Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

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

Post by Moni » June 9th, 2010, 7:36 pm

Title: Out of My Body
Genre: Young Adult

Removed because I got an agent! :D
Last edited by Moni on July 8th, 2011, 9:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by cnord2 » June 9th, 2010, 7:44 pm



October 1862
Seven miles west of Falmouth, Virginia

A bitter wind slammed hard against the tattered countryside, sucking warmth from the morning. Emaline McDaniels rocked back in the saddle when she heard the shout. She glanced over her shoulder, her eyes widening. Her farrier rode toward her across the ragged tobacco fields and an eerie sensation washed over her at the lines of alarm carved across the old man’s aged, ebony face. Her heart lurched against her ribs as her mind scrambled for answers. Something’s happened…he wouldn’t ride out here otherwise.

She spurred her horse around to meet him. “What’s wrong?”

Tacker’s hand raised and he pointed a gnarled finger eastward. “Yankees, Miz’ Emaline! Dey’s comin’ up the road from Falmouth!”


She leaned over and gripped his workworn sleeve. “Are you sure they’re not the home guard?”

“No, ma’am. I seen ‘em, ‘dey’s blue riders, for sure. Hundreds of ‘em.” The two field hands moved closer to listen to their exchange. The farrier acknowledged them with a quick nod.

“Everyone back to the quarters,” Emaline ordered, sinking back into the leather. “And use the wagon road along the river. It’ll be safer.”

“Ain’t you comin’ with us?”

“No. Now move along quickly, all of you. And keep out of sight.” She snapped the reins and her horse headed straight across the fields toward the red-bricked mansion that hugged the far edge of the horizon. Faster and faster, she urged her mare, the spongy ground beneath the animal’s hooves churning up into clods of flying mud. Aside from a few skirmishes nearby, the war had politely stayed east along the Old Plank Road around Fredericksburg. Just as her horse crested the small hillock near the main house, she jerked back hard on the leather reins.

Waves of nausea welled up from Emaline’s belly.

“Oh my God . . .” she whispered.

Off to her far right, a column of cavalrymen numbering into the hundreds approached. The dust cloud stirred up by their horses draped in a heavy haze across the late-morning air. In numbed fascination, she stared at the pulsing line of blue-coated soldiers, a slithering serpent of destruction a quarter of a mile long.

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

Post by ElizaJane » June 9th, 2010, 7:49 pm

Title: Operation Cassandra
Genre: tween/YA time travel
Chapter 1: Wrong Face
(250 words)

Waking up that morning was the hardest thing Cass had ever done, like clawing out from beneath a mudslide. She was suffocating in the clotted thickness of sleep. She was drowning in a torrent of icy water. She was awake, sputtering and gasping for breath.
“What the– What the heck?” She tried to lash out, but she’d been tied up – no, she was tangled in stiff sheets and heavy blankets. In a wet frenzy, she fought to unwind herself, forced open her night-gummed eyes.
The first thing she saw was a blond girl with a satisfied grin on her face and a dripping sponge in her hands, which she hastily dropped on the floor when she saw Cass noticing it. “Well, that’s got you moving.” She had an English accent, and she was a complete stranger.
Cass blinked and brushed the water from her eyes, but it didn’t help. She had no idea where she was. Morning sunlight streamed through two dormer windows into a white-walled, slope-ceilinged bedroom. Beside the bed was a low bookcase with a collection of model horses posed across its top shelf. They stared at her with expressions of dull accusation, as if they knew she didn’t belong here.
Stay calm. It’s okay. I’m still asleep.
The girl turned her back to Cass and grabbed her hair in two fists, yanking it away from either side of her head. “So tell me, am I straight?”
I’m dreaming. Or possibly I’ve been transported to a mental hospital.

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Critique Page for Pam McCord: First Paragraph

Post by pmccord805 » June 9th, 2010, 7:50 pm

First Paragraph

The little girl couldn’t have been more than seven. She looked cold and fragile as she sat facing the old tombstone in the deserted tumbledown cemetery. The wind whistled through the branches of the towering oaks scattered throughout the graveyard, rustling the brown and gold leaves as it gusted among the resting places of centuries of bones. She was oblivious to her shivering, as she hugged her bent knees and whispered the words that had come to her in her dreams.
Her flimsy cotton nightgown, flapping against her thin legs, gave no protection against the cold, and fine white blonde hair whipped around her face. Her eyes were closed and her mouth moved silently, the sound carried away by the chill wind.
Her voice rose and she turned her face up to the sky, but her eyes remained closed. The fervency on the little girl’s face seemed out of place in one so young and innocent. How could she know of such emotions as were reflected in the changing expressions that crossed her face? Her words, louder as she raised her voice, were still lost to anyone near enough to listen. Her body stiffened as she raised one arm and pointed with a crooked stick toward the crumbling gravestone, it’s ancient letters no longer decipherable.
She didn’t feel the hand that gripped her shoulder until it gave her a shake.


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

Post by clararose » June 9th, 2010, 7:55 pm

No title yet
Chapter 12

Emma shot straight up in her cot, it was dark outside and she struggled to decide if it was evening still... or if she had slept through the night. They had called it an early night after supper and she had been asleep almost before her head hit the pillow, even after her power nap earlier that day. Glancing around the tent she could see that Reed was not in his sleeping bag, it looked as if he had exited quickly.

The loud voices and commotion outside the tent caused a slight panic to rise in Emma’s chest. She hurried into her clothes and boots, rushing out into the darkness.
The mess tent was filled with a cloud of thick billowing smoke but she could see that the back corner was missing… obviously there had been a fire. Smoldering embers and a couple of flashlights offered the only small flickers of light; Emma paused forcing her eyes to adjust.

Emma wondered how she could have slept through such an event. She quickly scanned to find Reed amidst the confusion; a slight whimper escaped her lips as she rushed to his side.

Reed was crouched down beside Ethan as they both fussed over Sara, lying on the ground.

“What happened… is she alright,” Emma felt the fear rise in her chest again. Falling to her knees beside Sara, she was relieved to see that her eyes were open. Pain written on her face, Sara clinched her jaw as Ethan gently wrapped her lower arm and hand in sterile gauze. The burn had already blistered and Sara’s hand was almost double its normal size. Emma felt a little light headed, slumping to the ground, she steady herself.

“We’ve had a little accident, but everything is going to be fine,” Reed reassured his wife, knowing that she did tend to panic easily.
Bud and Brad poked around the debris that was left behind, in the back of what use to be the mess tent. Pushing over pieces of the crates that once held the food supply and assorted necessities, they broke up any clumps that harbored a glow.

“The radio is toast,” called out Brad as he pushed over the chard table remains. “Only one raft survived.”

Rita appeared from somewhere with a cold rag for Sara’s forehead, “Here dear, I have some water and pain pills; you’re going to need these.” Sara didn’t argue with the motherly woman, raising her head just enough to swallow the tablets with a sip of the water.

Emma sat feeling helpless; she had never been very good in a crisis. The tears streaming out of the corner of Sara’s eyes brought tears to her own, how can this be happening? She shivered as she realized for the first time that it was a chilly morning.

The sun was slowing creeping toward the horizon and the added light was a welcomed comfort to the group as they rallied to take inventory of the situation and care for Sara.

Once Sara was resting on her cot, Ethan called the group of campers together. The sun was up and some decisions had to be made.

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

Post by Daibhin » June 9th, 2010, 8:03 pm

The Portal
Paranormal Mystery
234 words

It rained the night I died. Not a heavy rain; more a gentle mist. It moistened my upturned face and the ungainly sack that once was my body, and now lay on the concrete path.
Through my dead eyes I watched the clouds part to let the moon peek between them and cast its wavering reflection on the wet glass of the open window above - my open window.
Perhaps I should rise and let this dead thing become the empty shell people always refer to when speaking of corpses. Yet an odd apathy filled me: a “who cares” lassitude that made me unwilling to find my way to—
Who screamed? Whoever she was she had great lungs, and pitch. She kept going longer than a human had a right to. In a short time windows creaked open. I found that somewhat reassuring. Light flooded across my face from an open doorway. People rushed from houses and flats, jackets over their heads, struggling to open umbrellas: called, I supposed, by the female shrieks.
‘Is she okay?’
‘Who is it?’
‘Stand back, give’r air.’ The command came from a man, but I couldn’t see the owner. I suspected he might be the lawyer at the end of our street - the neighbourhood Mr. Well-known and well-heeled.
I did wonder why he would think air could help me until I realised someone lay across my legs.
Last edited by Daibhin on June 9th, 2010, 8:15 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Location: Manhattan

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

Post by henyad » June 9th, 2010, 8:04 pm

Title: Black Diamonds
Genre: Women’s Literary Fiction
(237 words)

They had just finished eating an uncomfortable brunch on a Sunday afternoon at Samie’s Deli in West Hollywood.
“You young people!” Sofie’s father said, pointing his finger at Jamie. “You think life is a joke. What do you have to show for it? Children? Family? No, you’ve got none of that! No respect for tradition.”
Jamie felt the heat rise in her face. Sofie’s parents… their dark clothes smelling of mothballs, their accusing eyes, the mother’s black wig, the father’s sparse hair and yarmulke.
“What tradition?” she said. “This is the seventies.”
Sofie’s father widened his eyes at her. “You know what your problem is?”
Sofie’s mother adjusted her wig and grunted.
“Problem?” A few people sitting at the next table turned their heads to give Jamie an appraising glance.
“You have no morality. I will never accept this…this nonsense.”
Jamie looked at Sofie, who picked up a napkin and began shredding it. So much for unity. No backbone, Jamie thought. She turned back to Sofie’s father. “And you do? You think your religion is the same as morality?”
Sofie’s father leaned over and spat in Jamie’s face.
In the stony silence that followed, Jamie grabbed his napkin, wiped the spit off her cheek and threw it in his face. She looked over to where Sofie was sitting. Sofie wouldn’t meet Jamie’s eyes. She bolted up from the table; the chair flew back, toppled to the floor.

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

Post by maven » June 9th, 2010, 8:28 pm

Title: Roaring Rocks
Genre: Thriller
248 words

Ava strides through the cool, darkened bullpen, the green ticker tape casting reflections on the opposite wall of glass, and as always, she pictures Chase naked. Even though this is Scolman Securities, ensconced on the thirtieth floor of a steel and glass cylinder overlooking Boston Harbor, and not Lehman Brothers, some things haven’t changed.

She steps into Chase Scolly’s private office, walls of windows revealing the slate twilight of October. A banker’s eyeshade on his desk casts amber light on piles of documents. Chase glances up, flashing his trademark smile, which some call a smirk. Ava has never recognized it, even after her discovery last week that Chase, instead of being one of the savviest money managers of all time—better than Peter Lynch and Warren Buffet—was running a gigantic Ponzi scheme.

“Sooo,” he says, gazing at her. “Can I trust you? After all, I’m such a good judge of female character.” Chase winks, loosens his tie, and removes his bifocals.

Chase’s two divorces decades earlier rendered him a cynical bachelor. Ava wishes he wasn’t so hot, with his surfer’s blond hair, angular chin, and hard body. He makes her weak. He’s fifty but looks forty. She’s thirty-five but doesn’t care about the age difference. She settles into an Italian leather chair, as usual, so she won’t arouse suspicion.

“You need to trust someone,” Ava says, “and I’m the only one who knows. Sooner or later, everyone will.” She removes her Versace suit jacket and tosses it.

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

Post by pdr » June 9th, 2010, 8:35 pm

Title: Bella Figura
Genre: Mystery

She came from the sky like an angel.

She came toward him, emerging from the clouds as if one of God’s messengers, sent from the heavens to warn him, to protect him.

Standing at her funeral three days later, David Isabella remembers watching her fall, wanting to know what it was she had come to tell him.


Traffic at a dead stop, rush hour but no one rushing. In the car, convertible top down, Isabella had the camera pressed to his cheek, at the ready, an old habit. He followed the lines of the building upward, moved the camera to his eye, and snapped a few shots.

Distracted by a sky full of agitated birds. Pigeons, he thought, scattered from the ledges by the near-blind janitor. One emerged from the flock, falling too quickly, falling toward him.

Somehow he understood. His left hand came up to steady the camera, and he squeezed the trigger, holding it down, following as she came toward him, the camera firing, advancing, firing.

This was no bird falling from the sky. This was a woman coming toward him, angelic, borne on the air, carrying her message. A woman, flesh and bone, living and breathing until the instant she slammed into the hood of his car. He never let up on the camera’s trigger, not after the impact, not after the camera cut into his face, shooting the last frames through the shattered windshield, firing until the film was gone and the electric advance jerked to a stop.

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

Post by ashleezak » June 9th, 2010, 9:00 pm

Title: Whispers in the Dark
Genre: Science Fiction
Words: 249

It was supposed to be a routine arrest. The Peacekeepers swarmed in unison, catching the quartet just as the drugs were changing hands. Two of the throwaways were taken without incident, but the rain obscuring the crime scene allowed the dealer to run, the other junkie hard on his heels.
One officer chased after them, diving on the throwaway as she slipped on the wet street. Although tiny, she fought ferociously to free herself. The Peacekeeper cuffed her and dragged her back to the holding van. Within moments, the street was empty.

The holding cell was crowded, and the tiny throwaway sat slouched in the corner, trying to keep from sight. No sign of the fight from earlier was evident. She sat, picking at the encrusted tattoo adhesive that circled her neck and wrists. Street drugs were administered through sticky pictures, making them easy to transport and easier to deal. The blackened residue was the result of months of using without proper hygiene.

As the detainees were processed, the cell emptied out, leaving the girl. Given her previous behavior, the officer watched her warily as he pulled her to her feet. She was docile as they walked back to the processing center.

He shoved her hand under the scanner. The electronic screech that sounded barely caused a blink from the throwaway, but the officer jumped. As instructions flowed across the monitor, the man’s jaw dropped.

“I don’t know what you’ve done, girl, but we’re going to see the colonel.”

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

Post by writerdean » June 9th, 2010, 9:09 pm


Word Count 253

The silvery light of a nearly-full moon should have been comforting. For most people it would've been peaceful even, but it pulled at my anger with surprising strength as I bounded across the arid Southern-Utah terrain.

Darkly-furred, four-legged shapes ghosted through the darkness on either side of me as we slid between the softly-glowing pillars of trees. Jasmin, arguably the closest thing I had to a best friend, dove through a latticework of light and then it was my turn to feel the undergrowth grasping at my fur in an effort to slow my progress.

The warm evening breeze carried a host of aromas too subtle for merely human noses to identify. In our four-footed forms each molecule was unconsciously sorted and cataloged, leaving us free to concentrate on the elusive scent of our prey.

The other pack, a portion at least, was less than a mile away, far enough into our territory for it to be a killable offense if they were caught. They'd become increasingly arrogant over the last few months, but coming in close enough to threaten our families was a whole new level of provocation. Even their leader, Brandon, wasn't usually so bold.

A stray eddy of wind played across my muzzle, and I knew they'd made their first mistake. I pressed into my second in command for a moment, conveying an order through posture and motion, and then nipped at Jasmin's heels, the two of us stretching out in a full sprint.

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

Post by PoppysInARow » June 9th, 2010, 9:10 pm

Title: In The Eye of Death
Genre: YA Fantasy
Words: 258 (Hope I don't get in trouble for the extra words.

Jonah would never forget the day he died.

“So, tell me, what was it like? Being dead and all?”

Though that was because no one would let him.

Jonah nearly snapped his quill in two. He’d tried to find peace from the monastery, and from the young monks who would stare openly at him when he passed. For the past six months he’d been the talk of the village as the boy who died and came back to life.

The boy who had met the God of Death.

Jonah raised his eyes to Demetrius. The boy was hanging on a branch before him, an impish grin crawling across his lips. The pixies that Jonah had tried to draw launched into the air and flew away, spooked by Jonah’s rising anger. Sounds of birds and animals from the woods around them drifted into a pleasant white noise. Seated in the redwoods hundreds of feet in the air, everything seemed to fade away. It was like touching the heavens.

“Well?” Demetrius prodded. “C’mon, tell me. What’s it like?”

Jonah wanted to throw Demetrius off the high branch they sat on and send him tumbling to the forest floor. Logic disrupted fantasy when he remembered Demetrius, at seventeen, was much stronger than him.

Jonah pulled his eyes back down to his half-finished drawing. “I can’t get a moment of peace, can I?”

Demetrius laughed, looking wild and unkempt with a mane of long brown hair. It was longer than monastery regulations. “Of course not. You knew that when we became friends.”
Insert Witty Signature Here.

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

Post by AmyVirgin » June 9th, 2010, 9:16 pm

Genre: Young Adult
Book One in the Hope Valley Trilogy
Book Title: Once Upon A Time
Chapter Title: First Glance
First Page: 251 words

The small speedboat rounded the bend along the tree-lined mainland and sixteen year old Manuel Sutherland jumped out of his seat to point ahead of them. “There it is! Hope Valley!”

Elena reached out to pull her son down with a stern, “Sit down or you’ll fall out of the boat Manuel!” In spite of the tone, her Latin accent softened her words.

Manuel fairly bounced in his seat, never taking his eyes off the little village nestled beneath the Rocky Mountains.

His fourteen year old sister Angie sighed and turned to follow his gaze. She took one glance at the small collection of cottages half hidden among the trees and snorted in derision.

“This is a town? They must be joking. There’s nothing here!” Her comment was rewarded with an exasperated look from her father. She ignored his frown but lowered her voice to avoid being scolded. Crossing her arms she scowled at her annoying brother. “Where are the libraries, the stores, the art galleries?” It was easy to miss the hustle and bustle of the big city. What did people do for fun around here? Did they sit around and fish all day? Chop down trees? Maybe they just did schoolwork all day. How boring.

“Well, this is depressing. We should have stayed in Quito, where there’s always something to do. I miss Ecuador already.” Angie huddled deeper into her raincoat, chewed on the drawstring of her raincoat and blinked back the tears that gathered in her dark eyes.

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

Post by mommalikabooty » June 9th, 2010, 9:27 pm

Title:The Suburban Spy
Genre: chick lit/spy lit

Hitting a bimbo with my car should have been the most exciting event of my day. Especially because that bimbo was the same one who’d pushed her cleavage in my husband’s face at the Stellner’s dinner party last week.

Not that I hit her with my car because of how she came onto my husband.

I swear.

But it just so happened that hitting this particular bimbo with my car on this particular morning instigated a chain of events much more exciting than the ding in my hood, her broken leg, or the simple fact of running down bimbos outside of Kirkland Elementary School. It instigated a chain of events where I, Liz Murdock, became a spy.

I’d been sitting in the drop-off lane of Kirkland Elementary for fifteen minutes trying to calm my impatience while Rose Tamblyn de-latched her son, Devon, from her midsection where he was hanging like a monkey-- and screeching like one, too.

It was Thursday, Mom’s morning out for my fifteen-month-old baby, Matilda, who goes to East United Baptist because they have a lovely older woman there who looks just like her Grandma Marie. I rely on this woman’s physical resemblance to get some rare alone-time. I’m also forced to pull out the ‘good snacks’, aka juice boxes and Chips Ahoy snack packs, before sneaking out of the Baptist church, leaving my baby in a sugar-induced haze.

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

Post by Kalthandrix » June 9th, 2010, 9:55 pm

Title: Knowledge
Genre: High Fantasy

Chapter 1 - Phnor

The cry that split the cool morning air launched entire flocks of akalats and red-necked nightjars into the sky above the Tir Forest with an accompanying chorus of startled peeps and kyok-kyok-kyok.

The sorrowful wail carried on and on as if a soul were screaming and had lost the capacity for anything but pain. When it subsided, a hush settled into the void leaving a heavy silence around the log-sided house surrounded by a small clearing in the woods. A thin stream of smoke wafting from its fieldstone chimney.

Weeds clustered among the wilted flowers that outlined the perimeter of the dwelling. A small garden, located behind the one story home and next to a thatch-roofed shed, was similarly cluttered with straggly growth. A portion of the garden’s low fence had fallen and allowed animals—such as the small hare crouched next to a row of tender shoots—free reign of its bounty.

Inside, a dirt trail marked a path across the hardwood floors and clumps of mud decorated the boot horn and mat by the front entrance. Sky-blue curtains hung from the windows in the kitchen and sitting room; the fabric’s once bright color dimmed by the coating of dust that clung to it. Shirts, rough-spun towels, and even a sock with a gaping hole in the toe were scattered along the length the dining table alongside dirty mugs, utensils, and glazed bowls.

Amidst the lived-in disorder the sound of helpless weeping could be heard issuing from Phnor as he knelt next to a low, cream-colored couch. Sobs shook his burly frame as he hunched over and gazed at what lay nestled in the crook of his arm.

A small form, dressed in a light pink sleeping gown, lay curled there as if asleep. The stillness of her small chest paid lie to that illusion.
Last edited by Kalthandrix on June 9th, 2010, 10:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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