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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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 1:12 am

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

Post by bsebalfan1 » June 10th, 2010, 1:30 am

Genre: Paranormal Literary Fiction
Word Count: 244

He quit his job at the high school amid rumors that his wife was sleeping with the history teacher. The divorce was painful but quick, and in the aftermath, he no longer passed the cemetery house on his way to work. He didn’t notice when the oak tree died or the windows broke or the porch collapsed, but he was aware of the house in his mind and the fantasy of restoring it drove him to buying his first project: the small brick house he now called home.

His name was Colt, and he was forty five. He wore the same tattered baseball hat and blue jeans all week. His sun-weathered face matched his faded boots, and he owned four shirts. But only one of them had buttons and it was still folded neatly around the department store pins tucked away in a drawer with a yellow necktie that had never been worn.

He lived alone except for a goldfish named Finchie, and he lived on the edge of a small town called Providence near the Rocky Mountains. His house was old, but the brick was sturdy and the years had been kind. The grout was clean and white, the shingled roof was new, and the windows were double-paned and efficient. His lawn was green and tightly edged around the sidewalk. A wide front porch curtained the living room windows, and the entrance, made of rich swirling mahogany, was behind a white screen door.

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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 1:49 am

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

Post by Margarettyson » June 10th, 2010, 1:54 am

Witness Protection

Phillips had nearly left it too late to get out. George Horton’s absence had left him paralysed, indecisive, hesitant. How far did duty stretch? Surely Garibaldi’s thugs couldn’t get to Horton today, with half the state on fire.

Not that he had any warm feelings for George Horton. He was a whiney, cowardly, nasty, little weasel, as far as Phillips was concerned. But the little creep had made a deal: he was going to hand them Tony Garibaldi; and that was such a big prize that Horton would be forgiven almost anything.

The bridge had been on fire as he drove out of Harborough, and those five kilometres through the burning forest would remain etched into his memory for all time. The main fire front had passed by the time he got there, but he had to grip the steering wheel against the roaring wind, and the tops of the trees were still dropping showers of golden embers through the swirling grey smoke.

The diffused gleam from his headlights showed nothing of the surrounding devastation. Eyes fixed on the white line, Phillips clenched his jaw and just drove, hoping that the road ahead would remain unblocked. Twice he had to drive around dead kangaroos.

Through the screaming of the wind outside, he could hear Jon Faine’s voice on the car radio, dripping with sincerity and sympathy, telling him that Harborough was now being “directly impacted” by fire. Yep, that was an ember attack outside his car, no sweat. Phillips dared not turn off the ABC. It was the only source of information he had, and he needed to know that he could still get through.

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Regan Leigh
Posts: 207
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Regan Leigh » June 10th, 2010, 2:10 am

Title: Mallory
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

“Rise and shine, pretty boy!” I shout at him, but he doesn’t respond. Of course not. Almost two months have passed and I’m still dead.

Evan rolls over with a sigh and slaps in the wrong direction for the alarm. I suppress a smile, as if he could see my expression. He stumbles out of bed yawning and stretching. His boxers make a tent and I laugh, feeling awkward as usual.

I follow him into the bathroom, but spin to face the wall when he strips off his plaid underwear and steps into the shower. The hooks clink across the shower rod and I turn back around to wait. Evan has been naked in front of me before, but it always felt too invasive. I choose to look away whenever possible now.

It takes a minute, but soon his ritual morning sounds begin. Evan busts out a few notes that are too sparse to make a real melody, a gruff bird lacking a tune. I chime in with him and try to morph it into a song. Really, he’d be surprised at how good we are at this.

His shower lasts longer than normal, or maybe it just feels that way to me. Time is a funny thing to judge when it’s all you have. All you have, and yet you still tend to lose track of it.
Last edited by Regan Leigh on September 3rd, 2010, 10:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Posts: 31
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 2:26 am
Location: Australia

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

Post by SariBelle » June 10th, 2010, 2:31 am

Title: Dragon's Blood
Genre: YA Fantasy

The day my mother died was the day I was born. She didn’t die in childbirth, as people were led to believe, she was murdered.

September 5th 1991 at 5:13pm, the contractions started. Gran tells me we were rushed to hospital through a cold drizzle, the windows fogging up as my mother huffed and puffed in the back seat. After 6 hours of ear splitting, hair raising labour, I arrived, small and red and screaming into the world. Gran doesn’t gloss over facts.

There were no complications; mother and baby were fit and healthy. I roared as my lungs filled with air for the first time, but gradually settled into a drooling contemplation of my new surroundings. I was oohed and aahed over, and briefly we were left alone, my mother and I.

They say before the age of three you have no memories, but I do remember this: as I lay there, making soft gurgling noises and staring up at my mother’s dazed, glowing face, Darkness entered the room. He was no more than a shadow, stealth incarnate, wrapped in a cape so dark it ate the light around him. His tall, slender body was coiled in a predators crouch at the edge of the sterile hospital room. He slunk forward on silent feet, pausing at the side of the bed to take stock of his target. He wasn’t a part of this world, no one could see him, no one was aware of his presence: except me.
Last edited by SariBelle on July 20th, 2010, 2:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

Maureen Anne
Posts: 3
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Maureen Anne » June 10th, 2010, 3:36 am

The Witch's Inn
Contemporary Fiction


The telephone rang, awakening me from a deep Valium-induced stupor. A disembodied voice said, ‘the Inn’s on fire’, and then the line went dead. The clock read 3:00 - the witching hour. I grabbed my dog. Still wearing pyjamas and slippers I jumped into my red Cherokee Jeep, and drove to The Witch’s Inn.

Dense smoke rose like a mushroom cloud, leaving the Inn and the throng of spectators lost in its residue. I was attempting to hurl myself onto the roof of my Jeep when a gentle push as if from the hand of an angel propelled me upwards and set me at my destination.

Levitation - it was the only possible explanation.

Flames leapt around the remains of The Witch’s Inn, smoke billowed from heat-shattered windows and smouldering embers littered the landscape. It was the most ruinous scene I had ever had the misfortune to witness.

My eyes smarted, my nose twitched and taste buds withered on my tongue - Camelot extinguished.

As if a director had called ‘lights, camera, action’ a police officer came into view and blew hard into his silver-lipped whistle.

“Move back, move back! Stay behind the tape!”

Fire fighters carried out human and animal forms; some lay on stretchers, some hung like rag-dolls from the arms of their saviours. Others were zipped into shiny black body bags.

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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 4:24 am

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

Post by LevP65 » June 10th, 2010, 4:28 am

Title: Funny Old World
Genre: Children's Fantasy Adventure (Age range: 8-12)

Imagine a brick wall.
It is down a dusty lane, just beyond the fourth roundabout, on the edge of the town called Timbukthree, not far from where you live.
It is long and tall, and curves away from you so that you want to follow it round the corner and see what is there. So you do, and before you know it you have followed it all the way round and are back where you started.
As you walk round it you notice two things. If you’re clever, that is. And you are.
The first thing is obvious: there are a lot of handles in the wall. When I say a lot, I mean hundreds. Don’t bother counting them. You could count them for a week and never get to the end.
The second thing is less obvious. As I say, you have to be clever to notice it.
It is this: even though there are squadrillions of handles in that long tall brick wall, there are no doors at all. Not one.
So how do you get to the other side of the wall? And what would you find if you did? Does anyone live there? Who? What is the capital of Peru?
Those are all very good questions, and I’ll give you all the answers in due course. But first we’re going to meet a remarkable donkey.
Oh, by the way, the capital of Peru is Lima.

Word count: 239

Rebecca Hawkins
Posts: 1
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 4:14 am

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

Post by Rebecca Hawkins » June 10th, 2010, 4:29 am

Rebecca Hawkins
Title: Soul-Broken
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Across an ancient pole of twinkling ore hung a banner of what had once been a man, a great hero lost in the Dark Past. It was one of many such relics of war, victories and people of import riddling the Blue Fire’s temple walls. The inking on the dark skin was now barely visible, whatever power had once invested it was long dormant. Below it, upon a chair of ancient bones, the skulls of her predecessors crowning the headrest in morbid glory, lounged the High Priestess, the Reavian. From beneath heavy, rune painted lids her icy eyes studied the crippled Karidim. The Karidim’s bare feet tinkled with small, ornate chains as he limped back and forth on the cold stone floor before her.

His gaze was locked upon a distant body hidden under a shroud of mist, where the Reavian had had no time to conceal it from her sudden visitor. She was aware that the Karidim knew the ‘laying’ was a healing process that only she had the power to use in such strength.

‘He must be important to you, Reavian?’

‘A person of interest only.’

‘Interest in what?’

The Reavian licked her lips. ‘I’m sure you didn’t drop in for small talk, soul-mover.’ It was a long moment before the Karidim looked away from the man.

‘True. I came to discuss my recent offer.’

She flicked her hand above her head. ‘Take it,’ she smiled, her sharpened teeth gleaming. ‘Go on, take the Blood Banner if you dare, if you can, because that’s the only way.'
Last edited by Rebecca Hawkins on October 23rd, 2010, 5:49 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 2:04 am

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

Post by Anobile1 » June 10th, 2010, 7:02 am

Title: Personal Artificial Pet (working title)
Genre: Borderline YA / Speculative Science Fantasy

Chapter 1

Yora curled her fingers around the brakes and set her foot down on the newly rain-washed pavement. The little dragon sitting between the handles rocked gently as she stopped. Taking advantage of the red traffic light, he stretched out his opaque electric-blue wings and gave them a couple of good shakes. Yora leaned away from him, though there really wasn't any reason to. Leifen was usually quite careful about not splashing her, but either way it would only be adding a drop to a pond. She didn't mind being wet though; rain was one of the reasons she loved Oregon.

Leifen glanced back at her, noticing her reaction. “Sorry, did I splash you?” he asked.

The light turned green and she motioned for Leifen to strengthen his grip before peddling across the intersection. “Don't worry about it,” she said once she was safely cruising in the bike lane, “I'm already soaked.”

“That doesn't mean it's OK for me to make you more wet.”

“Come on, you know I like being wet.”

“Just as long as I really didn't bother you.”

“You didn't, really.”

He nodded and looked forward again. They passed a black wolf with crimson feathered wings relaxing in someone's yard; Leifen waved a wing while Yora gave it a friendly nod. The wolf nodded back, deeper and with obvious respect.

That was something she'd always loved about ALOs: they always respected you.
Last edited by Anobile1 on October 3rd, 2010, 8:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
My Blog: (Most recent post: Inspiration Patterns and an Old Friend)

Posts: 28
Joined: April 12th, 2010, 10:53 pm

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

Post by Wolfe3141 » June 10th, 2010, 9:33 am

Title: Empty
Genre: Science Fiction

Sarah watched her mother walk past her door as she finished making her mattress with the cleanest sheets in the apartment. As she tucked in the last corner, her hand brushed against one of the three bottles of vodka she had hidden there. She stood up and looked around her room to make sure her few possessions were put away. Her mother passed her room again and headed towards the kitchen this time.

She was lucky to have gotten all three bottles from the party that weekend before anyone had opened them. The party-goers were so wasted they didn't notice the hard liquor was gone.

I hate it when mom drinks. She becomes a raging loon. Sara opened her bedroom door all the way and peered out. Is mom going out to work so early? She stepped out into the hallway and watched her mother’s activities.

Her mother searched the different bottles of beer scattered throughout the apartment. She got angrier by the minute as each one she checked came up empty. Sarah feared bringing attention to herself. She tried to stay as silent as the cockroaches that lived in the walls. If she moved there would be a greater chance of her mother becoming aware of her presence.

She watched her mother pick through piles of trash, unwashed dishes, and dirty clothes left over from the weekend party. Her mother's obsessive pursuit of alcohol provided further frustrations when she slipped on an empty drug bag and landed in a pool of vomit.
Last edited by Wolfe3141 on June 10th, 2010, 11:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 9:39 am

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

Post by Zoober » June 10th, 2010, 9:49 am

Title: Nightmare Island
Genre: MG/YA Science Fiction/Horror

Chapter 1/2

Summer 1998
The sky turned dark as the bonfire crackled.

The old man walked to the center of the campfire circle. He steadied himself after each move. Step – step – drag… step – step - drag… Tangled white hair stuck to his neck. He licked his hands and slicked the crusted strands behind his ears. Whiskers covered his cheeks and chin. A fishy body odor mixed with the fire smoke.

Summer campers of Camp Algonquian sat in rows about the pit’s glow. Knees tucked up to their chins.

“Lads and young lasses, ” said the old man as he leaned forward on a stick cane. “The story I am about to share may be one you have heard. You may believe. The man took a deep breath, "Or perhaps, not. Then, lowered his voice to a low, scratchy whisper, “This is my story.”

The old man pointed out across the waters of the Palmico Sound, “Listen, you can hear the waves on the far away islands.” The campers stretched and cupped their hands behind their ears.

“I was just seventeen when I first came to these waters, almost 60 years ago.” The man stooped to the ground and scratched into the dirt. The campers stretched to see. He pushed up with his cane and faced the front row.

“The earth and this shoreline are much different now. The hurricanes changed that. "

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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 10:20 am

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

Post by sharonedge » June 10th, 2010, 10:24 am

Title: Stormy
Genre: Early Middle Grade Fantasy
245 words

I balanced my super duper Ben Franklin lightning rod above my head. I made it myself, just in time for the fall storms. It was twisted together with steel and copper and other stuff from my tool shed. Today was the perfect day to set it up. A wall of black clouds ringed the sky.
“Don’t leave this yard, Stormy,” Mom yelled. “If you hear the siren, meet me at the cellar door.”
Mom always said that on cloudy days. We live in Tornado Alley. That’s what the weather people call this stretch of Oklahoma. I’ve been living here my whole life, ten years, and I’ve never seen a tornado. That doesn’t stop Mom from worrying, though.
Maybe it’s because a tornado blew the roof off the courthouse on the day I was born. That’s how I got my name. It might be the last twister Warfield will ever see. But lightning’s a problem. It strikes a lot.
Rain pelted me as I put my lightning rod down by the door of the shed. Ringer, my Boston terrier, almost tripped me trying to get inside. He hates rain as much as he hates a bath.
The raindrops sounded like drumsticks banging on the metal roof. I squatted on the floor to think. How deep should I dig the hole? I measured the bucket of gravel I’d been saving for this job. Five hands tall. At least digging would be easier if the dirt got wet.

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Joined: December 7th, 2009, 12:22 pm

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

Post by Ermo » June 10th, 2010, 10:28 am

Genre: Literary Fiction

Tim Woodman hurried down the inside hallway of his condo building. Careful not to let his quick-step walking turn into a full-fledged run, Tim hoped to disguise his worst intentions from his neighbors. A scolding is what she'll get even though a beating is what she deserves. Children... pfft. Careless, selfish, senseless creatures. Now out of sight, he bounded down the interior stairs two at a time chasing the quick pitter-patter of the feet ahead of him. The child’s shadow slipped into the 1A condo just as Tim reached the first floor landing. Tim delivered a couple of heavy knocks on the six-panel door. A thin, wispy woman wearing an over-sized sweatshirt tied around her waist and a little girl around her leg opened the door.

“I need to speak with your daughter, “ Tim said before the door was fully open.

“What’s the problem Mr. Woodman?”

“This is not a problem that involves you. Please let me speak to your daughter.”

“If it’s my daughter, it involves me. She’s nine,” the woman said.

“I saw your daughter rifling through my garbage. She ran before I could confront her. I don’t want her handling my personal property and I want her to give back whatever it is she took. See, this is what happens when children, little… senseless children are allowed to run free to…”

“Enid,“ the woman said. “Did you touch Mr. Woodman’s garbage?”

Enid shook her head no.

“She lies! She lies like a prostitute to St. Peter!”

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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 9:58 am

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

Post by Ernestine » June 10th, 2010, 10:33 am

Title: Ernest P. Quick and The Legend of the Lost Boy
Genre: Middle Grade Science fiction

Rows of text scrolled across a computer monitor - the only light in the laboratory. The glow hung paralyzed. Green. Stale.

Hey there. You listening? This is Ernest P. Quick. Let’s get the jokes over-peeing quick is always better than peeing slow. Now, listen once, that’s all the time I got.

Something bad is happening. Can’t get into it all yet. This report posting will hopefully gain the attention of the media or FBI before too late for me.

I survived to age twelve. I pray that I live to see thirteen. I beg that you are not some creepy stalker and, if you are, I order you to stop downloading, scrolling, reading or whatever, NOW. And, you better not --

A dark haze fell across the monitor. “Bye bye, little boy,” Thornton whispered. The screen flashed off as his foul smelling laugh echoed through the blackened room. “One, two, three, no daddy will love Ernie.”

Thorn licked across the points on his teeth. He could not hear or see Ernest but, thinking of him brought a tingle to his tongue. Pictures inside his head tasted tangy.

Flashlight in hand, Thorn searched the laboratory. The layout looked similar as he remembered: tall shelves, stacks of medical journals from early 1900s, glass jars with body organs, one DO NOT TOUCH mahogany desk, and the narrow steel examination table.

Chuck H.
Posts: 6
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 10:44 am

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

Post by Chuck H. » June 10th, 2010, 10:38 am

Okay, here it is. No more procrastinating.

TITLE: Old Farts
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
Word Count: 250
Chapter One

“Have you ever killed anyone?”
I thought about that one for a while as I contemplated my companion who was staring out across the valley. Joe was about my age—somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty—compact, wiry with a full head of gray hair speckled here and there with dark spots. I thought to myself that, with his dark complexion and that nose, he must have had some Indian ancestry. Excuse me, Native American. Evidently my contemplation had gone on too long.
“Well, have you?”
It was a simple question but not so easy to answer. I had been involved, peripherally at least, in a war. I had worn the uniform and, technically, I had been in a war zone. However, I hadn’t carried a weapon or shot at people. But I had made it possible for others to bomb hell out of folks on the ground and shoot down folks in the air. Then there was that gig as a company man after the war. Had I ever killed anyone? I lied.
Joe turned to stare at me for a moment then directed his attention back to the million dollar view from my front porch.
“Me neither.”
We sat for a while in silence. I was trying to decide whether or not I should call him a liar. God only knows what he was thinking. I finally made up my mind to confront him.
“I always thought that you were . . .”
“I lied.”

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

Post by SarahW » June 10th, 2010, 10:57 am

Title: The Pigeon Drop
Genre: Mystery

The young man caught Judith's attention the moment he entered the library.

It wasn't just the way his gaze skittered away from hers, never landing on anything for more than a split second, or the way he huddled inside his long black duster, which was far too heavy for July. That described most of the high school students who schlepped in every afternoon to hang around the manga. Nice kids, most of them.
But this young man was older, with dry, mumbling lips in a jaundiced face. And while his left hand clenched and jittered at his side, his right stayed in his coat pocket, steady as a rock.

It could be his favorite crack pipe. But Judith didn’t think so.

Unfortunately, she was trapped by a patron who wasn't going to stop asking the same question until she received the exact answer she wanted. Judith watched the young man with peripheral vision until he disappeared into the mysteries.

Judith frowned. The original layout of this floor--perfectly acceptable a century ago, when most behavior problems could be controlled with a glare and a finger to one's lips—was a security nightmare unrelieved by the single camera aimed at the cash register at the circulation desk. But adding more cameras cost money, and any reorganization of the massive mahogany bookcases would have to wait until the carpet was finally replaced. The Board was reluctant to authorize either "without real reason."

Judith hoped the young man wouldn't provide one.


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