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

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Rainbow Girl
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First Page of "The Inner City"

Post by Rainbow Girl » July 13th, 2020, 5:59 pm

Title: The Inner City
Genre: YA Dystopian


Prologue

“They promised us success. They promised us peace. They promised us happiness.”
The Pegasus smiled. She sat back in her chair as she watched the words roll off her keyboard and onto Eudora Master’s lips as she addressed the crowd. The Pegasus, of course, was watching from a security camera she’d installed herself.
“And what are we living in? A trash hole!” She giggled at this one. The “trash hole” comment was a running gag between the Pegasus and her associates, the White Rabbit Gang. They were all like her-skilled on the keyboard, and with people.
“They told us this was utopia! Well, we’re fed up with their excuses!” The Pegasus was, if anything, known for her way with words. It’s why she was accepted into the Gang in the first place. She was the voice of the people. Or, rather, Eudora Masters was, for the time being.
The Pegasus was who people cared about. But when it came down to Violet Pierce, no one even knew her name. And that was good. When it hit the fan-and it would hit the fan-no one would be after Violet Pierce. She would just be another name, another face in the crowd.
“Isn’t it high time we did something about it?”
The crowd roared, and she smirked as she terminated the connection. Eudora Masters would be dead in a few hours because of this, but no one cared. Because Eudora Masters was just another girl. A drop of water in the ocean.
Just like the girl behind the Pegasus.
***
“You’re supposed to appreciate what I do for this family, River.”
Alessa poked her vegan burger as she glanced at her father, then at her sister. The burger, like their glares at each other, was getting colder by the minute.
“Well, I guess I just don’t appreciate the actions of an oppressor.” River said, with all the confidence in the world.
Her mother grabbed her hand. “Choose your next words very carefully, honey. I don’t want you to get stuck in the Inner City. Take it back, we’ve already lost Jamison-”
“Mom, this is wrong. All of this is wrong.”
“Please, River.”

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

Post by BrendaHaas » July 15th, 2020, 5:02 pm

Title: Sutton's Choice
Genre: Women's Fiction

The cramped window seat offered Charlotte Sutton a partial view of Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente Bridge, its girded, straw-colored arches a staple of the city of black and gold. If she pressed her cheek against the glass, she could even glimpse a corner of the baseball stadium.

Ironic, really. She hated baseball. She’d always hated baseball—something she was certain her athletic father would never acknowledge about his only daughter.

Charlotte’s cellphone buzzed.

419 area code. Lakeside, Ohio.

Had she wished it upon herself? With precision, she placed the phone face-down on the windowsill, set aside her laptop, grabbed her coffee cup, and drained the last bitter mouthfuls of lukewarm liquid as she hurried to the kitchen. Plunking the ceramic mug into the sink, she scowled down at the sailboat etched onto its side. Her small-town, Lake Erie roots never failed to haunt her.

It’s nothing.

Just a telemarketer.


Charlotte shrugged at the thought, knowing it to be otherwise. She’d ignored several random calls from her hometown in recent weeks—hang-ups from what she assumed to be her father’s cell number, an unlikely occurrence on any day of any week of any month.

Either Chuck wanted to talk to her or he didn’t.

The previous evening, some kid—some teenager, Charlotte assumed—had also left a cryptic message asking her to call about Chuck. Sounding nervous, he’d hung up without giving his name. Charlotte hadn’t responded. If some star-struck, wannabe baseball player was looking for her esteemed father’s advice, address, autograph, or approval, he was looking in the wrong dugout.

kathryn
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First Page Critique

Post by kathryn » July 18th, 2020, 6:46 pm

One Dress, One Day
Novel set in Barcelona, 1990

MADRUGADA

Francisco stepped back from the car window and nodded toward his partner-in-crime posted nearby. With surgical precision, he forced a leather gloved fist through the jagged glass, then reached down to pull up the backdoor handle.

The compact Renault sat parked on a gritty Barcelona street which appeared as empty as possible at 3:30 in the morning. At that hour, decent citizens slept in their beds while others kept the bars and discos open, throbbing to the beat of one of last summer’s hits. His timing was perfect since some street noise was needed to cover the sound of shattering glass. Of course, anyone frequenting that particular strip of sidewalk at that time was either drunk, drugged, or selling. Except Francisco, who wasn’t simply broke but in debt to his Latino lookout. He had to pay up to protect his reputation on the street among dealers, prostitutes, and pickpockets.

Francisco bore the name of the patron saint of his mother’s village but related more to the West Coast city which explained his alias, Calif for California. The flashy nickname never stuck. A few people called him Paco, though. His parents, a Moroccan mechanic and a pure-blood Spanish cleaning lady from L’Hospitalet, teased him as a toddler calling him feo, or ugly. He never truly outgrew that one. Skinny with acne-pocked skin, Francisco possessed wit, charm and street smarts. His overly gummy smile somehow endeared him to policemen and older women. They all saw something salvageable in him, perhaps even a hint of honor. In fact, by snitching on lowlife acquaintances and pleasantly providing knockoff luxe items, he had earned the trust of undercover cops and other players in the barrio. His universe was the core of Barcelona, a labyrinth of old neighborhoods proud of their original parish names and mentalities. He rarely smelled the salt air or gazed out onto the murky Mediterranean. Any experience of a beach, like la Barceloneta, was limited and likely illicit.

Francisco slipped in sideways onto the backseat and yanked on the flimsy plastic panel dividing the bench seat from the storage compartment of a silver-gray Renault 5 parked half up on the curb. This model was like a gift begging to be opened. Grimacing, breathing hard, he began grabbing any objects worth stealing.

Bruised apples and mushy black plums, duty-free premium whiskey as well as fluorescent green rain ponchos were rapidly rejected. In the glove compartment, a pair of sunglasses brought a grin to his chapped lips. This inventory wasn’t great but equaled his debt. Unlocked canvas luggage made for quick work. Within three minutes it was already clear: no cash, no cameras, no electronics, no jewelry. Only well-folded men’s casual shirts, vivid cotton-knit sweaters and gently scuffed loafers tucked into shoe bags. Cursing, Francisco stopped short when he spied the white plastic suit carrier marked CASA di MODA. It shone at that sepia-toned hour.

Italian! Armani? Francisco exhaled the name. Although the thief looked like a sewer rat, with stringy chin-length hair and cruddy fingernails, he changed shirts regularly and never used supermarket colonia, only designer copy stuff with names like Calvin Klien, Acua de Parna, Maximo Duti, Eau Savage. Francisco implicitly grasped the street value of the finer things in life, found in airport duty-free shops, frequently bought as last-minute gifts. He had a few real specimens, or so he claimed. Armani he knew best from a round-faced Salvadoreño vendor who sold tasteful copycat Versace scarves or LV anything at a lot where cruise excursion coaches parked.

kcamp300
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Re: NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by kcamp300 » July 26th, 2020, 11:04 am

Title: Power Failure
Genre: Memoir
First 250 words

Gathering at the base of the power pole on Fillmore Street, the evening rush-hour crowd looked up. The lineman dangled by a leather belt, head thrown back, arms splayed. Above him a canister-shaped electric transformer hung askew. His double-parked truck blocked the street. With power knocked out, electric trolleys stalled from the corner of Fillmore and Haight all the way back to San Francisco’s Marina District.

Vehicles took turns inching by the truck, honking, shooting around to avoid crashing into oncoming cars. A man brandishing a silver lunchbox toward the body, shouted, “He’s electrocuted!” A powdery faced woman shrieked, “He’s dead!” Sounds of sirens grew louder; the milling crowd went silent, listened.

The fire department’s hook-and-ladder truck got there first, followed by an ambulance and police squad car. The cops got out, directed traffic, cleared the way for a brown and tan boom truck. Linemen jingling pole-climbing gear jumped out of the back, pushed through the crowd, climbed pell-mell to the cross arm. A thumbs up told supervisors on the ground the lineman was alive. Using ropes and a sling, they lowered him to the sidewalk.

The Pacific Gas & Electric Company supervisors rushed forward; a stretcher lay on the ground, ambulance doors yawned wide open waiting to receive the victim. The lineman stood up, swayed, looked around at the crowd, batted away helping hands, refused to lie down. The men supporting him smelled liquor, rushed him to the backseat of a waiting company car. They took my father back to the PG&E yard and fired him.

Kermit1941
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Page 1 Chapter 1 First Novel attempt

Post by Kermit1941 » August 13th, 2020, 4:15 pm

¬¬¬¬Coming into Power
Chapter 1: Prologue: Introducing the lead characters:
Helen sat between her close friends, Slim, and Geova in Slim’s ancient white camper truck with the smooth front bench seat, which Slim had inherited from his grandfather. Every time they rode in that truck, Slim had apologized for the noise it made. She ignored his apology and enjoyed daydreaming about their music performance together that evening. She considered Geova to be the best fiddle player she had ever heard, and Slim’s guitar music always sounded perfect. The three of them made an excellent team. None of them had any way of knowing about the bolt of energy that would soon dramatically transform their lives and which was now at a distance approximately equal to six times the distance to the orbit of the planet Neptune.
She held their performance advertisement flyers on her lap. Slim had done a really good job when he designed this one. Their name, "Vocal Strings", almost seemed to jump out. She liked the way he used musical notes to make up the letters. Below their band name were pictures of the three of them. Geova, being the blond handsome guy, stood slightly behind and between them. She ran her fingers over the three figures in the picture, tracing out Geova's wavy blond hair, Slim's curly black hair, and her own long straight light brown hair.
When she had first met Slim and Geova, she had asked them about the origin of their names. Slim had said, “My name reflects a distant past. In Holland, it means that I am smart.” He smiled as he said this.

grimester
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First Page Query-First novel

Post by grimester » August 14th, 2020, 5:27 pm

Despair and Hope: Prologue
As flames engulfed the grotesque face of the monstrous 50-foot marionette, Zozobra’s horrendous growls and moans tore at Joe Rockwell’s soul. A host of people gathered in the darkness of Santa Fe’s Fort Marcy Park crowding in on him like the suffocating grief Joe had felt since his wife, Maggie, had lost her battle with cancer two months ago.
Thousands flocked to Santa Fe each year on the Thursday before Labor Day to the Burning of Zozobra, held during the Fiestas de Santa Fe. Zozobra, or “Old Man Gloom,” along the participants’ personal representations of their struggles, pain and disappointment of the past year, were destroyed in a deluge of flames and fireworks. Joe and Maggie came the year they moved to Santa Fe -- more than 10 years ago now -- and had been hooked.
It was a great exercise to write down their struggles -- losses, disappointments and problems -- and bring them to the festival. They would stand arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand and cheer as their gloom was destroyed in the inferno. Something about that physical process made a tangible emotional difference. On the way home, they found new excitement building toward the possibilities of the next year, and ideas began to flow.
This year was different. Maggie was not there, and that was it. His source of gloom. Tonight, Joe brought Maggie’s death certificate. This single item represented the nightmare this year had been: her final struggle with breast cancer, the pain and

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

Post by jpgormally » August 15th, 2020, 4:54 pm

On the night of April 30th, 1975, Jack Kendall laid in his bed in Northern Virginia listening to the local radio talk show discussing the day’s events including the departure of President Nixon from the White House in 1974, gas storages, and protests of the Vietnam war. Beginning to fall asleep, he hears a news flash that forever changes his life and sets into motion several observations only to lead to a lifelong journey to Vietnam. As the DJ’s interrupts the music “This is WIEE 1310 AM radio, we confirm that Saigon (HCMC) has just fallen, after 10 years of war, the Vietnam War has just ended, thank God” said the Disc Jockey.  Jack sat up in this bed and repeated these works “Saigon (HCMC) has fallen”, these words raised his curiosity of these events and began a series of events driving path of destiny that he deeply wants to follow.
Jack dug into several media sources, including the Washington Post and NBC news. He saw images of people climbing over the wall at the U.S Embassy in Saigon (HCMC) trying to get on the last helicopters leaving Vietnam. The pain and distraught of this people only questioned Jack’s doubts this war and what the entire issue was about. “Why did the US. Government leave so many people behind that supported them?” said Jack.   NBC news shows the American servicemen pushing helicopters off the USS Midway, forgoing their promise to go back and get more people out of Saigon (HCMC). 
Along with several news stories around the helicopters being pushed over the end of the ship, President Ford in along with the Roman Catholic Church in Vietnam helped organize “Operation BabyLift”. An operation designed to land a series of C141 Military transports at the airport in Vietnam to help the orphans get out the country. The catholic nuns of Saigon (HCMC) helped load the babies in boxes, then with the help of the plane crew, trying to load as many children as they could. 1500 babies made it out, Jack asked himself, “what happened to the rest of the babies?”.  “What happened to the nuns? Why did they not leave?”.  Jack could not understand why these Nuns risked their lives by staying behind when Saigon (HCMC) had fallen to the North Vietnamese arm. Jack, a man a faith, believes that God looks over all children, believes there must have some reason for these Nuns to stay. The newspapers did not provide any detail around the Nuns, only that 1500 orphans escaped on these planes. “Did all the children get out? What happened to the children that never made it out of the country? American soldiers orphaned many of these children. Will the new government push these Nuns for what they do?” said Jack. The images of those children and the people trying to climb the embassy gate stayed with Jack for years to come. 

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

Post by NeilH » August 22nd, 2020, 7:30 am

Oops, screwed up. Don’t know how to delete this.
Last edited by NeilH on August 23rd, 2020, 3:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by NeilH » August 22nd, 2020, 7:43 am

Title: The Simeon Scroll
Genre: Thriller


The man came rapidly out of a troubled sleep. He lay there in the darkness, unsure for a moment where he was. He moved his head cautiously, his eyes gradually adjusting to the gloom, trying to identify what had awoken him, but aware only of the rapid thump of his heart.
Familiarity returned slowly. A temporary bed in temporary accommodation. He realized he was holding his breath and let it out with a quivering sigh, still trying to identify the strange disquiet he felt. But it remained elusive.
He pushed aside the coarse blanket and swung his legs out of the narrow cot. An ancient slit window cast a pale pool of moonlight into his humble accommodation, a room barely wider than his outstretched arms. A hint of sickly, sweet sulfur wafted in on the early morning desert breeze, carried up from the shore of the Dead Sea, three hundred feet below.
He padded across the cold stone floor in his bare feet and filled an earthenware bowl from a large jug. He splashed the cool water on his face and across his body, then dried himself quickly. He slipped on a sweatshirt and worn denim pants, and stepped into a pair of leather sandals, then pulled on a traditional, grey, monk’s habit.
He stood for a moment of contemplation, repeating a silent prayer. But it did little for the unease that sat deep and disquieting in his gut.

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

Post by KJJackson » September 1st, 2020, 9:21 am

An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.
Pliny The Younger


Title: You Belong To Me
Genre: Suspense/Thriller


Slumbrous eyes fluttered under closed lids as the familiar yet unidentifiable scent of a stranger invaded her subconscious. Plastic snapped somewhere between sleep and reality, and Delia stared through bleary lenses. A tingle filled her chest. Is someone in here? Ears pricked, her heart thumped as she scanned the room. In the semi-darkness, her eyes darted across the vacant bed to the nightstand with the gun inside. Her belly clenched, her fingers touched her bare ring finger and rubbed. The cotton blanket bounced with each breath. A soft glow from the nightlights dispelled the darkness. The feeling of being watched eased from her chest, and she took a shuddering breath.
Metal clinked from the vicinity of the den. What is that? Delia bolted from bed; bare feet slapped in quick succession on the Brazillian hardwood past her daughters’ closed door, relieved the room was empty. Hefting a hand-carved wooden statue overhead, she eased around a corner. A shadow moved like a movie reel between the incandescent swatches of moonlight through the vertical blinds. Eyes wide, her pulse jumped. A frog croaked. What the heck! Her foot lost purchase, and Delia landed hard on her right hip. Ow! The statue thudded, beside her head. Pinpricks of light danced above. She clamored to her feet, the gown whispered against her ankles, and her heart skipped. She released a shaky breath. Crap, I left my phone. Each footfall tightened the knot in her belly, making her ribs ache. Snatching the phone from the nightstand, she made her way back to the living room and peeked out. Her labored breath fogged a circle on the glass as she scanned the semi-dark world outside.

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

Post by chuckmall » September 10th, 2020, 5:09 pm

Title: Lena, Wild Girl on the Prairie
Genre: Middle-grade fiction


The snake was the last straw.

Lena and her family had traveled over a more rutted road than Lena could ever remember riding. The constant bouncing was annoying.

Even worse, it made the two babies squall.

Lena's little sister Ida kept wanting Lena to play "finger game" with her, which was boring because it was not really a game. It was simply a four-year-old playing with Lena's fingers. At least Ida was quiet now. If not, that would have meant three screaming little girls.

Gene got to sit in the front seat of the wagon with Hiram, their stepfather, just because he was a boy. Lena and Ma sat inside the wagon, next to the little ones, not catching a breeze, and trying to endure the bumping.

Then there was the snake.

A big snake, acting queer, writhed in front of the wagon--led by Lena and Gene's horses--which caused the horses to rear up and stomp. Usually a snake would crawl away.

"Maybe it's sick," Gene commented.

"I hate to waste a bullet on the thing," Hiram grumbled.

Lena scooted to the front of the wagon to look.

Hiram yanked his head toward her. "Get back there and quieten those babies," he said.

She was not important to him, except to work. Lena decided to jump out of the back of the wagon and look at the snake. Hiram continued to try controlling the horses and keep the wagon from shaking too much.

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

Post by AndrewStiller » September 17th, 2020, 7:40 pm

Dear Agent:

If you are familiar with THE STATIONERY SHOP, by Marjan Kamali, you may be interested in representing THE PROMISE which shares similar thematic elements.

In the late summer of 1961, a young German couple, Willie and Mina, are forced to live on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. Willie finds himself trapped in East Berlin. With no resources at his disposal, he must find a way to remain undetected in order to escape and reunite with Mina who has been living with friends in the West. After months of careful planning and preparation, he makes his way through the sewer system to freedom, but not before being seriously wounded in a shootout with a pair of guards. Upon his recovery he asks for Mina and learns that, in his long absence, her fashion career has successfully launched and she is no longer living in Germany.

Willie promises to find Mina and begins his search with little information to guide him. His travels take him to the colorful fashion district of Paris where a chance encounter with an older gentleman, Pierre, holds the key to reuniting the young couple. But before Pierre can help, he must first come to terms with the demons from his own past that have estranged him from the people he loves.

THE PROMISE is upmarket fiction at 70,000 words. The story is inspired by my travels through Eastern Europe during the height of the Cold War and is a tribute to three generations of women in my family who are accomplished dressmakers.

I would be thrilled if you would consider THE PROMISE for representation. Thank you very much, and I hope to speak with you soon.

Andrew Stiller

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

Post by Dugarte » September 19th, 2020, 7:08 pm

Title: Flight of the Pirate Witch
Genre: YA SFF
Copyright 2020

I was falling, desperately fighting gravity and doubt.

My flying contraption raced downhill at breakneck speed. I could barely keep course down the hillside. Deviation might end in death, or worse, irreparable damage to my machine.

The dead Slayer bat’s seven meter wingspan combined with a modified velocipede were my only hope of escaping my nightmarish home, to reach someplace where no one knew me, where sky pirates did not take what they wanted with impunity.

The memory from my first and only visit on an airship was a black cloud, threatening to overwhelm me. I squeezed my eyes shut, pedaling harder against the horror chasing after me.

Chiroptera could fly if her pilot could overcome her fear.

The only thing holding me back, is myself!

I blindly lurched up a hillock and hurtled into the air.

Weightlessness. I gasped, keeping my eyes clenched shut in disbelief.

Legs burning at the pedals, wings beating so wildly the bones creaked, the wind rushed through the feathers of my hair band, setting my long locks streaming.

Am I really flying?

I dared to squint down and saw the slope two meters beneath my wheels. I was soaring!

Mouth agape, heart leaping, I savored triumph.

Behind me, the golden sun set over a smoldering volcano. A black knife of smoke cut through the light, dripping a bloody glow of reflected lava.

Ahead, bruise colored nightfall swallowed the ocean’s endless horizon. Clouds dimmed into oblivion over the tide’s eternal susurrus. Cold, quiet solitude beckoned.

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

Post by moserwrites » September 24th, 2020, 4:29 pm

Title: Mudville
Genre: Literary Fiction

Sunnybrook wasn’t a baseball town. Despite its name, winter in Sunnybrook was cold and long. Summer was brief, hot and dry. Spring and fall combined to fill up the other four weeks of the calendar year. An eight-month winter didn’t make for an offseason conducive for baseball practice, and baseball games under a skin-blistering summer sun weren’t the recipe for a good time either. Hence, Sunnybrook turned its back on the national pastime in favor of basketball, which could be played inside on the freshly varnished hardwood of the high school gymnasium. Meteorological challenges aside, Martin Thayer organized the town’s first-ever little league baseball program when he moved the Thayer clan to Sunnybrook in the fall of 1983.

Building a little league program was not easy work, especially for the new guy in town. Martin had to fight with the basketball program, which was afraid of a competing sport plucking away its players. He had to fight with local officials who had friends in the basketball program. Mostly, though, he had to fight with the idea that baseball, in general, was boring. But Martin was stubborn and worked all winter bullying up local support, approving league rules, recruiting coaches and umpires, and begging enough donations to purchase catcher’s equipment and baseballs to play with after the thaw. By the time summer rolled around, there were four teams navigating the ankle-breaking grass of the outfield. Unfortunately, they played on a softball diamond with incorrect little league dimensions.

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

Post by the.jbrian » September 29th, 2020, 8:31 pm

Title: Unlikely Villain - A Cautionary Tale
Genre: Semi-Autobiographical novel

There are some experiences that, if you walk away with an unchanged perspective on life, maybe you shouldn’t have bothered walking away. They’re those once-in-a-lifetime moments that tower above a lifetime of ordinary moments, dwarfing even the regular monumental landmark occasions where life forks. For this unlikely villain, one stands out above all others, ominous at any distance. It is a tombstone stacked on a mile-high pile of resentments; the whole world can see it casting an impossibly long shadow out of the graveyard and into the land of the living. It belongs to the guy who used to be me. It marks where he died.

I wasn’t expecting much of a Christmas the year that my first life ended. As years go, it had been one for the record books. Not in a good way, mind you - but worthy of note all the same. It seemed as though every page of the calendar had taken a turn at trying to break me.

Back in January the realization that I had made a horrible career move dawned upon me. What had at first appeared to be a gift-wrapped dream job was actually more of a waking nightmare – but a nightmare that I had to suffer through a commute that I wouldn’t wish on almost anyone, in order to get to. The job, and its associated commute, was costing me my physical and mental health.

Then in February, I had to make the decision to stop my father’s cancer treatment and concentrate on his quality of life. We lost Pop the next month. Well, we didn’t actually lose him, he died. And a few months after that, my wife and I suffered our 5th miscarriage. That was just before her birthday. Frankly, we could have done without that.

If you’ve ever struggled with infertility, then you will understand that where ordinary folks would have taken a break, we did not. We had the drugs we needed, carryover from previous attempts. We the support network in place, all the folks at the clinic were familiar with us and what we had been through. I had gotten to superpower level skill at giving my wife injections. I knew where all the good parking spots were at this clinic, like I had so many clinics before. We had a last frozen embryo. We went for broke. You should be aware at the outset that I’m agonizing over this book, and not because of our fertility story’s happy ending.

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