Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Posts: 2
Joined: June 30th, 2011, 7:04 pm

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

Post by vivalasbradleys » June 30th, 2011, 7:07 pm

Genre: Mystery/caper
Word count: 236

Edna Norquist was on her deathbed in Needles, California, which meant Ryan Campanella had to act fast before the old bat kicked off.

* * *

The Norquist estate, a large ranch house and an acre and a half of green lawn and rose gardens, sat next to the desert on the south end of Needles.

Justin Timberlake on the Chevy Impala’s CD player claimed he was bringing sexy back as Ryan turned into the driveway. He spotted a groundskeeper, an old Hispanic man, on a riding mower in the front yard. Ryan waited for him to drive the mower around to the back of the house. Then he picked up his briefcase from the passenger seat. He gave himself a look in the rear-view, left the car with the doors unlocked, and strode to the front door.

A fiftyish woman in a maid’s uniform answered the doorbell. “Sí?”

“Hello, I’m from the insurance company of Overarching Underwriters LLC Inc. of Los Angeles, and I’m here to see Mrs. Norquist,” Ryan said. He handed her a business card. “I have an appointment.”

“Sí? Mees Norwist?”

“Yes, I have an appointment. Muy importante.”

The maid examined both sides of the card. “Sí, Mees Norwist ees een her room. She very seek.” She motioned Ryan to come inside. Then she removed a surgical mask from her apron pocket and handed it to him. “You put dees on jew face, por favor.”

Posts: 2
Joined: June 30th, 2011, 7:04 pm

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

Post by vivalasbradleys » June 30th, 2011, 7:13 pm

Genre: Mystery/caper
Word count: 244

A “crack,” then the papaya exploded.

Seeds and pulp pelted the dude. He hit the deck when another shot clipped a small branch from the tree.


The voice came from somewhere out there, in the rain. He hugged the ground, thought about making a run for it. But he changed his mind when a third shot ricocheted off a rock next to him.

Koosan shimasu.”

He didn’t know what it was whoever it was out there was saying, sounded like Japanese. But he thought, Give me a break. It’s just a papaya. “Hey, let me go and we're good, yeah? Swear I won't take none. ”

Mud splattered his forehead when a fourth round smacked the ground in front of him. Damn that was close, just a few inches. He held his breath, tucked his big ass and gut into a ball, and waited for the next shot to kill him.

There, face down in the mud, images rolled through his mind – quarter notes, empty beer bottles, naked chicks, fried Spam.

A ukulele.

Unreal, he thought. Not happening. It ain’t supposed to go down this way.

He felt the smart phone in his pocket, in his favorite shorts, buried between his leg and the ground. Thought about taking it out and calling for help before he remembered, there was no cell service on that part of the island.

And there was no one he could call. Because there was no one he trusted.

Posts: 7
Joined: June 30th, 2011, 7:45 pm

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

Post by jojocookie » June 30th, 2011, 7:50 pm

Title : A secret
Genre: PB

Sniffy, Miffy and Bizz live together in a hilly pocket. They spend their days in the
shadow of a secret. A secret that no one knows. Until one fair morning. . .

Sniffy had his mind made up. Today was the day. He studied the steep incline. "Maybe
they can’t find the secret. But I will. No one is going to stop me.”

Miffy stretched. “I’m napping. Leave me alone.”

"Go ahead, sleep your life away. When I find the secret I’ll be famous. You’ll see."

Miffy opened one eye. “Did you say famous? Hmm… I think I will join you.”

Sniffy groaned and turned away. “He’s already driving me nuts.”

Bizz circled above. "Where are you going, where, where, where?"

Sniffy looked up. "To find the secret."

"I want to come, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy."

“Oh no, not him too,” mumbled Sniffy.

Sniffy, Miffy and Bizz passed through flowers. The breeze blew soft and warm.
But the flowers changed to rocks and the breeze to gusts. Then they met a river with
icy crashing waves.

Miffy crossed his arms. “I detest water.”

Sniffy rolled his eyes. “Fine, I will go by myself.”

“What, what, what? You don’t want us?” screeched Bizz.

Sniffy swallowed hard. I can’t leave them here. Not at this remote place.

“All right, everyone on my back. Ready? One, two, three. . .”
He viewed the slush again.
“Wait. I changed my mind. I quit. I can’t do this. Stop! OH NOOOOO!"


Posts: 1
Joined: June 30th, 2011, 7:06 pm

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

Post by prachijain » June 30th, 2011, 8:10 pm

Title: In Anticipation
Genre: Short Story
Word Count: 250

The IVF clinic looks smaller today. I think they changed the wallpaper to a darker color or maybe the heating is too high. I don’t know, but I feel very uncomfortable sitting here waiting to hear from the doctor what I already know. Vivek is sitting unaffected in the couch next to me. Sometimes I wonder if anything affects Vivek.

“ Vivek, I know I am not pregnant.” I think I am losing my voice too because he does not even look up from his magazine.
“Suchitra”. I turn around to see my doctor. “Your test results are negative but we can try another cycle for you soon. The chances are better the second time around. Betty will go over the protocol with you.”
Through the corner of my eye, I see Vivek’s impassive face. He places the magazine on the side table and walks to the restroom leaving me with Betty.
“I want a baby to save our marriage. Don’t you leave me alone to handle the pain of failure.” But I don’t say this. Instead, when he gets back I announce,” I am going to India for some time.”
We are on River Road where we have to stop for a gaggle of geese to cross. I notice the pink and white babies and their fat mothers waddling behind. Vivek’s hasn’t spoken a word to me. I turn my attention to the trees; with their bare branches on this winter day as if trying to match my empty belly.

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Joined: July 1st, 2011, 12:58 am

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

Post by mew57 » July 1st, 2011, 1:03 am

Title: Hex-A-Gone
Genre: YA fantasy

Chapter One

"Not there!" Great-Aunt Sally's clock pounded spindly iron fists together. "That was my move!" Its droopy, yellow cheek puffed out as if stung by a wasp.

Thalia reached across the board and set down her queen with a triumphant clunk. "Fair's fair. Check."

A vein between the 12 and 1 started to throb. "Take it back."

Playing chess with her aunt's crochety timepiece was not in Thalia's job description, but the shop was so slow they had fallen into the habit of a friendly match Tuesday mornings, while Sally attended her Poltergeist Poker game at the Cerb sisters' dog-grooming parlor next door.

Friendly, that is, until Thalia started winning. "Look, it's only a game." She peered over the dusty glass counter to see if any potential customers had managed to find their way inside, but Hex-A-Gone stood as empty as her great-aunt's bank account.

The minute hand pointed a trembling finger at Thalia. "Take it BACK. You haven't let go, so you still can." Much as it hated losing, the clock was a stickler for rules. Most magical things were. Break them, and the magic leaked out like water from a cracked cup.
Thalia had learned that lesson the hard way.

"Why should I?" she argued.

"Because if you don't," Thalia winced as the clock cracked iron knuckles, "Time will tell."

Her fingers tightened on the ivory piece. "I don't know what you're talking about."

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Joined: December 7th, 2009, 10:50 pm
Location: St. George, UT

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

Post by jenniferjbennett » July 1st, 2011, 1:13 am

Taken down do to privacy.
Last edited by jenniferjbennett on October 4th, 2011, 3:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Jennifer J. Bennett

Posts: 1
Joined: July 1st, 2011, 5:19 pm

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

Post by pkester » July 1st, 2011, 5:51 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:If you'd like to have your page critiqued for the Page Critique events, please paste the 250 word excerpt in a post in this thread, along with the title and genre. Time permitting, I'll use a random number generator to pick the page up for critique. Please limit this thread only to page entries for critique on the blog.

Please also remember that there are separate forums for peer page, query, and synopsis critiques in case you'd like more instantaneous feedback. All non-page posts in this thread will be deleted.

Please only one entry per human.


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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:32 pm

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

Post by Ce3 » July 1st, 2011, 7:13 pm

Title: An Ominous Obession

Since the day he hit the big 4-0, Paul ‘Cookie’ Cooke had found sleep as evasive as his wife’s womanly charms and once again tonight, at 1:59 AM., Paul set aside the article he had been perusing featuring ‘Girls of the Big 12’ and rolled his rotund body out of bed. He slipped on his flimsy silk robe, popped another Percocet, and did his best to tiptoe down the stairs and slide along the faux marble floor hallway to his study. A quick peep through the side window was in order to see if, Amy, his lusty teenage neighbor, had left her bedroom shades open. Disappointed by her absence, he opened the bar and poured a double Dewar’s neat.
Arranging his desk chair just so, he took a drink, fiddled with the mouse as the large flat screen monitor came to life. His contrived member name and password gave him instant permission to enter his private otherworld. It was here he had found her and tonight was the time to finally make a move and close the deal.
"This one’s dead meat", Paul chuckled as he chugged his drink with nervous anticipation and accidentally knocked a small antique Murano vase off the desk, which bounced off the area rug and broke into pieces as soon as it hit the highly polished birch floor. He shrugged his shoulders and nonchalantly swept the broken glass under the rug with the edge of a file folder. When he reopened the computer screen his expectancy was so intense that sweat dripped from his large forehead. He hesitated for a moment and wrote a simple line, pondered it, then worked up the nerve to hit 'send.'

Posts: 2
Joined: February 21st, 2011, 12:27 am

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

Post by katenixon » July 1st, 2011, 11:37 pm

La Vincero
Women's Fiction
196 words

Louisville, Kentucky, March 6, 1859

After a short curtsy, the maid glanced down and mumbled, “Mr. James, he’s downstairs, in the good parlor. He says to tell you he’ll wait for you.” The maid kept her eyes on the floor and fidgeted with her crucifix.
Isabel, feeling twice her age of thirty-seven years because of the events from the previous night, fought back her impatience. She hated interruptions, but she returned the pen to its ivory desk set and folded her hands over the fresh sheet of stationary. “What else, Susan?”
“He won’t sit down, he seems right angry.”
“Does he now?”
The maid bobbed her head.
Fury swept Isabel’s fatigue aside. How like her oldest brother to ignore her written request to call after lunch.
“Did he ask to see Miss Helen?”
When Susan answered no, Isabel’s resolve sparked. He could just pace until she wrote the last letter announcing their father’s death. “It will be fine. No need to wake my sister. You can tell Mr. James I will join him directly. Then, prepare a tea with the antique tea service and some of Cook’s gingersnaps. After that, come back to help me dress.”

User avatar
Janell Williams
Posts: 3
Joined: June 1st, 2011, 9:48 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

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

Post by Janell Williams » July 3rd, 2011, 8:39 pm

Genre: Urban Fantasy
300 words

Profile: Syrensong
I’m looking for the thought of love in the twinkle of a soul. I’ve closed my eyes to wish for it. Then I saw you. Alone as I, you understood, you accepted. Come dance with me, come sail my torrent sea.
Female, 21, 5’7”, bi-racial, slender fit build

New York City. Penthouse views. Park Avenue. Bright lights and busy city streets existed here just as they did in the movies, and so did the lonely people. The city was filled with them, and I belonged to that collection.
I dated to fill in the gaps, but the dating scene in New York sucked, too many hollow promises and ugly come-ons. But I persevered and decided to try a new approach.
The idea of meeting a complete stranger from a snapshot or a profile had terrified me. Daily, I braced myself for everything that could go awry. Fantasies flourished in my mind as I recalled every stalker flick I ever saw. It was foolish thinking because I knew there were people everywhere who found friendship and love online. I heard the tales of a comrade in arms victorious, the love for that particular moment found. Tales. Maybe those smiling faces on commercials, couples that met, fell in love and married from a blind date, were propaganda that only served to make me feel more alone. I didn’t know those people. I didn’t really know anybody, and nobody knew me. How then could I ever find love?
Last edited by Janell Williams on February 24th, 2012, 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Joined: July 5th, 2011, 2:35 pm

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

Post by heatheranne » July 5th, 2011, 2:40 pm

Speculative Fiction

Finley opened her eyes to darkness. She reached out her hand, which found the switch easily, and turned on the sun light. The darkness was now grey. The lamp was set to come on at its dimmest setting and gradually brighten to its fullest over the next fifteen minutes, mimicking a sunrise.

Finley turned her pillow over to its cool underside and tucked her arm back under the thin, threadbare quilt. Her eyes flickered around the small room settling on one gray shape of an object and then another. Gradually the grey shapes developed muted colors. She stared at a thick book laying on her desk: a novel by Hölderlin. She watched for a few minutes as the dark purple leather cover lightened to a rich maroon in the growing light. She stared at her black canvas buckled shoes in the corner, which took on more shape than color in the slowly changing light. She studied her data pad propped up next to the novel and watched as the room came into clearer view in the reflections of the dark screen: her chair with yesterday’s olive green pants draped over the back, the cluster of colored photographs over her head, her own humped shape in the bed covered with a kaleidoscope quilt. She let herself come fully awake slowly.

The room was almost completely quiet. She could only hear the low background hum of the air circulator. The ship’s engines were off. The gravity felt normal, natural. She didn’t sense any of those occasional slight stomach lurches like butterflies that came with artificial gravity.

Posts: 2
Joined: July 6th, 2011, 1:13 pm

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

Post by peterpangirl » July 6th, 2011, 1:31 pm

TITLE: Looking for Love... In All the Wrong Places
GENRE: Travel memoir

“Is your trip all planned?” my lover asked, as he reluctantly disentangled himself from me and my sheets, a few days before I was due to leave. Ah, the last goodbye is always the hardest.

“First stop Jamaica,” I said. “I think I can wing it.”

I was on the pre-departure countdown. Too much to do, too many people to catch up with before leaving on one of those trips that everyone knows could very well be one-way.

“Best or worse case scenario, I’m not coming back,” I’d said.

And so I find myself having second thoughts as I’m sitting at lunch with my friends, for the Last Supper, so to speak. One of my friends (a journo) senses a story.

“Do you know anything about Jamaica?”

“Only dirty jokes.”

Before I can find the time to read my guidebook, I find myself at a ‘Big Event’ dinner party, on my final night before my plane out. A chi-chi dinner in a fancy French restaurant, special invite only, hosted by a friend of a friend who works for Reuters. Her claim to fame? “Oh I just do the Nokia thing. Connecting people”.

The guest list is specific. ‘Interesting people only’ - and their even more ‘interesting’ friends. The ‘very interesting’ host sits me between a Jamaican woman (thank you very much) and an empty chair, explaining my dinner companion will be fashionably late. When he arrives so late the soufflé would have fallen had we waited for him to grace us with his presence, I decide his tardiness deserves interrogation.

Posts: 4
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 7:26 pm

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

Post by moosatcows » July 7th, 2011, 10:31 am

Title: Perfect 10
Genre: YA

The list is really all Meg’s fault.

We’re walking home from school one early October day when she suggests it. It sounds like a bunch of voodoo crap to me, but then again, most of what Meg says to me sounds like voodoo crap.

Of course, I’d just spent most of our walk home complaining about the lack of good-looking boys at Athens High School, so I’m sure she’s ready to throttle me.

“Samson,” she says, eyes rolling, voice impatient. “You can’t just sit around waiting if you want a man. You’ve got to do something.”

Okay, maybe that part isn’t voodoo crap, it’s the truth. I’d sort of given up all hope of finding a boyfriend after my freshman year, when Landon – the only other gay boy in the school worth talking about – and I broke up. To put it in the oh-so-charming way that people do here in Appalachia: pickins were slim.

“And just what do you suggest I do, Megan?”

Meg is busy fishing a pack of Marlboros out of an inside pocket of her black skull and crossbones hoodie, the one she never goes without, that has little devil horns sewn onto the hood so that when she puts the hood up she looks positively demonic. Or at least she thinks she does. But her round face and stick-straight strawberry blonde hair kind of lessen the effect.

She finally finds the pack and slides out a single cigarette, bracing it between her lips while going in search for a lighter in another pocket. “We could do a spell,” she mumbles around the cancer stick.

Posts: 1
Joined: June 30th, 2011, 10:09 am

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

Post by MariaAnnaWitt » July 7th, 2011, 10:35 am

Creepy Boy
244 words

I was in Mrs. Hawkes’ English class, in my usual position, turned around talking to my best friend Darcie who always sits behind me. But this wasn’t our usual conversation. “I can’t believe another one of them died,” she said.

“Only the good die young,” I said gravely, mimicking Mr. Norman, our Biology teacher. I waited for Darcie’s stifled laughter, but she stared over my shoulder towards the classroom door. I heard the gasps and murmurs of my classmates as I turned around to see for myself.

It was Calvin. Alive and healthy as ever. At least if you were willing to accept that red-eyed, pale-faced hung-over look as healthy. He looked warily around, clearly puzzled about the buzz he was generating.

“Oh my God! Calvin!” Pristine Christine ran up to him, and hugged him, literally hugged him, her sleek blonde hair right next to his chunky-looking unkempt black-but-would-be-brown-if-he-washed-it hair. She didn’t even seem to notice she was touching that denim jacket he wore every day, which surely reeked of cigarette smoke.

Even more perplexing than Christine’s emotional outburst was the fact that Calvin, a junior and a stoner, was being welcomed by the star student into Senior English. A place where juniors like me, Darcie and Dave, were routinely snubbed.

“What’s going on?” Calvin asked, as the other students followed Christine’s lead and crowded around him.

“We thought you were dead, man,” said Dave with a shaky laugh.

“Dead?” Calvin echoed, in disbelief.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 7th, 2011, 11:09 am

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

Post by scootercarlyle » July 7th, 2011, 11:12 am

Title: The Rider of Nealra
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

"Uh, Ellie? Dat's really bent, dere."

"No shit, Ole." Ole’s tendency to end every sentence with a slaughtered form of the word “there” made me want to open me a can of bitch slap, but I chided myself for snapping at one of my dad’s oldest friends.

"Maybe we could..." Charlie scratched his head.


All four of us tilted our heads in unison as we examined my latest feat of creative engineering.

“How da heck...?”

I interrupted Ole. “One finds that backing up a heavy trailer with a high center of gravity is somewhat tricky when one has the depth perception of a one-eyed nematode.”

Sven, Ole’s son, frowned. “Nematode?”

"A jack? I got one in da pickup, dere,” mused Ole.

Rubbing my temples, I pointed at the wrecking bar that protruded from the stack moving pickup's shattered windshield. "Tried that."

“You tried to...” said Charlie.

“Guilty as charged.”

The feed grinding trailer listed perilously to the left, so far as to nearly lift the opposite wheel off of the ground. The yoke that attached it to the old John Deere tractor was gruesomely twisted by the tremendous weight of the grain I’d just loaded into it.

Sven crouched on his heels and examined it closely, giving the rest of us a full moon. "Da tire's flat, dere, too. Been ripped clean off da rim." He got up, hitched his filthy Wranglers up over his crack, and said, "Ya know, a guy should really check da air in da tires before ya..."

Sven stopped and swallowed when he saw me trying to shoot laser beams from my eyes directly through his thick skull.


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