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: 2
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 9:52 pm

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

Post by KatieBry » August 1st, 2019, 5:09 pm

I'll Marry You In Dog Years
Genre: Rom/com

Instead of accepting the date that was probably going to ruin my life, I should have run a singles ad. Or just run. Like to another state. Anyway, my ad would probably be snarky because dating is pretty much the last thing I’m looking at right now.

But if I did run an ad, I’d keep it short and to the point. Like:

I have no idea what my spirit animal is, but it’s probably a drunk penguin binge watching Netflix while scarfing down tacos. If we do actually date, please understand I’m mostly there for the tacos. Probably I’d love tacos more than I’d love you. As in, I’m the kind of person that if I’d been held captive underground for 67 years and finally escaped, the first thing I’d do is bypass my family to find the mothership of taco trucks and stand there for hours shoveling tacos into my face. So, tacos, yes. You, maybe. Note; just because I’m Italian doesn’t mean I have hairier legs than a highland cow. Also, I have no idea where Zanzibar is.

But I didn’t run a singles ad, I did accept the date, and while I couldn’t commit murder in real life, I could foreshadow it in my script. Yes, I write screenplays for a living and, because I love my family, I also work for my parents in the hospitality industry. It’s a toss-up as to what job I hate more.

Posts: 3
Joined: August 18th, 2019, 8:01 pm

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

Post by Axolotl » August 18th, 2019, 8:21 pm

Title: Discover
Genre: YA Fantasy

Astral was one tail-flick past the boundary, one metre beyond safety. By now most Mers would have drifted into the rooms they were meant to be in, and only rushing servants and nobles too proud to bolt would remain in the Castle’s sprawling corridors. He listened for the sounds of guards: the scrape of weapons against fish-hide and metal, a bored laugh, the swoosh of their assured tail sweeps. It was either sound that could alert him or the invisible, silent messages Mers created when they swam and moved the water. More accurate, but it did not allow him to ‘see’ as far as sound permitted.

Haughty muttering sounded out two passageways behind him, accompanied with aggressive sweeps of a membrane-ridged tail. They must be a Royal; only they could manage to curse through their gills and still retain that precise air of superiority. What are you doing out so late? He swam to one side and pressed himself against the chilled marble surface of the Castle’s halls, shivering when the cold bit into his skin. Even with a layered jacket and floors heated by magma tunnels, the chill of winter still numbed him.

Astral placed one of his two sensors, a long and skinny strand of muscle ending in a leaf-like shape that grew from the side of his tail, on the corner so it could sense the nearly imperceptible movements of the water made by the approaching Mer.

Posts: 31
Joined: January 9th, 2010, 9:03 pm

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

Post by lac582 » September 7th, 2019, 5:11 pm

Title: The Conjurers
Genre: Sci-Fi

Reggie Kaplan had finally gotten her son down for a nap not ten minutes earlier and was eight clues deep into the daily crossword when the inspectors knocked. Same as always--three booms with the fist followed by a cheery knuckle rap--a command glossed with entreaty. She expelled a string of expletives that would have made her husband and his shipyard buddies blush and thudded her makeshift lunch (a bowl of mini-wheats, not even frosted) down on the table as she rose. Twisted the deadlock, and pulled the door open until the chain was as taut as her lips. “Elijah is sleeping,” she whispered past an upheld finger.

Shut, slide, unhook, pull. Professor Kahn and his student wedged past Reggie into the kitchen, as the university-provided apartment was too modest for a real entryway. They had full view of stacks of crusted dishes and clouded, oversoaked sippy cups. Pointedly, she did not make apologies for the mess. They should be glad she was dressed, thanks to an earlier jaunt to the playground and the fact that she had to do a shift at the bio-baths in a couple of hours.

“It hasn’t even been two weeks,” she noted, spooning another quick mouthful of cereal. “Can’t you make your random, unannounced visits a little more convenient to my schedule?” The professor granted her a middling smile and conciliatory shrug. “You’re home. We’ll do our best to be quiet.”

In truth, Reggie got along with Naveed Kahn just fine.

Posts: 1
Joined: September 12th, 2019, 2:38 pm

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

Post by josepheshaw » September 12th, 2019, 2:41 pm

Title: Two More
Genre: Fantasy

Jim Becker spent the final moments of the second-to-last day of his life on a stool at The Friendly Stop Bar & Grille. He was drunk, and he spoke loud to no one in particular.

“The last thing I need,” he said, “is another woman.”

Sean, The Friendly Stop’s bartender, had already locked the door, wiped down the tables, and put up the chairs for the night. He looked at Jim and checked his watch. With anyone else, he’d have gone to his You Don’t Have To Ho Home, But You Can’t Stay Here routine, but Jim was a regular, and you don’t do that to regulars. That was rule #1 in the Universal Bartender’s Guide to Making Money and Staying Employed. Rule #2 was “Don’t sleep with your customers, or you’ll lose all that money you just made.” Sean, having been a stickler for both of those rules over the years, had built quite a successful career as a result.

“How’s about we call it a night?” Sean said. “We can pick up where we left off tomorrow.”

“Just one more?” Jim asked.

They stared at each other, two nearly middle aged men with hints of grey peeking out at their temples. Sean liked Jim. He never caused trouble, always tipped well, and, most importantly, had an infectious humor that helped spread a proclivity for fiduciary friendliness to those around him.

Natasha Rocha
Posts: 1
Joined: September 12th, 2019, 4:29 pm

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

Post by Natasha Rocha » September 12th, 2019, 4:42 pm

Name of Novel : Storms of Change, the Legend of Dido
Genre: Historical Fiction - Phoenicia 820BC

The cerulean blue waters lapped the hull of The Dido while tired oarsman pushed her badly damaged, creaking and moaning body into the lagoon. The waters were clear and bright and they licked the sandy flat beaches that sparkled with promise. The coastline was covered in dense, rich green vegetation populated with screaming monkeys and numerous colorful birds; it was like a paradise island. I raised my eyes to see a hill, its peak hidden behind a veil of mist. Like a bride waiting to be revealed.
I could not believe that we survived, well some of us at least, for the gods had indeed claimed their sacrifices during the dreadful night before. I walked around the deck, it was scattered with debris and injured bodies. I looked to see where I could assist. A priest was tending to the broken leg of a young man. The tibia had torn through the flesh and was protruding from his shin. The lad was pale; trying to show a brave face, but when the priest forced it back into position his agonizing cry could not be contained and mercifully passed out. For the remainder of the crew, injuries were numerous but fortunately, none were fatal; some had broken fingers, bleeding gashes that could be mended, bumps and bruising, sadly others were sitting quietly crying for their lost ones. I tried to console them. When I had seen to everyone, I walked to the bow and stood there with my torn and tattered dress flapping softly against my legs whilst taking in the site of the beautiful land before me.

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Joined: September 12th, 2019, 6:18 pm

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

Post by jfriar » September 12th, 2019, 6:39 pm

Title: The Journals of L'Ours Blanc
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy

I wandered alone in a wilderness of ice and snow. A vast white plain stretched out on all sides, interrupted only by vague mounds in the distance, white on white, a boundless disheveled bed sheet offering no comfort, nor sanctuary.

I cried out, “Mother! Father!”

No voice responded, not even an echo for company. I was doing my best to be brave, but the day was fast waning, bringing a brisk freezing wind. Light snowfall had turned into a curtain of thick flakes that reduced visibility, creating a confined sense of aloneness. Aloneness accompanied and amplified by a foreboding that rose from the unseen, the unknown.

I attempted to return to camp by following my outbound trail. Anxiety mounted and hope sank as I saw my boot prints filled by falling snow, leaving no path as a guide, no way home.

I was so tired, lifting my legs as if out of thick mud, each step more lethargic. My stride shortened to a stumble as my ebbing energy drained into the frozen ground. I stopped, eyelids fluttered, closed. I swayed, sat, wanting to rest, to lie on the soft comforter, to sleep…

But I couldn’t. I had to keep going. Even at twelve years old, I knew to stop was to die.

I forced my eyelids open, stood and looked around to orient myself, seeking any sign to indicate one direction being better than another.

A shift in the wind revealed a shape moving in the distance ahead of me. Blurred through the veil of blowing snow the figured reared and, in one unobstructed moment, indistinct contours resolved into a long and massive torso with thick limbs, a large ovoid head. Some rough beast, tall and pale.

Posts: 2
Joined: September 12th, 2019, 7:41 pm

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

Post by MCM » September 12th, 2019, 9:25 pm

Title: Shadow Relics
Genre: YA Fantasy

Alec’s gut clenched. Challenging a two-hundred-pound jaguar to single combat wasn’t the worst idea he’d ever had. But the jaguar was his uncle, and this terrified him. He suppressed his reservations, determined to prove himself, and strode into the vaults beneath the mansion.

The silence entombed him, deafening and absolute, like every one of his uncle’s rules. He wasn’t surprised to find him kneeling amid candles, his eyes closed in meditation as his morning routine demanded.

Alec frowned. The man in front of him wasn’t only his uncle and mentor, but also his personal jailer. Lawrence was as rigid as a concrete edifice, and Alec was sick of bashing his head against his walls. He inhaled, dankness clinging to his throat, and his uncle’s lips twitched in response.

“I don’t have to remind you, yet again, that the tryouts are dangerous,” Lawrence said, eyes unopened. “You could die if your shapeshifting powers are discovered.”

Alec sighed. No, he didn’t have to be reminded. But nothing his uncle said, nothing anyone said, would change his mind. He was seventeen now, eligible to compete in the tryouts for the Warreth Tournaments. It was Condle’s biggest event of the year, and he had been dreaming of qualifying for his school’s team since childhood. He wouldn’t let anything deter him from entering.

“I can control my powers,” Alec said.

His uncle’s silver eyes opened, two full moons shining from bottomless pits. Curling his toes and rocking back on his heels, he stood. “Show me.”

Kevin Kwasa
Posts: 1
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 3:07 am

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

Post by Kevin Kwasa » September 13th, 2019, 3:14 am

Working TItle: The Book of Kaya

Genre: Fantasy/African Modern Folklore

A resident's biggest joy is to name the local kiosk. Huma estate deep in Nairobi West is no different. And at the corner of Twiga Lane and Gadaffi Street dwelt quite an extraordinary kiosk.

If you grew up on Twiga you would know its name. If you moved in at any age you would come to know it eventually. It was not just a structure of wood and nails. No, it was much more. Everyone on Twiga and Gadaffi would come to know this.

And everyone on Twiga and Gadaffi knew the shopkeeper.

He kept the shop well. He had been there for so long no one could really tell his age anymore. He was there early in the morning till late at night, lurking in the thick darkness of this mysterious hollow. Talking to occasional visitors from within the dark recess of the kiosk. His face was barely visible, seemingly only drizzled with light. Definitely male, and always vaguely familiar. His face would triger transient connections to memories in your mind and an impression of a familiarity as intangible as smoke.

He did not sell anything special. A packet of milk, some margarine. A few shifty boxes of condoms and an array of pastry-like snacks of all shapes and sizes, hard and soft, shapeless, abstract and untested, like Maasai's presence.

There WAS a rumour that made Twiga and Gaddaffi alive to this strange being living amongst them. It did not spread as far as it should have, as happens to all absurd and abnormal ideas.

Posts: 8
Joined: August 16th, 2019, 7:08 pm

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

Post by Roger » September 16th, 2019, 7:49 pm

Page Critique

Title: The Witches of Eastlaund Forest

Genre: Medieval Adult Fantasy Novelette

Words: 250

I am Madoc. A name given me by Darnald, the man who raised me though he claimed no kinship. Our village, Clovenshire,  stood neglected on the eastern edge of the kingdom. Few who called it home could name the king or cared to whom they owed obedience. We lived in a fine cottage with two spacious rooms and a wood floor. Despite personal fortune, Darnald did nothing to hide a disdain for the people or place. As a result, tongues wagged and rumors savaged the man who neither tended animals nor tilled the earth. Minds changed on a spring day in my ninth year. 

Though many years past, the events never stray far from my thoughts. Near the end of its daily trek the sun paused, as it has for millennia, over Eastlaund Forest. Four armed men approached from the west, their long shadows cast a pall over the village. Peasants up before sunrise to sow seed retreated to mud thatched homes or watched at a distance. After estimating the worth of the villagers, the men split into pairs. Two headed in our direction, one a giant, his arms thick as the limbs of an ancient oak. Hobbled by an uneven gait, he planted the butt of a heavy spear with each step. The second dragged a broadsword across rocky ground and smiled like a man arrived to court a pretty woman. Jon Dore and his child bride, Felice, ran to their tiny hut. The men at their heels.
Last edited by Roger on October 12th, 2019, 9:38 am, edited 7 times in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: September 19th, 2019, 3:32 pm

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

Post by winreed » September 19th, 2019, 5:06 pm

Last edited by winreed on October 30th, 2019, 10:55 am, edited 5 times in total.

Posts: 3
Joined: August 26th, 2014, 9:18 pm

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

Post by vldixon » September 19th, 2019, 6:11 pm


Chapter 1

Inside the Peach Orchard Inn, Lord Liu Jie expected to be murdered. He appreciated that he had a choice in how it might happen.
As to why it might happen, he reread the imperial notice posted behind the bar:
"The Son of Heaven requires the aid of all men as sons might come to their father. Yellow Turban rebels assault the people and threaten the capital. All districts report." A crimson imperial chop blazed in a corner.
He and his family had traveled for months and thousands of li to avoid this exact situation. He'd hoped to advise Emperor Xian, his nephew. Xian listened to corrupt officials. Everyone knew it. If Jie could convince the emperor to abandon his tax plan, people need not starve. Too late. They'd stopped at this inn and found the notice.
In a single moment, his mission had changed from one of protecting the people, to attacking them.
I've got over twenty men from home, plus Tong Zhang. Zhang is worth ten fighters, but still, it's not enough. If Jie did not recruit extra men to answer his emperor's call, he doomed himself, Zhang and men he'd known for years.
And if I recruit?
He looked over the inn's packed lower level. There were at least two hundred men to persuad. They needed the right incentive.
He sweated, considering his options. If they find out I daydream conversations with my dead children, they'll kill me.

Posts: 15
Joined: September 23rd, 2019, 3:02 pm
Location: Bangladesh, for now

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

Post by Princesisto » September 23rd, 2019, 10:36 pm


She was not there.
She had gone to sleep singing. She was singing her own songs with words that sometimes went together and sometimes didn’t. Now, when I passed by her bedroom, I heard nothing. I thought I would open the door and see her sleeping in a ray of moonlight.
I opened the bedroom door, turned the lights on and no one was there. I called her. No one answered. The window was open. Her room was on first floor, upstairs.
I looked out the window. I saw only darkness pierced by moonlight. Not even the shadow of a child.
I panicked. I ran downstairs with a torch.
“Jen, Jen!” I said to her nanny, “Where is she? I cannot find her! She’s disappeared! Did you see Mary E?”
“No, Sal, I thought she was sleeping,” said Jen.
“Aye and she was. But not now. Now she’s just gone. You didn’t see her come down?”
“No. My God, what do you think happened?” asked Jen.
“Right now, I’m not thinkin’. I’m lookin’. Come with me. Help me!”
We went out to the front garden, shining the torch on the outside of the house to see if she was trying to come down, if she’d got out the window. We looked in the garden under every bush. We were running up and down Yeoford Drive like madwomen, calling her name. We saw darkness here, moonlight there, heard silence everywhere: but no toddlers.
Last edited by Princesisto on October 10th, 2019, 12:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: September 26th, 2019, 4:47 pm

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

Post by chelsthebels » September 26th, 2019, 8:11 pm

Untitled YA sci-fi
By Chelsea Walker

He stood, unmoving in the shadows beyond the doorway. His eyes darted back and forth between the two occupants of the room. He licked his lips nervously, tasting the salt of his sweat. It beaded on his face and threatened to drip into his eyes. He clamped his hands into fists to still his fidgeting fingers.

Why am I such an idiot?

He had often been called too curious for his own good. It had gotten him into trouble before, although nothing serious. But this—this was not good. Why hadn’t he just gone home? Why did he have to stick around and snoop into the governor’s business?

At least they don’t know I’m here…yet.

Taking comfort in that fact for the moment, he pushed aside his fear to watch and listen again.

He was transfixed by a sort of morbid fascination. Though he’d been in the governor’s office multiple times, he had never seen anything as strange as the entity now interrogating Jaymus.

It was humanoid in form, but taller than any man he had ever seen. This creature—whatever it was, towered over the high governor, making the dignified leader look like a child in comparison. The youth flinched as the creature brought it’s great muscled arm down onto the official, knocking him to the floor again.

Jaymus was taking a beating. Great bruises were forming on his face and arms and blood dripped from a large gash near his eye.

Disturbing as the scene was, he couldn’t look away.

Posts: 1
Joined: October 4th, 2019, 7:30 pm

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

Post by jshdoff » October 4th, 2019, 7:38 pm

TITLE: What I Did For Love
GENRE: Memoir

First ~250 words


I’m three when I learn to shoot crap.
“Don’t you take the kid’s money,” my mother yells from the kitchen.
“If the kid’s gonna learn to gamble, the kids gonna learn to lose.”

Lesson Number One. I’m three when I learn don’t risk anything you’re not willing to lose. A tender father-daughter moment and not a camera in sight. I have his full attention and we’re shooting crap against the white brick of the fireplace. My father takes my three pennies when I lose. I’m three. Of course I lose. I lose a week's allowance. I don’t think I mind so much, because I really do have his attention and it’s his way of teaching me to count. His way of giving me an edge. One plus three is four, two plus two is four the hard way, one plus one is Snake Eyes. One and six? Craps. You lose.

My father was a photographer.

He could look right into you. There was no place to hide. His story: Fred is a teenager when he walks into a gypsy tearoom and reads the gypsy’s tea leaves. She puts him to work pronto in her gypsy storefront—this handsome kid from the Bronx, reading fortunes for the gadje. Gadje, that means Americans, and anyone who is not a gypsy, which technically, meant my father as well.

Posts: 2
Joined: October 7th, 2019, 9:44 am

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

Post by bankoferin » October 7th, 2019, 9:48 am

Title: Proof of Love
Genre: Literary Fiction/Women's Fiction

As Eliza entered her apartment, her phone buzzed impatiently in her back pocket. She pulled it out and glanced at the screen as she stepped out of her shoes. One new voicemail. She must have missed the call when she was underground in the subway, journeying back from a late dinner in Manhattan with Jackie and her new girlfriend. Eliza debated even listening to it; she was exhausted from uncomfortably witnessing a strange woman dote upon her friend. Not her friend. Her sponsor. Had she been jealous, of someone diverting attention normally reserved for her? Or of two people finding connection with each other?

She played the message on speaker while she undressed. With one leg out of her jeans, she froze when she heard an unmistakable voice, slow, soft, and strong. The voice of a ghost, from a life she no longer had.

“Eliza, hi, this is Owen. It’s Tuesday night, eight o’clock out here. I’m sorry I haven’t called sooner, we were hoping… well.” A deep breath crackled the line. “Your dad had a stroke. And he’d like to see you. Call me back anytime.”

Eliza slowly pulled her other leg out of her pants and circled slowly around the apartment, trying to breathe. She counted her inhale, one-two-three, and her exhale, one-two-three-four, like she was supposed to do when she wanted a drink. But instead of calming down, she felt dizzy and dashed to the bathroom to crouch over the toilet.
Last edited by bankoferin on February 19th, 2021, 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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