Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Posts: 7
Joined: August 18th, 2010, 3:40 pm

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

Post by ericabertel » August 23rd, 2010, 2:48 pm

Title: The Chronicles of Abigail Fellows and the Wiccan Council
Genre: Paramormal Fantasy
Word Count: 177

The auburn haired girl struggled for air as she pushed through trees. The branches tore flesh with every step. She glanced back and tripped over a protruding rock. She tried in vain to focus, but it was no use. Tears blurred her vision and burned as they streamed down her cheeks. She glanced down at her clothes, torn and dirty. She pushed herself up and ran toward the clearing ahead. “Why is this happening?” She thought.

She ducked behind a tree at the edge of the clearing and listened for any sign that someone was still coming. Her heart was pounding too hard to hear anything else. A branch broke to her left and she took off in the opposite direction. From her right something pounced. She screamed and then everything went black.

Nate bolted upright in his bed. His dark brown eyes flew open and his hand wiped the sweat trickling down his brow. “Not again,” he mumbled and reached for the phone. When the ringing stopped he said, “I think we have a problem.”

That really is the name of one of my characters, I'm not trying to sway favor.

Posts: 21
Joined: February 27th, 2010, 10:21 am

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

Post by Kniki » August 23rd, 2010, 6:38 pm

Title: Elena Starfire - Space Pilot
Genre: MG science fiction
Word Count: 253

The apartment blocks were silent. A lone searchlight swept over the causeway between the towers, idly lingering on doorways and bins, lighting the blackness of the evening, then moving on. Curfew had passed more than half an hour ago; with no activity recorded in this quadrant, the sentries were moving to the next.

Suddenly there was a discernible change – a shift – something or someone moving – but the sentries were no longer monitoring this area.

Elena Starfire crept forwards, inching out from her hiding place between two columns. Inwardly she cursed the impulse that had led her to dive into the alcove. What had she been thinking? She knew all too well the penalties for being caught out after curfew. It was lucky for her that the searchlights had not been able to penetrate the gap she had squeezed herself into. Still, she was here now – it was too late for regrets.

Silent as a shadow, she made her way through the maze of narrow passageways, pressing herself back against a wall as she thought she sensed a presence drawing near. A sentry? No – nothing. Just her imagination.

She pushed her straight black hair back behind her ears and closed her eyes, trying to still her breathing and slow her heartbeat. Blood was pounding in her ears so loudly that she felt sure it would be detected within moments.

Elena forced herself to push down her fear and instead focused on the strange new sensation of the cool night air on her face.

Posts: 47
Joined: April 30th, 2010, 7:46 pm

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

Post by JuiceinLA » August 23rd, 2010, 6:42 pm

big changes- I will have to submit again later!
Last edited by JuiceinLA on August 27th, 2010, 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 9:08 pm

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

Post by kirstenalex » August 23rd, 2010, 9:17 pm

Title: Three
Genre: Adult fiction
Word Count: 200

The thump of Helen’s arm across my chest woke me. I lurched forward despite her and smacked my palms hard against the dashboard as she swore in a shout. White beams shot at us before they pitched to the right. For an instant, a rump of blue metal shone in the stretched eight-shape of our headlights, framed by the fuzzy black of night. Helen coiled her hands around the steering wheel and leaned into me, straining to control our sideways skid across the dirt. The two cars flung to opposite sides of the narrow road like wrong ends of a magnet made to meet. Our car slid to an awkward stop, pointing into the scrappy bushland. The other car, to the soundtrack of a high-pitched scream, fell off the road.

I remember the swarm of dust in front of our headlights when we stopped. Everything was still except for the thin layer of road that lifted up and whirled before us, a worried witness to something that had gone terribly wrong. There wasn’t a sound from the surrounding bush, the cicadas and creaking eucalypts dumbstruck. Helen and I stared through the windscreen at the dust, panting, saying nothing.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 16th, 2010, 10:00 pm

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

Post by katelacy » August 23rd, 2010, 9:49 pm

Title: The Smell of Smoke
Genre: YA Mystery
Word Count: 237

One day at a time. Mom didn’t really make up that particular rule, but since I seem to be living outside ordinary rules of behavior, this one says it all. When the sky falls, Chicken Little, take one day at a time. That’s what this chick is doing.

Two days after Heather’s funeral, I walk back into school. Hour after hour, in room after room, the teachers smile, but stand back as I enter. When I sit in my usual desk in each class, the kids around either lean in to touch me or sit up really straight and look at the white board as if gospels have appeared in flames up there. They’ve never paid such close attention to the lessons before. Someone ought to be glad I came back. In Heather’s row, either the empty desk is gone or kids have moved to fill in. She’s not there. An empty desk is not there. A new kid would never know we lost her. WE lost her? Guess I’m in that stage where no one can possibly feel what I feel about what I lost. In my whole life, even with dad’s second marriage, with losing my brother when he ran away, with waving goodbye to Kenesha Lavender and leaving Nashville, I’ve never lost what I’ve lost now. And the other kids think I’m glad? Most think I'm responsible. Well, they don’t know anything about me.
Last edited by katelacy on August 23rd, 2010, 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 9:40 pm

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

Post by JohnVise » August 23rd, 2010, 9:51 pm

Title - Needs Must
Genre - Fantasy

There was only time for one thought as Quinn went through the car’s windshield.
“Thank goodness for plastics!”
The middle-aged woman driving the car didn’t have time for even that much. She had just started crossing the suspension bridge when the slim figure of Quinn turned her clean windshield into a tangle of fever dream spider webs. The woman started screaming, even as metal matched her cries, screaming as the supposedly shatterproof glass caved inward, wrenching from its frame.
It wrapped around the figure that had hit it, a net of knife edged shards. The glass, the impact, it all hurt like hell. Bones broke, flesh opened. Girl and her windshield prison were dumped on the seat next to the now hysterical driver.
Who was in no state of mind to see that the wounds healed almost instantly, and who caught only a slight glitter out of the corner of her eye as the spray of blood turned into a fine glittering powder.
“Thank you plastics!” Quinn thought once more dizzily. A bare thirty years ago, most cars would have contained enough steel in their frames that she would have likely been dead before she actually crashed into the glass.
Steel wasn’t quite cold iron, but it was close enough.
The steering wheel shook in the drivers hands, and the car swerved just as Quinn managed to disentangle herself from the glass, ignoring the fresh pain as wounds opened and closed and sent sparkling powdered blood into the air.

G Savorgnan
Posts: 1
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 9:58 pm

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

Post by G Savorgnan » August 23rd, 2010, 10:15 pm

Title: Colliding Cohesion
Genre: Reality-Based-Fantasy

201 word excerpt from mid-prologue

Broad wingtips brushing the snowy pinnacle, Victor narrowly cleared the immense mountain’s peak. Behind him to the west, iridescent blue from the setting moon; to the east, a blood red sun just cresting the horizon, glowing, reflecting rose light upon a vast sea. Fatigued by his grueling effort in the thin air of such altitude, Victor fortunately found himself able to glide gently with wings and feathers upon updrafts lifting out of the great body of water.

Exhausted, his paper-thin eagle eyelids fell, but the newly crested sun still burned brightly through, and the magnificent rainbow remained. Re-opening his eyes, far across the eastern sea Victor observed a coastline, rocky outcroppings, a single earthen road following it northward, then bending eastward, zigzagging up through a narrow pass and back down upon a broad valley; snaking its length a silver-green river flanked by manmade dykes, ditches cut periodically to allow flooding of large basins for rice paddies.

The road wandered eastward, crossing the river over a simple bridge, and then resumed its northerly path down the valley. Along its route, farmhouses, hamlets, and a steady stream of travelers, all on foot or occasionally riding in palanquins carried by small, dusty, barefooted men.

Posts: 3
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:57 pm

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

Post by Daibhin » August 24th, 2010, 1:29 am

Title: In the Shadow of Vesuvius
Genre: MG

Chapter One

On the day I became Remy’s nursemaid the housekeeper took me to the new room on third floor, built especially for the baby’s arrival.
The room I would share with the baby boy I had yet to meet gave magnificent views of the Bay of Naples and, in the other direction, Mount Vesuvius. I rushed to the window to admire the bay stretched out blue green and peaceful for miles.
Then to the other side, to look across the red roofs of the town at Mount Vesuvius, that’s when the vision hit. It overwhelmed me. I blindly grasped at the window frame to keep from falling.
In my mind’s eye a churning grey black mass raced toward the town, and me. All around, fierce heat burst trees into flame, melted rock, shattered huge boulders, and collapsed buildings. Animal and human flesh dissolved. My eyes and nostrils were burned by sulphur; its rotten-egg stench made me retch. Super heated gases scalded my throat, sealing it shut. Blood bubbled and oozed from my melting flesh. My bones turned to ash. Terror-filled shrieks abruptly ceased.
All I had known for the last eight years disappeared. Herculaneum died. All life extinguished.
A firm grip on my shoulder had startled me from the vision.
Surprised to be alive, I expected to find strips of my flesh hanging off.
Gulping in a lungful of cool air, I’d looked around the room dazed, trembling, fighting back sobs. How could I have lived through that?

Posts: 1
Joined: August 24th, 2010, 8:44 am

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

Post by cobwebs » August 24th, 2010, 9:03 am

Genre: YA SF
Wordcount: 246

"Venture forth! Bravery in Adversity, Unity in Diversity." Despite mumbling this rousing motto at assembly each morning for three Terran years, 79% of the teenage cadets graduate from the Cosmic Space Academy still believing that you shouldn't:

1. mess with the fabric of space
2. trust an alien
3. eat the local food (without extreme caution)

and above all, never, ever be a hero.

Unless, of course, you want condolences and a beryllium plated medal sent to your grieving loved ones.

The other 21% continue their education and lead interesting lives.

It's well known that space rookies seldom remember any survival tips during the heat of their first battle, especially when being chased by vicious pirates at warp speed. The majority will panic, forget their training and resort to fighting or fleeing.

Some, however, will seize the moment like an enthusiastic puppy ravaging a rag dibdib toy and joyfully improvise. Any lifeline will do, even a derellict frontier satellite has its uses.

The satellite floating in the Neutral Zone was still recognisable, although countless ion storms and meteor showers had blasted the work areas into a collage of blistered black pits and jagged teeth. With its characteristic jointed sensor extensions and squat cyclindrical body, it resembled a mutated angular spider--albiet a dead one--gently rotating through the dark for all eternity.

Xan Argente was keeping very, very still. He hoped his ship might be overlooked, camouflaged as it was, against the ruined core.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 24th, 2010, 9:12 am

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

Post by kednorthc » August 24th, 2010, 9:30 am

Working Title: Red Sky Morning
by Keith Dupuis

I have known—known of—Nathaniel Densmore my whole life.

He, along with Tavis and Logan, had been the hometown gods of my generation. They were just what you’d expect: handsome, quick, clever. The stuff of tabloid and Tiger Beat, scaled to a local level.

Of the three, Nathaniel was in charge. He came from a family that had been well-regarded in Lake Pride since there even was a Lake Pride. What I loved best about Nathaniel was that he was more than the sum of the usual expectations. He didn’t speak Spanish or French, he knew sign language. He hadn’t just traveled overseas, he’d spent time at a base in Antarctica. He practiced martial arts, but an obscure discipline, something from Brazil that involved kicking and flipping. It was so easy to imagine Nathaniel as being different, and my entire life was about Difference.

Then there was the car accident our senior year.

His parents didn’t make it. Nathaniel himself came close to dying, spending weeks in a Boston hospital. Without parents he was left in the care of an estranged aunt who moved home from—Paris? Moved home from Paris or London, I think, to live with him. There was talk about bad investments and debt, bills that the estate couldn’t manage. Nathaniel left the hospital and withdrew from school. One day he was a part of everything, and the next he was gone, leaving a cartoon, man-shaped cut-out between Tavis and Logan. I

Posts: 6
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 4:21 am

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

Post by ronalb » August 24th, 2010, 10:26 am

Title: The Greenberg Conspiracy
Genre: Polit-thriller

James Brightman glanced at the dimly shimmering digits of the clock on the dashboard of his Jeep. It showed half past nine. He was already thirty minutes late and needed another ten to reach his office in the Lloyd Investment Bank across West Street.
“Shit,” he hissed through his clenched teeth, for not being the role model he used to when he’d been promoted to department manager – always on time and working late hours. Well, he did work late hours. Getting to work on time became difficult. He had been promoted to give a shining example to his staff, but the last five months he failed, being late almost every morning, and tired most of the days. He noticed the looks his boss gave him every time they met in the hall. It was a matter of days when he’d summon him to the upper floor and have a talk. James knew how those ‘talks’ usually ended: With colleagues emptying their desks.
James grabbed his briefcase from the backseat and climbed out, squinting against the morning sun and the glistening fountains that spouted off the glassed façades of Manhattan’s Financial District. He kept his eyes low, at the shades that skyscrapers cast on their surroundings, washing the bank and most of the street in a veil of gray.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 24th, 2010, 1:36 pm

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

Post by leegal117 » August 24th, 2010, 1:59 pm

A Land Above
by Lee Williams
Historical Novel

Benjamin reached the head of the winding staircase overlooking the great hall below; he hesitated a moment to view the gallery of ancestors lining the wall of the stairwell. He remembered how as a young boy all the stern, glaring eyes seemed to follow him down the stairs, making him feel guilty for something - something he had probably done. Now, descending, he passed each one and smiled, no longer intimidated by their disapproving gaze. When he reached the foot of the stairs, his boots made a clicking sound against the marble floor, and he knew this would signal his arrival to his waiting parents. Continuing down the hall he passed under a massive 30 foot chandelier casting patterns of light over the frescoed walls and onto the crystal vase of orchids sitting on a table of golden inlay. And then just beyond the parlor, where his parents waited, enormous doors rose a full twenty feet and the same in width; doors, which ancient artisans had carved by hand for entry to the old castle, now in ruins, to the west of the estate, where earlier generations of high born O’Connor’s – his mother’s ancestors, had lived.

Benjamin heard the familiar voices of his parents in the adjoining parlor; thoughts whirled like water caught in an ebb tide, thinking and rethinking words he knew would set off a storm, a storm far fiercer than the many he had faced at sea.

Kathy Bennett
Posts: 2
Joined: August 20th, 2010, 9:12 pm

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

Post by Kathy Bennett » August 24th, 2010, 3:09 pm

Title: Deadly Blessing
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

It’s not every day a girl gets to meet the chief of police and the mayor of Los Angeles, and I’m wondering why today is my day. Technically, the chief is my boss, but as one of hundreds of LAPD detectives working for him, our paths have never crossed.

I’d arrived at work in the Missing Persons Unit, and was booting up my computer for the day, when my partner, Darius Cutter, hung up the phone and told me to drop everything because we had a meeting with the chief and the mayor. The chief’s adjutant, Lieutenant Keever, ordered us to immediately go over to City Hall, telling us he and the chief would meet us in the lobby.

I thought Darius was joking until he tried calling our immediate supervisor, Larry Conrad, better known as Larry-the-Wife-Beater. For some reason, our captain’s voicemail wasn’t working. We’d have to tell him later. While that’s not the way things are usually done, we didn’t have much choice.

So, here we are at City Hall, loitering in the lobby of the city’s epicenter, trying not to worry. We’d discussed it on our walk over to City Hall, but neither Darius nor I could think of, nor admit to, any misstep that would put us in the crosshairs of the brass.

“I don’t like this,” said Darius. “I expected the ‘hurry up and wait’, but we don’t even know why we’re here. Why all the mystery?”

Posts: 32
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 12:14 pm

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

Post by commando8 » August 25th, 2010, 4:48 pm

Title: Heaven
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 173


One word. One meaning. Deceit.

At least that was what the Builders had always said. Silence before their time had been different, an array of states and definitions that encompassed everything from the absence of sound to the tranquility of peace. All of that had changed with the creation of Heaven, however. Within the drab gray Metamaterial walls and underneath the blue chimera of the Hyperlense, silence had slowly become nothing more than an illusion, a facade meant to deceive and mislead.

And a facade was just what it was for most that followed in their footsteps, an idea and a definition that held no accuracy or truth. Silence was silence after all, the same as it had always been, and the same as it always would be. It was ludicrous to think otherwise. For all their knowledge, and for all their supposed wisdom and understanding, the Builders had been wrong, and there wasn't a single man or woman under Heaven's false guise that believed differently now.

Except perhaps for Jon Roland.

Posts: 1
Joined: August 25th, 2010, 8:23 pm

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

Post by Melody » August 25th, 2010, 8:29 pm

Title: Meet the Pearsons
Genre: YA (10-12)
length: 275

Parsimonious arrived home from school quite hot and bothered. It was 30 degrees outside and when you are well padded, that means you tend to go rather red in the face, and wet about the neck creases. She wobbled through the door and stopped dead, her mouth dropping open.
"Courage girl", she sighed to herself, absently counting five nail holes in the door frame.
She wiped the sweat off her nose, sucked in a breath and stepped into the room.

"Mum?" she called, with a hint of fear in her voice.
"Where are you taking us now?"
The whole house was different. How she had managed to change all the furniture in one day is beyond imagining. All the paintings were gone, the sofas and curtains, and there was just a wooden table with two benches to sit on. The windows were all boarded up and there was sawdust all over the floor. No decorations except a scraggly bunch of wildflowers on a small crate. Oh, and chickens scratching lazily under the table. In fact, they looked completely at home, and were suprised to see her enter their house. The biggest one ran five steps forward then let out a loud squarck to let her know just what she thought about Parsi's intrusion.

"Oh hello darling," said mum, humming through the door in full peasant costume, carrying a ceramic water jug and bowl, "I have just been reading the most fantastic book about the French Revolution..,"
(Parsimonious dropped her head and swallowed hard).
"..and it is simply ages since we went there, so I though we could revisit it, in a new way, of course."


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