NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Posts: 1
Joined: May 16th, 2017, 4:18 pm

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

Post by metalsatsuma12 » May 16th, 2017, 4:35 pm

Title: Pelligri and The Sunflower Master
Genre: Fantasy

First 250 words:

The cliff drew him like a lover. Pelligri whistled; the shrill echo knocked down the chasm causing rocks to crash below into hard stone. His ears rang and his face shone with a grin through wrapping fog. The chittering of night birds gusted back upwards toward him. It felt like home, as if the winds wrapped him in old songs. Warm and inviting him into its depth, desiring to enfold him forever. Part of him wanted to jump in and feel the embrace.

“You act as if you don’t fear the Shadowdeep.” He heard Alastor whisper words, misting the back of his neck.

He startled. Alastor’s stealth no longer shocked him into leaping out of his skin, but it still caught him off guard. Composing himself, he replied, “Afraid? I can’t see anything.”

Alastor released a snort in response, a heady sound as if made from a horse’s nostril. “Blind or not, have sense boy. You know what this place is, rotted darkness on the brightest day.”

“Not that I could tell,” Pelligri sighed. He knew the words were childish, not appropriate for his sixteen years, but with the dejection he felt, they poured out of his mouth like wasted wine.

“That’ll be changed soon and you know it!” Alastor snapped.

Pelligri swallowed. His master’s words stung and he remembered why they’d come. “You don’t have to do this, Master Alastor,” Pelligri pleaded, his voice weighed with guilt.

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Joined: May 16th, 2017, 4:34 pm

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

Post by HMCWrites » May 16th, 2017, 4:44 pm

Genre: Upper MG Thriller with Magical Realism

First 250:
Rosemary shouldered open the heavy steel door and escaped the dull school hallway, slipping into a lemon bright slice of daylight. Heat shimmered in waves above the crispy green-brown lawn, mingling with exhaust from a line of waiting yellow buses. Rose snatched an elastic off her wrist and twisted her thick hair up into a knot, exhaling as a slight breeze cooled her neck and back. She closed her eyes and tilted her face to the sky, letting the sun loosen the tight coils of sadness in her chest and smooth out the waxy hardness in her palms.

She scanned the throng of students as they jostled each other, streaming around her out of Loon Lake Middle School. A group of bottle-flippers clogged traffic at the foot of the pitted concrete stairs, earning themselves both complaints and compliments. A heap of coats and sweaters lay at the edge of the sidewalk, their owners throwing a football.
Rosemary couldn’t remember the name of the girl she was supposed to meet, but she recognized her blonde head bobbing down the sidewalk toward the bus line. She pushed through a clump of violin-carrying 8th graders and hollered.


The girl didn’t respond.

Rose freed herself from the crowd and jogged closer. “I’m here!”

Finally the girl turned around, saw Rose, and smiled. “Oh, hey! I was hoping you wouldn’t forget.”

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Joined: April 23rd, 2017, 4:49 pm
Location: Lisle, IL

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

Post by knowledgeable » May 19th, 2017, 5:55 pm

Title: The Musician
Genre: Literary Fiction
Aaron opened his eyes, but he could only see dark. Small spots of cold—snow—pelted his face. Pain shot though his ribs. He tried to suck in air, but his chest—something pushed on his chest. Huge. Heavy. Immovable.
Am I dying?
How long could I go without breathing before passing out or dying?
A deathly, otherworldly silence enveloped him like an isolation booth.
Where am I?
They had been on the bus, driving through the Berkshire Mountains. The five men were all talking about the gig they had just played in New York when Danny, the driver and their manager, let out a cry. The bus lurched and the next thing Aaron knew, he was tossed in the air, multiple items in the bus flying and hitting him.
He slipped between substance and shadow as recent and older events whirled and tumbled in his mind, just as he and some of the equipment had in the bus. Cele. If only he had known what to do when he realized she wanted an abortion. Maybe he could have gotten there in time to save the baby. If only he had known sooner. Hitching a ride with Danny to get out of Dalhart. bussing tables at the diner. London. Amsterdam.
* * *
On a warm August night in Nashville, 1963, Aaron Cronan arrived at Manchester’s bar. He, Cal, and Cele were the house band until July of that year when Aaron took work at a local studio.

Posts: 1
Joined: April 22nd, 2017, 5:07 pm

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

Post by CFrances » June 1st, 2017, 9:40 am

Title: Bertie, Brave and True
Middle Grades Contemporary

First 250 words

The trouble started when my cousin Humph sat down across from me at our lunch table and wolfed down the first of the three slices of pizza on his plate. “That all you’re eating?” he asked, nodding at my plate.
“I might go back for a cookie,” I said. “Since when do you eat more than a half a slice of pizza? And why do you care what I’m eating?” He and our other friends, Vinh and Nolan, exchanged looks and snickered. I noticed they all had extra food heaped on their plates.
“We’re bulking up,” said Vinh. “That’s what we weight lifters say when we’re trying to put on a few pounds.”
“We’re hardgainers,” said Nolan. He crammed a handful of French fries into his mouth. “All three of us.” He coughed out a fry.
“That means our genes makes it tougher for us to gain muscle mass,” Humph said.
“Oh, your genes are the trouble?” I said. “ And you three body builders figured that out on your second day of working out?”
No one answered me.
“Did you see that guy pyramiding?” Vinh asked.
“Man, that guy was shredded!” said Nolan. The other two agreed, shaking their heads and laughing.
I don’t lift weights. I had nothing more to add to this exchange, and who listens to a conversation when he has nothing to add to it? Nobody, that’s who. Now you see how the trouble started. Hump forced me to look elsewhere for entertainment.

Posts: 3
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 10:08 pm

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

Post by lana_lorett » June 2nd, 2017, 12:40 am

Title: In Work
Genre: YA Sci-fi

Planet Gali

Mila would hack into the academy’s artificial intelligence computer tonight. No second thoughts, though yes, there was some guilt.

She made her way towards the lab complex with a forced blank expression, periodically gazing at the campus grounds, as though admiring the lakes, waterfalls, and ever-changing shades of blues, purples, and reds. The surroundings she once dreamed of seeing five lunar cycles ago now seem irrelevant.

Deciphering the encrypted message someone had sent her on the day of her father’s death was the only thing that mattered now. There had been no clues as to who had sent the message or why, only a note indicating she needed to decrypt it and read it alone.

Simple request. Difficult solution.

The encryption algorithm used was beyond complicated. Only the academy’s AI computer possessed enough power to potentially crack it.

Mila held a deep breath, entered the astrophysics lab and surveyed the area. Empty, as planned, though not for long.

She logged into her computer and loaded her current school assignment, just as she would do on any other night. There could be no suspicion. At least as a new freshman, she’d only been tasked with the restoration of solar system maps, the ones corrupted by recent solar flares. Mundane work at best, though a perfect busy-like disguise for tonight.

Posts: 2
Joined: June 13th, 2017, 12:55 pm

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

Post by amsadeghi » June 13th, 2017, 1:12 pm

Title: The Antarian
Genre: Science Fiction
First 246 words

Saros’ sun burned sky. Light seared edges of buildings, and winked off air vehicles rising and lowering like mouth flies. Mearrin adjusted eyeshields against the glare and peered up into the thick sky, ignoring the press of bodies waiting in a long line.

There was a sound a deep space freighter made when it entered atmosphere that was like no other. A long hiss split the upper atmosphere followed by a deep drone that climbed three octaves and then lowered into a resonant hum. That sound was the closest thing to the Ever After, and Mearrin would give anything to die out there between stars, instead of here.

“Batch ya!” A brutal shove from behind, pushed her into a huge being. Mearrin whirled, the Nephta in her hands.

The shove came from a thick, hairy being with large double eyes, and a snubbed snout that dribbled snot aggravated by dust and heat. It stank of garbage. Normally, Madj were nonaggressive, but they’d been waiting in this work line for half adaynight.

The line brought color and movement to a long yard surrounded by low, battered warehouses. The front of the line began inside a large docking platform for local system transport, and the back ended beyond the open gates into the street. It was hot and dust was high due to air and off ground transports which lifted and settled nonstop in Saros’ spaceport district. Every being in this line was desperate for employment, including her.

Neil Larkins
Posts: 14
Joined: August 17th, 2010, 2:13 pm

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

Post by Neil Larkins » June 14th, 2017, 11:38 am

Author: Neil Larkins
Title: THE LAST TIME YOU FALL - Three Weeks When Love Meant Everything and Acceptance Meant More
Genre: YA, Dual Memoir

...Then the obvious struck me: Write this just as it happened and start here, the Freshman Mixer, the first social event of the fall semester at the two-year liberal arts college I attended.

Friday, September 11, 1964

She hates my guts, that much is obvious. So what's stopped her from slapping my face? She hasn't because...well, you'll see.
It's around nine p.m. I wheel my old car into the brightly-lit parking area next to the college gymnasium. I find a slot and take it. I'd been on campus earlier in the day to register and now am back and not where someone else wants me to be tonight. I'm running away from that guy.
I turn the key. The engine rumble stops and I step out and stand in the open door. To my north is my destination, the Kiva, a multi-use performing arts building styled after Pueblo Indian ceremonial lodges with the same name, only much larger. A nearby street lamp illuminates its adobe-like beige exterior having always made me think it belongs in New Mexico or Arizona but it's here in Southern Colorado.
This is where The Players, the college theater group performs and until a few hours ago I'd been a Player. Now I'm about to go in as a "civilian."
I sigh as I pocket my keys - no one locks their car in this town - and head towards the Kiva. When I get there I pause at the bottom of the staircase leading to the main entry. I don't attend affairs like this. I'm not even a freshman. Okay, it's open to all students but the only reason I'm here now is to take my mind off my troubles and I've plenty. I could do something else, I suppose but after paying tuition earlier and renting new digs, I'm broke. This shindig is free, so...why not? And who knows but that a noisy crowd of people I don't know or care to meet will help shake off these blues.
Enough arguing with myself. I'm here now and head up the concrete steps. Just as I pull open the heavy wooden door several people shoulder past on their way out. I take a quick look and don't know them. "Hi," says one girl but I don't return the greeting. "Newbies" I think and step into the vestibule.
Ahead is another door like the first, the main access to where it's all happening tonight. A muffled jumble of music and crowd noise filters through. Seems to be a lot of fun going on. I grab the door handle. You can still turn around and leave, Neil.
What the heck. I turn the handle.

Posts: 11
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:32 pm

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

Post by Ce3 » June 19th, 2017, 2:49 pm

working title: Choice and Consequence
Genre: Suspense, thriller

There may be more difficult places to find a parking spot in the city but Lucas Jackson could not imagine where. Because he woke up late, had a knock-down drag out with the lovely, sarcastic, and quite irrational Betsy on the front porch of his Long Island home, he was now running behind and sitting at a forever red light in downtown Lower Manhattan. Chewing his bottom lip and thumping his right hand on the steering wheel, a couple of airheads were arguing on sports radio of his near new Mercedes SUV while masses of humanity passed in front of him. He honked and waved his arms like all good New Yorker’s do and a couple of Wall Street types slapped their briefcases against his passenger side doors.
“Hey, what the hell,” he said as the men laughed and offered the one finger salute. “Go on,” Lucas added. “Go work in your tiny cubicle with no window. You losers!”
The word ‘losers’ altered his anger to dread, thinking of the secretive payload he was carrying. Now his brain felt like it was on speed, his thumping heart rate shaking his entire body. A glance at his watch stirred a flash of panic and he swerved into a Handicap spot ignoring the bellowing horns as he affixed the counterfeit disability placard to the mirror, climbed out, and flipped his Newport to the curb, before opening the back hatch where two supersize titanium roller suitcases sat. These giant secure bags cost his employer over two grand each and felt like they were filled with lead. He gave them a solid jerk and they dropped to the ground. He grabbed their handles and looked up to admire his destination, the 55th floor of the stunning new Freedom Tower at the exact moment everything in life changed. Again.

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Joined: July 19th, 2018, 12:59 pm

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

Post by DanaRoseBailey » July 19th, 2018, 1:02 pm

Short Story/Fiction
255 words (sorry, if I cut the last 5 it wouldn't make sense).

Working title: The Caravan
Corey didn’t want to leave, but, since his mother had already agreed, he was sure the General would leave him behind if he didn’t get in the ugly rusted out Hummer, so he did what he was told.
From the back seat, he watched as they passed the empty playground, the swings moving back and forth in the wind of the first morning light. For a moment he thought about Gill and Christy. They used to swing so high he thought any moment they’d swing in a full circle and end up wrapped around the pole. They had spoken up, but no one had listened. He hadn’t seen them in six years.
"We'll be safe soon," his mother said in her mousy voice. Everything about her was mousy from her size and coloring to her skittishness.
The General gave a dismissive laugh with his reply, "We're already safe." He went on about how great things would be once they arrived at the Grove, repeating the same tales he’d told them at the office and over dinner in Corey and his mother’s one room apartment. As he spoke in his loud commanding tone, his presence and voice filled the car, almost drowning out the sound of the gates closing.
“So see, there’s no need to worry,” The General said. But to Corey, the sound of the locks being put in place once the gate closed and the sight of the old city crumbling to ruins outside the wall told more truth than the General ever could.

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