School, today was hang-Mike-like-a-piñata Wednesday. The List belonged to Brutus, the biggest kid in sixth grade. Failing to call the bully by his self-chosen nickname broke Chump Rule #1. Mike blew that the first day of fifth grade. On the second, he sat in Brutus’ swing. His name had topped The List ever since.

Crack!

Just Little League batting practice on the diamond behind him. Mike gritted his teeth and hoped no one saw his panic. He would not hide in his house like a friendless dork. His plan to escape The List had to work.

Step one: attend the Space Camp Academy section two years ahead of his age group. Step two: become the youngest astronaut—

“C’mon Mike, we need another player.” Carlos bounced the soccer ball against the lowest bench.

Demonstrating his sorry soccer skills was not Mike’s favorite after-school activity, but he never turned down his best—and only—friend. Besides, doing homework on the bleachers just encouraged the dork title. Maybe the bully wouldn’t even show up. Just in case, Mike ran downfield. Way downfield.

He stretched, pretending to miss Carlos’ wave to move closer.

“Oh look, it’s Afro-Einstein.” Brutus’ screech drowned out shouts from the other players as they scrambled for the ball.

Mike froze. When his zero-gravity omelet-maker won the science-fair, the judge called Mike the next Einstein.

chris13
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by chris13 » April 2nd, 2014, 8:28 pm

Musicmakers
YA fantasy
(248 words)

Roiseen dropped her violin case on the kitchen counter, ignoring the violin's protesting twang. Music was dead to her.

She slid into a chair and propped her second favorite pair of identical cowboy boots on the family recyclables bin. Remnants from last night's Philly cheesesteak tumbled over smelly take-out containers. Tilting her chair against the wall, she inched her fingers under her woven leather bracelet. Oozing red sores on her wrist patterned the bracelet's Celtic design.

She snapped it hard.

Glancing quickly at the doorway, she shook her wrist until the pain slowed. It wasn't like she was a cutter. This helped her focus.

The phone rang. "Simone O'Reilly?"

Roiseen pinched her nostrils. "Wrong number."

"Is Simone about?""I said, no Simone here." Her finger hovered over the disconnect. How many collection calls had she shielded Mom from this week?

"I know 'tis ye, Roiseen." The woman's Irish brogue turned hard. "Put your mother on. It's Brigit from Cnoc Feeorin."

Roiseen eyed the phone. As far as she knew, her parents had broken off contact with Dad's Irish godmother. "I doubt Mom wants to talk to you."

"Tell her your father is on his way here." The connection faded then hummed back to life.

Roiseen white knuckled the receiver. "You talked to him? Where is he? Is he okay? We haven't heard anything for--." She looked at the wall clock. For 26 days and about 12 hours. "Wait. Dad never said he was visiting you."


Blog: chriskellywriter@wordpress.com

Amy Talbot
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Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Amy Talbot » April 2nd, 2014, 8:52 pm

Title: The Agartha
Genre: Acopolytic fiction

“We have seen things such as one does not describe for fear of making others doubt one’s intelligence … but still we have seen them.” — L’Indie Brahmanique

“I’ve never killed before.”

“It’s simple. Just point and shoot.”

Genelle glanced at Wirimu, who stood beside her. The Tamatoa was formidable in stature, tall and broad. The low angle of the afternoon sun gilded the bold dragorex tattooed on his pate. The beast clawed its way around from the Tamatoa’s neck to his forehead, its powerful form covered in metallic gold scales. Vivid red ink tipped each scale as though the dragorex had dragged them through recently spilled blood.
“I am not afraid; I merely express a fact.”

“I do not doubt your courage, Gardien,” he said, his tone unperturbed. “I would not have followed you had I believed otherwise.” He laid his right hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “God will protect us.”

“Are you suggesting that I put my trust in God, but keep a weapon loaded?”

“It’s a quote, little one,” he countered. “Sometimes God requires us to look after ourselves.”

“A comforting thought.”

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

Post by wendy » April 2nd, 2014, 9:02 pm

Old library doors of wood and glass rumbled apart, and a female garbed in a colourful array appeared in the opening. With awkwardness and frustration she struggled to maintain her grip on two large books, a bunch of keys and the shoulder bag fighting to escape her narrow shoulder. The keys in her right hand seemed more resigned to their fate, although they jangled in protest.

With long, slender fingers she fiddled with a silver key in the lock until both doors were bound together. The keys were dropped and zipped into her bag; however, the coffee table book thudded triumphantly onto the ground. She gathered it up nearly losing her grip on the smaller one as well. The coffee table book had a glossy dust jacket with gold lettering and otherworldly denizens illustrated in a rich, pre-Raphaelite style. A golden nymph of a girl with a cloud of titan hair, accompanied by a gentle unicorn, graced the front cover. Her glittering gaze was focused upon a vista beyond the autumn-toned glen she inhabited.

The leaner book had a soft cover illustrated in anime, with silver lettering, featuring an eldritch folk with hair and eyes as dark as the night enveloping them. In the immediate foreground an ageless, cheeky face on a disproportionately thin neck grinned out of the cover at a ninety degree angle. The background showed other little men frisking and frolicking on spindly limbs around trees made silvery and shadowy from the castings of the moon. Their joyous, capricious demeanour evoked the contradictory impression of a folk, fun and child-like, while aware of mystical realities, like a cat who might play energetically with a toy mouse then moments later will stare up with round, sage eyes filled with mystery and feline enchantment.

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

Post by meghanethompson » April 3rd, 2014, 5:13 am

A tiny girl, only eight star cycles old, knelt in the eaves of the Domchaum Temple. All around her, soldiers were pulling men from their homes. Women screamed and clutched at their husbands while holding tight to their sons. Flames from nearby farms slithered toward the village and terror spread from cottage to cottage like a plague. The green-skinned girl who had arrived with the soldiers covered her ears and closed her eyes.

Her brother wasn’t far away. He had brought her along and told her to wait by the temple because she had been chosen for a special mission. She would set an example for the gray-skinned Istilians who had offended the deity Dia by refusing to submit to the kings of the Eastern Edge of Mavornia.

The little girl couldn’t imagine what she was supposed to do for those strangers. Why had she been chosen for anything? She wanted to go home and hide under a table. Just a few feet to her left, a woman shrieked from inside a dilapidated stone cottage. The girl scrunched herself up into a ball and tried to make herself invisible. A terrible smell of burning contrasted with the cold penetrating her long robes and the hood, which all put covered her face.

“Get up!” The girl’s brother stood in front of her, carrying a sack. “Stand here while I talk to the Captain, but be ready to move when I tell you.”

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

Post by carollux » April 3rd, 2014, 2:44 pm

Title: Carolina Chrysalis
Genre: Women's Fiction

As I pass through that second when all possibilities are suspended in time, I earnestly pray that the downhill rush ends in a quick merciful flight into space plunging to the river below. Melodramatic? Yeah just a bit, but driving alone through the Blue Ridge Mountains on a sunless late autumn afternoon can bring out the drama queen in me.

You know the feeling of becoming untethered from the earth, just before reaching the apex of the steepest hill on a roller coaster? The disorientation as you throw your head back screaming with your hands in the air, anticipating that huge drop where your stomach stays hundreds of feet high, but the rest of you rushes headlong straight down? It’s a rush like no other. I feel that weightlessness now.

Gravity takes hold again as I dip down into the steep switchback leading from the small college town of Brevard toward the tiny community of Cruso. It’s late fall and the leaf peepers are mostly gone, along with most of the autumn colors. This time of year there are as few visitors here in the western Carolina mountains as there are leaves left on the oaks and maples. I intentionally chose this time of year to visit so I can avoid the tourist season, knowing that the bleakness of the bare trees will better suit my mood.

lavfam
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Post by lavfam » April 4th, 2014, 1:13 pm

Title: THE WIDOW GINTY: In the Shadows of the Family Tree
Genre: Historical Fiction


I imagine her like this:

A short woman, no taller than five foot or so. Grey eyes and maybe a sallow complexion which speaks to the trials she must have suffered to get to America. Dark hair plaited behind her head as was the style of the day. Once she was settled and had achieved a comfortable lifestyle, she became enamored with her sweets and pastries. Maybe making up for all the years she had gone without. Because of this, she has become rotund and her face, puffy.

She sits calmly in a recliner style chair in her front parlor. The view out her window is of an ordinary residential street in the town of Colusa, California, and she is able to relax and gaze out. She does not have a nervous temperament---she never did despite all the hardships she has endured. She has the rare ability to remain calm in a crisis.

She sips on some brandy when the sun goes over the yardarm. That has become a ritual. The weekly paper is next to her and she is a regular reader. That has also become a ritual. You could not guess at her past----or her future---if you saw this snapshot in time.

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

Post by freddierae » April 21st, 2014, 11:16 am

Title:The Beautiful Weeds
Genre: Children's Easy Reader

As it got closer I could tell it was ugly. It was hairy. The wind picked up and I shuddered; I smelled rotten eggs and garlic. I was pretty sure it hadn’t seen me yet, and for now its back was towards me. As it smelled me I knew I'd be a goner. It probably had giant wings. It could most likely leap six, no, ten feet in the air! With one big gulp I bet it could swallow me whole. Oh, what had I done? No one knew I was out here. It could be days before they found me, if they even came looking. How I wish I was in my raspberry patch. Oh Thistle Thorns! Don't cry now, don't cry now.

The Beast started zigging and zagging; first to the left, then to the right. It was hunting for something and was now square between me and where I thought the Far, Far Fence should be. There was nowhere to go; farther away and I’d be more lost. Closer and I’d be walking into certain disaster. That’s when it turned around and looked me straight in the eye. I dropped to the ground hard, trying to hide in the tall grass. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could and waited.
Not more than two minutes later I felt the sun disappear. The Beast was towering over me, casting a big shadow. I was not prepared for what I saw when I opened my eyes.

EJK
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Post by EJK » June 23rd, 2014, 5:00 pm

Title: Late Nights
Genre: Literary Fiction

The last of the bar is wiped down with the once white rag by the bartender. His large sweeping hand glides across the deep, stained wood like so many times before. Lights flicker, as if struggling to live through the dank and unmistakable odor of a booze filled night. The damp and beaten wooden floors, the air that hangs stale as if in a jail cell, the collages on the walls of patrons lost to the years, all things that are ignored by the masses when feeding their alcoholic desire, become the company to the bartender when the pub is empty. Memories fill all the stools but one.

At the opposite end sits a man with a drink whose eyes focus on nothing but the liquid and ice that fill his glass. His thin flaxen hair matted is to his brow and his face is full of valleys, each a scar of previous late nights. He sits, a gargoyle on its perch, and only moves when he’s ready for his next sip. He lifts his drink and finishes the last of his whiskey.
“One more,” he asks as the glass hits the bar.
“We’re closing up, bud,” the bartender says.
“Just one more.”

The bartender sees the desperation in his eyes. The look of the defeated and the desperate. Of those collapsing from the weight of old age and experience. This man is not the first to have this look in that stool in this bar.

STheban
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Post by STheban » June 23rd, 2014, 6:48 pm

Title: DYING IN THE HARD MOON
Genre: Historical Fiction (MG)
228 words

A boy can only clean equipment and fix fences so much till he starts thinking about what’s outside those fences. That’s how come I was heading out. I had my pole and line all ready and a kerchief stuffed with a little snack for later – just a couple of Ma’s good biscuits. Pa was walking the corn field, looking for weeds for me to hoe, and I had to get out of there quick. I grabbed my gear and slunk off toward the river. The prairie rolled away from our house, the huge blue sky above it. Once I got over a couple of rises or disappeared into that high grass, Pa’d never see me, and he wouldn’t know which fishing hole I headed for. It was gonna be a sunny day. A perfect day to be outside before winter hit, with those long snowed in days and darker nights. Today, I might even swim some. All I knowed for sure was that I wasn’t planning on hoeing weeds. My shoulders felt free and light and I guess I wasn’t careful as I needed to be. I don’t know if my steps was too loud or if I really sang the tune I thought was just in my head, but I done something that let Pa know what I was up to.

“John,” he called. “Where you headed?”

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

Post by pabrown » June 23rd, 2014, 6:58 pm

Title: Indifferent City
Genre: Historical

 

Cocking his head, LAPD officer Billy Duquesne considered the man handcuffed to the chair in front of him. With his long wrinkled neck, his mouth flapping and squawking, the Chicago accountant, Konrad ‛Cueball’ Drescher, looked like a scrawny bird wearing wire-rim glasses. Billy threw Turk Bourne, his partner, a bemused glance.

“Doesn’t look all that dangerous,” Billy muttered.

“You have the wrong man.” Drescher’s eyes bugged out of his head when he spoke. His voice came out high-pitched. Sweat glistened on his upper brow. Not the face of an innocent man.

Light slanted through the Venetian blinds in the decaying Long Beach motel. Maybe at one time it had been a decent place, back in the Julian Pete days when Mid-westerners flocked to Los Angeles to hand their money over to grifters. Now it was an empty flophouse, perfect for Billy’s needs.

“We got the wrong guy,” he said with an exaggerated shake of his hatless head. “What a pisser. How did that happen after all our hard work? And we told the Captain we had him.”

“Capt’n ain’t gonna be happy to hear that,” Turk said, picking his yellow teeth with his bone-handled Arkansas toothpick. He flicked bits of dinner on the motel room floor carpet and frowned, his scarred lip twisting away from his teeth. “Might even think it’s our fault.”

Billy scowled, resisting the urge to grin. You only got into trouble when your boss cared and Captain Jeffers didn’t. “I hate it when he does that.”

“Don’t you know who I am?” Drescher rattled the handcuffs. They looked at him like they just remembered he was there.

“Why, didn’t your momma tell you?” Straddling the scarred wooden chair facing Drescher, Billy leaned on the ladder back, tapping the wood with the barrel of his single action Colt .45 revolver. “I was you I’d take that up with her.”

“Man’s surely got a right to know who he is.” Turk moved on to cleaning his fingernails with the tip of his blade. “Though I gotta admit my momma never did know who my daddy was.”

“You fools,” Drescher wheezed, hyperventilating. His face flushed. His voice rose. “You kill me and this will never end.”
GK Parker
http://gkparkernoir.com/

History like you've never seen

mholland4
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by mholland4 » June 23rd, 2014, 7:23 pm

Title: The Dog of Pel
Genre: Fantasy
(250 words)

Jamie Pel hammered new shingles onto the roof of his small house. He had chores to finish before the cold came, and it suited him to be up here, alone, as he worked off his anger and irritation. The local girl, his last unofficial liaison, had slammed out of the house last night after a final volley of recriminations. He should have known it would never work.
It was a beautiful clear day, with no hint of fall rain. He’d deliberately chosen a dwelling without near neighbors in a remote corner of Pel Demesne. The locals knew who he was and steered any encroaching brickies or begging waifs away. In return, he listened to their problems and did what he could. He did what was possible. He could not grant what he did not control, no matter what some people thought. He thought he’d made that plain at the beginning, although Jenifer had obviously not listened. Her assumption that he’d lied to get her into his bed had made him angrier than anything else she’d said.
He finished a row of shingles and sat on the roof ridge for a rest. From there he had a clear view to the Reave Mountains in the east. This far from the demesne border the Boundary was a faint haze, almost invisible. Autumn colors had started in the trees: scarlet, orange and gold. Some leaves had dropped and the cool scent of fall was in the air. This wasn’t home but it was beautiful.

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

Post by pianomandove » June 23rd, 2014, 11:23 pm

Long dark hair, big bright eyes and an amazing ability to find trouble wherever trouble was, fourteen-year-old Julia sat on her bed reading her favorite book, “The Bright Penguin.” It was about a penguin named Cole who always tried to escape off of planet Ception to find another place to live. She loved the idea of a whole other universe existing somewhere out there far away from planet Ception, as if it was possible.
“Why not?” She would ask her dad at the dinner table. “Why couldn’t there be a whole other world out there? Just look at how many stars there are.”
She always got the same response, about how no life could survive the conditions of the other planets. It did make sense. I mean, how could people live on other planets where the weather is so hot, so close to the sun? They’d melt and all be killed in one solar day? But, somehow Julia still kept wondering.

Julia was joining the eighth grade this year and about to go into her first ever biology class, Honors Biology to be precise. She had met her teacher once during the summer where she spent a lot of her time volunteering around the school. He had skated into the classroom she was cleaning just as she had found a nice ice pick pen in one of the desks. She didn’t see him at first, only heard the door close. She quickly palmed the pen and looked up.
What she saw was kind of strange, even for a girl with such a big imagination as Julia’s. A man, about as tall as a doorway and just as wide, sprouting a beard so big it could have had penguins living in it. He looked like what she would imagine an old government official to look like. And his voice—that was something else you would not expect out of anyone, never mind someone that size.

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

Post by meghanethompson » June 24th, 2014, 6:00 am

Title: The Last Days of Mavornia
Genre: Epic Fantasy
(257 words)

A tiny girl, only eight star cycles old, knelt in the eaves of the Domchaum Temple. All around her, soldiers were pulling men from their homes. Women screamed and clutched for their husbands while holding tight to their sons. Flames from nearby farms slithered toward the village and terror spread from cottage to cottage like a plague. The green-skinned girl who had arrived with the soldiers covered her ears and closed her eyes.

Her brother wasn’t far away. He had forced her to come and told her to wait by the temple because she had been chosen for a special mission. She would set an example for the gray-skinned Istilians who had offended the deity Dia by refusing to submit to the kings of the Eastern Edge of Mavornia.

The little girl couldn’t imagine what she was supposed to do for those strangers. Why had she been chosen for anything? She just wanted to go home and hide under a table.

A few feet to her left, a woman shrieked from inside a dilapidated stone cottage. The girl scrunched into a ball and tried to make herself invisible. A terrible smell of burning penetrated her hood, which all but covered her face. The heat from the fires jousted with the cold night air seeping through her robes.

“Get up!” The girl’s brother stood in front of her, carrying a sack. “Stand here while I talk to the captain, but be ready to move when I tell you.” She nodded and pushed herself against the temple wall towering above her.

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

Post by longknife » June 24th, 2014, 3:34 pm

Title: Leatherjacket Soldier
Genre: Historical Fiction

Lieutenant Rodríguez' servant, a Cochimi convert, went to the stables and turned Brave One out into the corral. He then struggled to place the crown and headband over the horse's ears, frustrated as he reared his head and continually backed away, fighting off the poor man's attempts.

The poor man knew that Brave One would fight, but struggled anyway. He was about to give up, when a gruff voice ordered, “Bridle that beast! If you cannot do it by yourself, get some help.”

The lieutenant stood there in his riding uniform, thumping his thigh with his riding crop, almost but not quite a copy of the baston carried by his father as his sign of rank.

Another vaquero rushed to the firsts aid, followed by a second. It took all three to get the bridle on the horse and it was clear it was most angered by the horrid spade bit in his mouth. It also took all three to saddle the horse, including the curb strop and tie down tight enough to keep Brave One from rearing his head.

Only when the three vaqueros finished did Rodríguez strut to the horse, having one of the soldiers kneel so he could step up to put his foot into the stirrup. He threw his leg over the horse, set his foot in the other stirrup and settled into the saddle – a huge grin of triumph on his chubby face with its ridiculous curled mustache.

The moment he kicked the horse's sides with his cruelly roweled spurs, Brave One erupted. Straight up into the sky, twisting to the left. He landed on his forelegs and then collapsed, trapping the rider's leg beneath him. He then squirmed and finally rose to his feet, snickering at the figure of the human crumpled in the dirt.

The three vaqueros and two soldiers rushed to the lieutenant's aid. He managed to rise to his feet again, face red with fury. “I thought that young snot had him broken,” he roared at no one in particular. “Hold him!” he ordered. He used a soldier as a step to once again mount, this time demanding someone tightly hold the curb strap. Only when he felt he was secure and ready did he order the horse loosed.

Brave One didn't even shiver, snort, or twitch his ears.

Until Rodriguez once again tried to prod him into a walk.

Again, the stallion erupted, leaping high into the sky, twisting and turning.

Although he had ridden horses all of his life, Rodríguez was no match for the whirlwind beneath him. Being tossed to the ground was more than enough for his ego, especially as it happened in front of his subordinates. Picked himself up, he turned to one of the soldiers. “This animal is worthless. Take him somewhere and shoot him.” With that, he turned and stalked off to the house his father had once occupied.
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