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

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Grangemouth421
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Re: The Rainbow Revolution: Thriller/Conspiracy

Post by Grangemouth421 » May 3rd, 2020, 7:37 pm

The Rainbow Revolution

Prologue

No. 1 Military Hospital Pretoria
Intensive Care Unit
October 1987

The ICU sagged with the pregnancy of furtive death. One-Military is a proud sanctuary of healing; but for the seriously wounded soldier, this sombre corner is all too often the last stop before the mortuary terminus. As he followed the stiff-uniformed nurse that knowledge weighed heavily on Colonel Stander. He was sick to his stomach with apprehension,
The irony was inescapable. A military man, expensively trained in the struggle to take life. The medical woman dedicated to preserving it. War impartially fed both sides of the equation.
Her rubber-soled shoes squeaked on the mirror-polished floor at every footfall. His military heels clicked a metronomic pulse. Almost music with the rhythm of a requiem.
They turned a corner closing the distance to the private ward. In it, one of Stander's elite hung onto life by a thread. One Military boasted the best medical banned word money could buy. Equipment state of the art. To the men risking all in service to their country and paying a price, it offered a bastion of hope.
Coming up to the observation window a sad tableau presented. A tall man, kitted in bush khakis, with hands clamped on the wheelchair in front of him stared fixedly ahead. Equally still in the cocoon of the chair and similarly transfixed, a woman of regal bearing.
The nurse offered no introduction, smiled nervously, and retreated sheep-like, glad to be away. The army officer cleared his throat softly. The man before him turned slowly. The woman remained motionless.

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

Post by catshields » May 5th, 2020, 3:01 pm

Title: A MILLION WAYS TO MEASURE NORMAL
by Catherine Shields
Genre: Memoir

"Your daughter, Jessica, is profoundly retarded."

Some words you never expect to hear spoken aloud. Whispered words, accompanied by lowered eyes, and the nod of a head became nothing more than the practice of empathy projected, but not understood. Retarded. A doctor spoke those words. The year; 1988.
For twenty-four years, I struggled to navigate an often-unknown land, and solve the mystery of what awaited at the end of my passage.
*
Yesterday the defining moment of my journey manifested itself when I stood in Jessica’s empty bedroom. Everything appeared the same as the day before. The same but different. An assortment of posters hung on the wall above her bed, most of the images, teenage boy bands. In one photo, the boys, arms linked, leaned forward and smiled. For a moment, I imagined they wanted to hear my thoughts. I whispered the words like a quiet secret. “We moved Jessica to a group home today.”
Through the bedroom window, the sway of the palm trees captivated my attention.
Crack. The snap of a frond roused me from my reverie, and I returned to the posters, the ones she asked me to bring. My fingers trembled as I grabbed the edges. I wondered if my heart would crack into a million little pieces like the broken keepsakes she refused to throw away.
I dreaded this for so long.
Our twenty-eight-year-old daughter often followed me around the house and begged the same question.

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

Post by rossbuckner » May 7th, 2020, 4:21 pm

TITLE: After the Truth
GENRE: Domestic Mystery
AUTHOR: Ross Buckner

Prudence felt bad for wishing her father was dead when the gunshot popped like a firecracker from the room above. For a second, nothing moved in the Callison House study but the tiny flames in the fireplace that needed stoking. Hamilton Hissen’s hand froze on the knot of the gold Hermes tie with a repeating pattern of raised H’s he had been adjusting as he stood behind the old Callison desk, no longer reading from the paper quivering in his other hand.

Her twin brother, Jack, on the couch to her left, closed his eyes, took a calming breath and released the death grip he had on his legs. His hands moved to slide his long hair behind his ears, but they caught air. He’d cut his straight, shoulder length hair that morning. The razor burn was fresh on the parts of his face she hadn’t seen since high school almost twenty years ago.

On the opposite couch, younger brother Raymond’s arm rested on his round belly while his cocktail stayed pressed to his lips. His widened eyes moved side-to-side like a Kit-Cat clock in slow motion. His wife, Gerry, leaned forward from his side, took care to place her drink on a coaster and not the almost-priceless Elizabethan withdrawing table and planted her face in her hands.

Nathan, their long-time House Manager, replaced the fireplace poker he was about to use, placed his stubby hands behind him, backed into the wall and awaited his instructions. From whom? The man who gave them was upstairs. Alone.

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

Post by HJC » May 9th, 2020, 11:03 am

THE GIRL CALLED KIT[/b
-----
Kit is astonished when she discovers she has a sister living in New York and seeks to discover the past,
but terror gradually mounts as the ocean liner crosses the Atlantic and an onboard stalker tightens his control.

-----
Southampton, 2019

THE SHIP
Kit stamped her feet on the quayside to keep warm. ‘Where the hell are you!’ she muttered hugging her coat closer in the biting wind. She glanced for the umpteenth time at her mobile phone, but there was no message from her brother. In desperation she rang his number again and left an angry message.
The ship towered over her, making her diminutive figure seem even smaller as she tightly clutched the precious box to her chest. Its commonplace brown paper wrapping concealed its importance. Nobody would ever guess that her life was in that box, at least the foundation of it.
Kit’s eye was drawn to a tall thin man nearby; he was slowly squatting up and down as though to sit on a chair, but there was no chair. Then he began skipping without a rope. She looked away thinking he must be an exercise fanatic.
The noisy loading of new cargo jostled for supremacy over the excited chatter of the hordes of cruise passengers who were about to board. Kit could almost smell their excitement.
Her view of the horizon was suddenly blocked by the exercise fanatic. She blinked as he pointed his mobile phone at her and took a photo. Then he broke into a run towards the ship, but not before she had been greeted with his creepy smile and rotten egg breath. A shudder travelled down her spine and the obnoxious smell of his breath lingered enough to bring an unpleasant taste to her mouth.
She swallowed the fear that rose in her throat. Kit did not relish this journey alone, even though being incarcerated with her brother wasn’t a congenial option either. Where was he? Would he even come?

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

Post by jessica.mcbrayer » May 9th, 2020, 2:39 pm

First 250 Words

Mathilda
One of my Manolo Blahniks was the first thing through my private portal into my office. I was a secret shoe slut. Well, maybe it wasn’t so much of a secret. We all have our vices.
I always got a rush when I came to work. This place had a lot of residual magik. The house I had renovated, the Witch House, was first built by a Puritan in the 1600's and is directly related to the Salem Witch Trials, nestled in Salem, Massachusetts. It had been owned by several witches throughout the generations. A way for all the magik folk to infuse the place with positive energy, hopefully eradicating all the bad juju. It had worked.
I had to do some considerable magik and pay a hefty price to get the property after it had been made into a museum. It was mine, though. It was a big f-you to the man that was part of the torture and murder of my fellow sisters in magik. The sad thing is that most of the real witches escaped. The zealots had twisted the townspeople into hysteria and had murdered innocent women in its wake in a sick bid to increase their properties all in the name of intolerance.
Now it was home to my supernatural matchmaker’s agency. The second floor was occupied by my clerical staff and IT, a safe place for my gnome employees to work without prejudice. Gnomes are excellent with technology.

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

Post by jessica.mcbrayer » May 9th, 2020, 2:44 pm

Nominated page by Jessi.Mcbrayer starting "Mathilda" - Undecided title in Paranormal Romance

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

Post by aldernans » May 10th, 2020, 10:36 am

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. 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. I knew exactly when it happened and I felt each one of the stings. My vision was blurry for a week after the incident and my skin still itches when I think about it. The details of the memory are as crisp as the lines in a coloring book.
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. 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. It was fear. The kind of fear that stays frozen inside you to keep you all winter on the outside. It’s a second skin that never warms. Tamara lived several blocks down from me. It was her fear that made me see her and him – The Sandman, a vampire demon who took your eyes and soul?

SusanWriter
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First Page Mystery Book

Post by SusanWriter » May 21st, 2020, 5:10 pm

It was a small house, the living room neat but sparsely furnished, holding two lounge chairs, three big screen TVs, one dead body and seventeen cats. Not even breathing through my mouth made the stench bearable.

I stared at the body; milky eyes stared back as though they could see into my soul, while cats wound around my feet and used my jeans for a scratching post. One death-blotched hand clutched a business card; I could just out my Skylark Investigations logo through the blood splotches. I knew better than to touch it, much less try to tuck it somewhere out of sight where it couldn’t bite me on the ass.

Just my luck. Dunwitty will have a field day with this, I thought as I pulled out my cell and speed-dialed the detective.

He picked up on the third ring and I made my first mistake. I took a breath so I could speak. The miasma of dead body and cat urine corkscrewed into my lungs. I spent the first minute of the call hacking up my lungs and listening to Dunwitty shout in my ear.

“Body,” I finally managed to gasp. “Number one-twelve Seventeenth Street, near Pismo.”

“One of yours, Skylark?” came the sarcastic reply.

Another breath and more coughing. My eyes watered and I stumbled toward the door, tripping over cats on my way.

“Fuck you, Dunwitty,” I growled, “just get over here. Bring your CSU friends, we’ll have a party.”

“Don’t touch anything,” Dunwitty ordered, and hung up.

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

Post by jessica.mcbrayer » May 28th, 2020, 6:10 pm

First Page Query
The Devil's in the Details
Jessica McBrayer
Mathilda
One of my dark teal sling back Manolo Blahniks with crystal accents was the first thing through my private portal into my office. I was a secret shoe slut. Well, maybe it wasn’t so much of a secret. We all have our vices.
I always got a rush when I went through the portal. It was like walking through a tornado without getting your hair messed up. My office had a lot of residual magik all by itself. The Witch House, so it was called locally, was first built by a Puritan in the 1600’s and is directly related to the Salem Witch Trials, nestled in Salem, Massachusetts. It had been owned by several witches throughout the generations. A way for all the magik folk to infuse the place with positive energy, hopefully eradicating all the bad juju. It had worked.
I had to do some considerable magik and pay a hefty price to get the property after it had been made into a museum. It was mine, though. A big f-you to the man that was part of the torture and murder of my fellow sisters in magik. The sad thing is that most of the real witches escaped, having had premonitions about what was to come. The zealots had twisted the townspeople into hysteria and had murdered innocent women in its wake, in a sick bid to increase their properties all in the name of their intolerant teachings and ignorance.
Now it was home to my supernatural matchmaker’s agency, Witchy Woman. It was two stories with the second-floor occupying by my clerical staff, IT, and accounting. It was a safe place for my gnome employees to work without prejudice. Gnomes are excellent with technology. One had single-handedly built my computer program containing a complicated algorithm that reflects my personal criteria and a healthy dose of my magik for choosing a match. When a supernatural applicant fills out the online profile, the computer gives me a few alternatives, in my region, in which to choose from.

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

Post by magicbeet » June 9th, 2020, 7:11 pm

Title: The Secret of Wildsea
Genre: Paranormal Romance
First 250 words:

“Move out of my way, darling,” Tari commanded with a confident smile.

Shadows filled the rented room, but Tari stood by the window in a single ray of moonlight, looking like an angel. Her skin glowed softly and her blonde hair shimmered, appearing almost silver. Her heavenly beauty contrasted with the black leather that hugged her long legs and cinched her small waist.

Darvyn tore his eyes from the deep V of skin exposed by her vest. Her pose and command were unconvincing. Had he ever refused her before? He chanced a look at her eyes, pale grey eyes, usually reminiscent of warm rain-filled clouds. Now they shone like icicle-daggers in a winter forest.

The cold scared him, but he ignored it. He blinked, reminding himself that she had betrayed Wildsea, had betrayed him.

He had invited her to this room, a room where they’d shared long hours of passion. But not tonight. Tonight, he intended to learn the truth about the woman to whom he’d given his heart.

She hadn’t confirmed or denied anything yet. He asked, “Who convinced you of this foolishness? Bring me to him, and together you and I will turn him over to the Council. You will be forgiven, but you must work with me.”

“Move,” she repeated.

In response to his stillness, she bent her elbow, resting her hand against her collarbone, a gesture that portrayed an almost childish innocence, but her eyes never left his. They held a sensual self-assurance

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

Post by NicoleS » June 9th, 2020, 11:45 pm

Speculative Fiction
Last edited by NicoleS on July 26th, 2020, 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dcburtonjr
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First page Critique - Girl at Sea

Post by dcburtonjr » June 13th, 2020, 7:02 pm

For a first page critique.
Title - Girl at Sea
Psychological Thriller
David Burton

Chapter One

Willing to risk the sting of her husband’s palm, Emily Perrit asked, "Jamie, are you sure you have to go?" as she stood with her husband at the door to the garage.
Jamie Perrit let out a deep sigh. "Emily, you ask that every time I have to go out of town.”
"Can't somebody else go? You should be a vice-president and not have to go. You know I don't like to be here alone."
Jamie froze on the first step.
Emily tensed, arms tight across her chest, heart racing.
Jamie stepped back into the house. He grabbed her jaw with his free hand. "Emily," he said, full of disdain. "This is the last time we’re having this conversation. I'm only thirty-nine. There's no way I can be a vice-president until I'm forty. It's one of Mr. Teng's rules.” He gave her face a shake. “Don’t make me punish you. You know I don’t like to do that.” He gave her a final squeeze and turned to the door.
Emily’s body vibrated with the release. She breathed deep. Eyes on the floor, she nodded. It was an old argument which she never won. "When will you be back?"
"Late Friday."
"You told me Thursday. I got tickets for the symphony Friday night. We never go anymore."
"Don’t whine, Emily. I don’t like it. Get Rachel to go with you."
"She doesn't like classical music. You do."
"Emily!"
"Okay, okay."
He backed his BMW out of the garage. She thought he returned her wave then realized he only pushed the button to close the garage door.

Thanks,
David Burton
https;//davidburtonwriting.com

Me_marino
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Joined: February 27th, 2020, 4:25 pm
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1st Page Critique Request

Post by Me_marino » June 30th, 2020, 11:39 am

Title: The Footsteps Forged
Suspense Fiction

CHAPTER 1

She will find him.   
With the innocence of a child and the blind faith of a prophet, the matter of her existence crossed the Gibbous moon. As a speck, it glinted off the lake's skin and along the tops of balding trees. Given the early morning hour, an individual happening to look up would question their inebriation or lack of sleep and convince themselves that this phenomenon, a streaming sparkle, was their imagination. And make it so. 
Camouflaged by city's light pollution, it traveled on, unnoticed before swooning through a mountainous gap that directed the river like two hands threading a black silk ribbon. Familiar to the sloops, it hovered momentarily above chimneys billowing white smoke of cremated beech, oak, and maple logs, when — there. The streaking fleck found a screen-less window, up an inch from the sill. Space enough, it twisted and stirred vertical slats before settling in a chair, proving its arrival by swaying the rocker. Gently. To and fro creaking the wooden floor. 
Between the alternating stripes of the moonlight's alternating stripes of light and dark, an undeniable existence took shape. Fresh eyes scanned over to the bed, lamp, end table, bureau, closet. New lungs sucked in lavender-sweetened air. The purple flower flopped in a vase. On a small table. Beside a mound of sheets and blanket.  

Angelo Credente laid awake, fidgeting with the night and the fated day's arrival. He heard the vertical blinds clap. The chilly air stirred the room.  

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

Post by heidi wainer » July 6th, 2020, 1:40 pm

Title: Beyond the Rings of Imagination
Genre: Young Adult Space Opera

The stiff Kansas wind sliced through Shara’s coat, carrying the sweet promise of spring along with the seeds of calamitous storms.
“Shara, you’re as antsy as sheep among wolves,” her mother, Kaitlyn, teased her. Together, they wove their way through clumps of students filling the plaza outside the biology building at Wrensforde University, where her mother taught.
Shara shook off the jibe. Most mornings she enjoyed their walk. Today each step reverberated with nervous anticipation.
“Today’s acceptance day, isn’t it?”
“I should get a message this morning.” A fretful night flopping between hope and dread had wound Shara into a tightly coiled spring. Today, she’d discover if she’d gain access to the knowledge and resources of the world’s foremost institution on exobiology. Admission into Rega’s accelerated graduate program would mean finally be surrounded by students her own age. Perhaps, she’d even meet other scientists who graduated high school before puberty and dreamed of restoring the devastation travelers between planets sometimes left in their wake, like the dead trees and toxic lake that had once been Jacksfield Park.
Shara’s wristcomm buzzed.
Time froze as a hologram of an administrator’s face formed above her hand. If only hope and desire could influence the message’s contents.
“Go ahead, open it.” Her mother squeezed her hand.
With a trembling finger, she pressed the button. The hologram grew opaque. “Ms. Bransford, after careful consideration, we regret to inform you, we are unable to include you in this year’s accelerated admission program.”

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

Post by arjaymg » July 10th, 2020, 5:30 pm

Title: Gravenhurst
Genre: Upper Middle-Grade fantasy
first chapter 213 words

The woman stood between two polished metal mirrors in the bottom of the castle’s locked, stone-walled keep. She was growing impatient. Stretching her arms out from her sides, her fingertips grazed both mirrors. Sparks that glowed the ugly greenish color of rotting olives grew from both mirrors, combined into a rope of sparks, and snaked up until it exited at the top of the keep.
A tall razor-thin man, wearing a coat made of black feathers, stood on top of the keep with his arms reaching to the sky like he was going to catch a football. The snake of sparks formed a large ball between his hands and then, with lightning-like speed, shot into the sky.
Deep in the bowels of the keep, the woman began to laugh. Finally, she thought, my plan begins. Her smiling lips pulling back to reveal teeth that were half rotted but still sharp, still sharp after a thousand years. Finally.
3,640 miles away, the sparks snaked their way through the windows of a cheerful yellow, colonial-style home in Michigan and found mirrors into which it could hide and wait.
The home did not know it was under attack.
And the children, the poor children. They did not know the madness that would be wrought upon them.

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