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

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
sherit33
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by sherit33 » March 13th, 2020, 10:20 am

Title: Three Things
Genre: Womens' Fiction

Of all the things Lilli Darlington loved about her West London home, her favourites were the closets in the master bedroom. One for her. One for Matthew. They were an apparition in England, where the residents relied on armoires and wardrobes. In the six years they’d lived in the house, she’d only gone into her husband’s closet to deposit the dry cleaning. Now she stood frozen in the doorway, eyes flitting from the shirts arranged by color to the pairs of shoes pointing toes forward, and struggled to recall why she was there.
“Pyjamas, underwear, toothbrush,” she whispered. “Pyjamas, underwear, toothbrush.” Lilli repeated the items like a mantra that would propel her forward. Keep her from collapsing. When the police had shown up at her door to tell her Matthew had been in a serious accident, she prepared herself for the worst. And death notwithstanding, the worst was what she got.
Her husband was nearly unrecognizable, his face bruised and swollen, head shaven, and all manner of tubes and probes attached to his body. That bloody motorbike. She’d hated when he bought it but he was home so seldom that she’d not wanted to get into a row. He purchased good insurance and they joked she’d be a wealthy woman if his stupidity ever caught up with him. Today, despite wearing a helmet, Matthew and the bike were no match for a lorry that pulled in front of him without warning and drug him along underneath the carriage for 50 metres.

360arts
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by 360arts » March 13th, 2020, 2:32 pm

250 words:
Slumped in my classroom’s last row, I stared at the back of my special-education classmates’ heads. James and Lauren locked lips, Jeremy drooled on his desk, and Destiny scrolled through a social media feed. Others doodled on their “mandated” worksheets while Mr. Hendricks, wearing baggy 1990’s clothing, played with his cellphone. If we had anything in common, our teacher shared our boredom. One perk came with my poor excuse of a class though and it rested in Nicole’s bra. Double D chest overflowed from her low cut shirt while she blew gum bubbles and checked her makeup. We’ve all caught Mr. Hendricks staring at her. Nicole banged half the student body, so it’s no surprise if she screwed Mr. Hendricks. She had to pass his class somehow. Kidnappers threw remedial freaks in their basement next to a boiler room with Mr. Hendricks because he compared to upstairs teachers like we compared to upstairs students.
High school imprisoned teenaged convicts, so we idled the same way my fellow inmates wasted class time in juvenile detention. Metal bars on public school basement classroom windows encouraged apathy and pieces of me died every morning I attended. Teachers don’t know anything, but they regurgitate a fraction of what they remember someone taught them and they expect us to follow suit continuing a redundant process. Basement held court, and Mr. Hendricks, our mundane jester, failed to entertain. Our school system ignored responsibility, Mr. Hendricks avoided teaching, and ADHD kids dropped out, but nobody cared. Why should I?

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

Post by Mustangpatty » March 13th, 2020, 5:38 pm

Title: Innocent for the Moment
Genre: Legal Thriller PG-13

As the sun made its first appearance over the horizon, the layers of fog and mist settled into the nooks and crannies of the Willamette Valley. Slowly as the sun rose, brushstrokes of pink and purple announced themselves and raced across the sky.

The scene was no longer the stark black trees against the white wisps of cloud, but instead vividly lit with streaks of bright orange light. The valley was flooded with color, and those who were lucky enough to watch the display felt as though they’d seen the architect of the world create something special just for them.

One of those people was Jill Adair. Wrapped in a luxurious robe while holding her favorite Italian coffee, she watched every bit of nature’s display. Though it was almost a year since she’d spent some time in jail, she still treasured each day she was able to watch the sunrise to its pinnacle in the blue sky.

Dear God—if you’re there today—thank you for this beautiful morning, the fact it isn’t raining, and for my French press. I also thank you for letting me find a way to continue to see Tom every day.

As Jill’s thoughts drifted to her obsession, her face lit from within. Her lovely features were soft in the early morning light. Natural blushes and shadows enhanced her high cheekbones and deep-set eyes. Her long locks were casually thrown over one shoulder, and the natural waves flowed all the way to the middle of her back.

robwinnanderson
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Joined: March 26th, 2020, 8:52 pm
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by robwinnanderson » March 26th, 2020, 9:00 pm

Title: Hobo Doryn: The Nothing Tower
Genre: TA Distopian

His hand began to quake as he took aim. This would be the first. The beginning.

“Without a beginning,” Hobo thought, “there can’t be an end. And, there needs to be an end.”

Thoughts of Prior and what this could mean for her flooded his mind. The quaking stopped. He released the hounds.

Hounds. It was a ridiculous nickname. He knew that. But Hobo liked labeling things. It made them more than what was expected. There was enough of the expected in the New Harmony. He was tired of it.

The two, microscopic hounds whizzed through the morning air. Hobo grinned as they passed by an unaware ear; its owner swatting, absentmindedly, at the twin “gnats” surely attempting to make a landing pad out of his way-longer-than-necessary lobe.

They split for a brief moment, zipping around the upstretched hand of a National shouting obscenities at passing transport drivers “obviously too brainless to notice someone of my level needing to get to the Outer Bridge now! Halfwits!”

Hobo pulled out a makeshift scanner. It was constructed of three older models, and the screen of a vintage iPhone, but it worked. The green pulse instantly registered the transport hailer’s semi-perfect features.

“He deserves to be a target. Sooner than later,” Hobo said a bit too loudly.

“Damn,” he said, and then darted his eyes quickly about, hoping his outburst hadn’t blown his cover. The potentially new target had stolen his attention away from the flight of his hounds.

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

Post by Vinayak » March 27th, 2020, 11:44 am

Name: [Undecided]
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure


Tripping again was the last thing she wanted. Another moss covered tree root failed her. In a forest of such proportions, Lassa struggled to find a suitable footing. Losing track on the way was frustrating, and now that she reached the cohort, her cohort, it was disconcerting to find them in such disarray.
“Listen here!” She shouted, and the ones close by turned, surprised at her arrival.
She ignored the swear words she heard. She didn't choose to be here anyways. That was all Ardhyne’s fault. If they had to blame someone, it was him.
“Reten is calling.” The voices echoed, until there was a discrete scream in the distance.
“What-” Lassa traced the shouts following the scream, to the banks of the slow stream tracking through the forest. “-happened? Denner?”
One of the laziest of the cohort, perhaps excluding Lassa herself, was Denner. She walked towards him, as the whimpering continued.
“The stream is corrosive.” She said, her matter-of-fact tone bringing a few more scowls than usual.
Denner screamed again. His legs were not anywhere near suitable for walking. It seemed to have melted the skin off, and his toes were smoking. There was a good deal of exposed bone, and much of the tissue seemed gangrenous.
“You could have told us this before you went off.” Kerin, the only other female in her cohort, frowned at her. It was normal, by the usual proportions. She never got any of the respect a Reten deserved, anyways.

dory123
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by dory123 » March 28th, 2020, 2:58 pm

Title: Strong Roots
Genre: Women's Fiction

Some homecoming. Absolute darkness, and a dreary rain streaming down the windshield of her old Jeep.

Dana glanced at the clock. She was hours later than she’d planned, thanks to a flat tire outside of Chicago. Dark clouds had moved in while she puzzled out how to get to the jack without unpacking all of her worldly goods. As she fumbled through changing the tire, the rain let loose in earnest, leaving her and most everything she owned sopping wet.

Not much longer now, though. She decided to take the short cut and heaved on the wheel to turn onto a narrow side road, tires skidding on the greasy, wet blacktop. Vegetation closed in to form a tunnel above the car, green and lush in the beam of her headlights. She had the sensation of traveling underwater.

Dana’s neck was stiff, her shoulders tense from hunching over the wheel. The inside of the car was close and stuffy, redolent of damp clothing and the burger and fries she’d had for dinner. She cranked down the window to let the fresh scent of rain-dampened earth, of things growing wash over her and felt an immediate sense of release. Leaning as far out the window and into the wet as the seat belt would allow, she inhaled deeply. This smell was a part of her. Home.

In the cone of light ahead, a small, dark shape appeared, eyes reflecting neon green. Too late, it began to move in a quick, shambling gait...

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

Post by EMWolff » April 1st, 2020, 7:45 pm

Title: Clarksville
Genre: Crime Fiction/Political Thriller

Sergeant Famosa’s beat ran along the west end of downtown where Buffalo Soldier Creek slews into Point Frere and the abandoned loading dock to the south, arriving at its destination like a minor solar system cashing out, its fringes spinning slowly into the river in fragmenting rings of malachite, rust and ochre. The fumes of primordial decay were augmented by decomposing tires and plastic bags swept into its arc: oracles for the once and future bog. And some two-dozen decrepit sewer lines no official dare chase back to their taps.

Famosa had volunteered for the unpopular route. He would park his cruiser at the Frere entryway, a shiny fat snail of a ramp that curves down to the water past a somersaulting mass of hot orange and teal fiberglass, change into jogging shoes and hit the trail just as the sun was clipping the tallest of the skyscrapers. A heavy sprinkling of cheerful metal signs cluttered the first mile, explaining every creature and plant bud that ever called the basin home. They irritated him as much as the Lycra-clad parents pushing all-terrain strollers like they were competing in an Olympic event; he’d determined they were the intended beneficiaries of the handicap-accessibility features. But once he launched his stocky legs over the the barricades marking the end of the amenities and began prowling the lumpy butts of the highway embankments, his bile receded and he was happy to have chosen this city for his second home.

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

Post by aldernans » April 3rd, 2020, 3:43 pm

Chapter 1
January 15, 1965
From the diary of GoGo Storm

Most people hear about something tragic and say, “Oh, that’s horrible.” They go on about their business, and live their lives.
I’m not most people.
I don’t just hear about tragedy.
I feel it.
Literally.
My Mama says I’m too empathetic, but my Dad says I have the feelings of an angel. Empathy, angel, it all boils down to one thing – I’m cursed. I see things before they happen. When I was six, a terrible thing happened, a swarm of bees attacked the neighborhood know-it-all, Tamara Stevens. My sister, Beauty, told me about the incident two hours after it happened. She said Tamara’s white skin turned tomato red blowing up in pockets all over her face and body. She couldn’t see. Beauty said, “Oh, it was horrible,” but then, she went and stuffed her face with butter pecan ice cream.
Me, I knew exactly when it happened.
Me, I felt each one of the stings.
My skin still itches when I think about it.
Tamara was reciting a paragraph of Encyclopedia Brown to her four-year-old brother, as if he would remember who wore what during the Civil War. She wore pink and yellow faded almost white to match her skin. Already she looked deathly. Her mouth moved in o’s and her teeth formed a lot of s’s, but the thing that stayed with me wasn’t her words.

francocook1
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Location: West Virginia
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by francocook1 » April 10th, 2020, 4:53 pm

Chapter One
Title: The Parallel
Genre: Young Adult portal fantasy with Sci-Fi elements

The winged lion stood by the exit to the Phoenician exhibit like a bronze sentry, tarnished and faded by time. I bid the statue a silent goodbye as I passed it. After pulling an eight-hour shift answering questions about all things ancient, I just wanted to go home. I entered the crowded hall and squeezed past a couple of kids in I heart D.C. t-shirts and headed toward door in the back of the space. Then someone bumped me hard. I stumbled and my intern's badge fell to the floor.
"Watch it!" said a forty-something guy with dark hair. He held a clear plastic cup away from his body. Brown liquid splattered his starched shirt. "Pay attention where you're going next time."
"Uh, sorry," I said. But why was I apologizing when he had slammed into me?
"You made me spill my Frappuccino." He glared down at my intern's badge, making no effort to pick it up and finished with, "Amara."
Great, now he knew my name. Before I could respond, he stormed toward the middle of the room and disappeared in a crowd of mouth-breathing tourists staring at a stone sarcophagus.
Rude.
I picked up my badge, careful not to tilt my head too low. If my wig fell off in front of all these people, I'd die of embarrassment. I could see it now. Everyone gathered around the girl with the stubbled hair and surgical scar. Whispered comments and looks of pity would immediately follow. The museum had enough freaky things on display. No need to add me to the list of attractions.

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

Post by S Chan » April 13th, 2020, 6:49 am

Title: Solomon Lin and the Sorcerer's Kingdom
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

People always asked Solomon how his parents chose his name, but it was Nai Nai who’d decided on the name Solomon.

Mum and Dad thought it was a terrible name, but they’d nodded and smiled at Nai Nai because they’d thought they were going to have a girl, and because Nai Nai was “as stubborn as a mule,” according to Mum. So when a boy came out instead, they hadn’t any choice. Down in the birth registry it went. Solomon Lin.

This saddled Solomon with unwanted expectations. Every year when they drove up hilly, winding roads lined with two-storey houses to visit Nai Nai, Solomon was told the same thing.

“You’ll grow up wise,” Nai Nai would declare, sitting on flat faded cushions in her favourite bamboo armchair and gripping Solomon’s chin between her bony fingers. “You’ll grow up wise and good, just like King Solomon.”

Behind the chair Mum would roll her eyes and mouth the words along with her, and Dad would give Mum a reproving look.

Solomon didn’t feel very wise, though he didn’t say so. But then Solomon never said much of anything. “Very quiet,” was how his teachers described him in end of year reports, along with “mature for his age”, under a low mark for class participation. His art teacher always wrote the same thing, in her forceful capital letters and purple pen:

NEEDS TO EXPRESS HIMSELF MORE. SOMETIMES I FORGET WHAT HIS VOICE SOUNDS LIKE!

The letters got a little larger each year.

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

Post by G_air_e » April 14th, 2020, 1:02 pm

TItle: Break the Sky
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

“If we don’t have a key, I’ll make one.”
That was all that needed to be said in the final, tense meeting between the five rough-looking men. Stuffed in a tiny loft for months, that statement expedited their day of reckoning.
Today was that day.
The mechanic of the crew squatted in front of a dirty alley wall. It was marred with indecipherable writing. Next to him laid a substantial puddle of unknown liquid, neon reflecting on its surface. The distant wails of sirens, the low hum of bustle, smatterings of barks staining the soundscape, he stood alone in the dark alleyway. He swayed left and right to stretch his quads. Satisfied, he rose and rolled his shoulders back while bobbing his head from side to side. Shaking off the rest of the rust, he took a deep breath of the stale air around him.
There was no need to look up. All the lights of his world ended at the top of skyscrapers scattered throughout the city of Talavera. Feet planted to the ground, he only need to look ahead. But an ingrained instinct caused him to tilt his head toward the sky. As expected, the only thing it returned was a vast expanse of black.
He rummaged through his pockets and pulled out a square device held together by duct tape. Dangling on its side was a freshly minted key attached to an ignition mechanism. It had an arming switch, one button, and a pale diode at

Gill91
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Gill91 » April 15th, 2020, 3:09 am

First 250 words
Title: A Season on the Piste
Genre: Memoir (written as a novel)


Puddles reflected the amber street-lights, proceed with caution they winked. Roger, my partner of ten years, clambered from the taxi, his once lithe physique lurking beneath recent excesses. The silver Skoda merged back into the traffic, disappearing, like our former lives. Our new life, together, would launch from this inauspicious Reading car park.
Late November dusk chilled my naked neck where auburn locks had lain only days before. Short tufts now demonstrated a low maintenance style, reducing the opportunity for wet hair to freeze in Alpine temperatures, with little time for lengthy blow-dries. I had yet to embrace my grey, the tinges reflected an absence of fripperies, like hair-dye, in this frugal lifestyle.
“Is this a massive mistake?” I said. “Is it too late to go home?”
“Yep,” Roger replied.
My chest tightened, I exhaled slowly, tried to lower tense shoulders, I could do this, another long breath out. We lingered on the periphery of a throng, well-travelled suitcases alluded to a common factor, packed in one life, to be opened in another. Through the gloom multi-layered figures stomped the ground in over-sized boots, cosy hats bobbed and arms draped around shoulders.
“They look fairly normal, I don’t feel so dowdy now.”
“Why did you?” Roger asked.
“You know, glitz, glamour, beautiful people and all that stuff."
“No.”
He scrutinised the replenishing snake of coaches, diesel fumes invaded nostrils and engines drowned conversations as a succession of willing victims climbed the illuminated steps.

francocook1
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Joined: April 7th, 2020, 11:15 am
Location: West Virginia
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by francocook1 » April 23rd, 2020, 6:34 pm

The first 250 words of my Young Adult portal fantasy

The winged lion stood by the exit to the Phoenician exhibit like a bronze sentry, tarnished and faded by time. I bid the statue a silent goodbye as I passed it. After pulling an eight-hour shift answering questions about all things ancient, I just wanted to go home. I entered the crowded hall and squeezed by a couple of kids in 'I heart D.C.' t-shirts, and headed toward door in the back of the space. Then someone bumped me hard. I stumbled and my intern's badge fell to the floor.
"Watch it!" said a forty-something guy with dark hair. He held a clear plastic cup away from his body. Brown liquid splattered his starched shirt. "Pay attention where you're going next time."
"Uh, sorry," I said. But why was I apologizing when he had slammed into me?
"You made me spill my Frappuccino." He glared down at my intern's badge, making no effort to pick it up and finished with, "Amara."
Great, now he knew my name. Before I could respond, he stormed toward the middle of the room and disappeared into a crowd of mouth-breathing tourists staring at a stone sarcophagus.
Rude.
I picked up my badge, careful not to tilt my head too low. If my wig fell off in front of all these people, I'd die of embarrassment. I could see it now. Everyone gathered around the girl with the stubble hair and surgical scar. Whispered comments and looks of pity would immediately follow. The museum had enough freaky things on display. No need to add me to the list of attractions.

rodmcfain@gmail.com
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Joined: April 24th, 2020, 1:42 pm
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by rodmcfain@gmail.com » April 24th, 2020, 1:48 pm

Title: In Between Time
Genre: Historical Fiction
First 250 words

Cecil James Elliott hated the name his mother gave him. He didn’t care much for her. Not after her hospitalization in 1910, the year he was twelve. That’s when she told him she wanted to die. It was a Wednesday. Wednesday, October 5, to be exact. From that day, their relationship was troubled. In this year, 1919, he referred to himself as C.J., and they barely spoke.
C.J. was glad they barely spoke. Prohibition had just passed; he would have been worn out by listening to her blather on about how grand the forced enactment of teetotaling would be. To annoy her, he would have argued that prohibition would only increase crime. Yes, it was best they barely spoke.
On the occasions he was interested in a female’s view, he preferred the notions of Maggie O’Sullivan, an opinionated Irish girl. Stubborn – and what a temper that one had – but, oh, she was pretty: ginger hair, snapping green eyes, a warm skin tone, tall, willowy, and a hint of an Irish lilt in her voice. He knew the first time he saw her that she would be his muse.
“Your muse?” she said, pulling her collar up, and her red felt beret, down, over newly bobbed hair.
“Yes, my muse,” C.J. responded, conceitedly. “Surely, a Mount Holyoke girl knows what a muse is.”
“Of course, I know,” Maggie replied, clearly glancing down at the novel she was carrying – The God of the Seas. “I’m just astounded an Amherst boy does.”

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

Post by snebog » April 24th, 2020, 6:20 pm

Title: Everyone an Orphan
Literary Fiction
First 250 words

A ‘Back Soon’ sign hung from an iron nail on the door of the rugged granite kiosk. The sign board advertised “Kreuzen Vermietet/Crosses Rented: 9:00-1:00, 2:00-6:00. He glanced at his watch. 9:10. Probably should have left his watch in the hotel room.
Their entire stock of crosses was organized to one side of the kiosk along the cathedral’s high wall, models made of rough-hewn beams alongside others of thinner wood, ten, twenty, thirty pounds lighter. Some were hollow facsimiles.
Ray stared at a challenging version twice his height convinced if he touched it he might crash down the whole row. Maybe he could find Christ-connectedness here but he didn’t want to kill himself in the attempt.
The shutters of the kiosk jumped open, bang. The matron, in jeans and high-necked knit sweater, came around to the front of the kiosk and studiously latched them with long, thin fingers. Her dark hair, streaked grey, swung like a horse’s tail when she turned and nodded toward him. She had stark blue eyes and dark eyebrows.
Satisfied that the tray of brochures had been pulled all the way forward to the leading edge of the counter, she gave Ray a practiced smile with yellowed-ivory teeth. She was almost Ray’s height. Her expression seemed to acknowledge the possibility of deep sadness beneath his interest and promised discretion and warrantied the privacy of his visit.
“Good morning.” She must have placed him as an American. “Have you rented with us before?”

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