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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Location: Australia

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

Post by AnnElise » December 18th, 2011, 11:42 pm

Title: Coldfire
Genre: YA

The platform stank of exhaust and urine. In the dark corners of the station, shifty, shaky people exchanged cash, packets of pills and suspicious metal cases. A teenage boy, the smallest of the lot, sat on the edge of a frozen bench, rubbing his numb hands together. He would have preferred to avoid the drug dealings, but a gang stood on the other end of the platform, high-fiving someone who had brought back a bit of everything on offer.

A dealer joined him. “Darian. I knew you’d be back.”

Darian glowered through his mop of black hair. “I’m not interested.”

“You will be.” The dealer slid a small metal box along the bench, his eyes darting around suspiciously. “I’ll make you a deal.”

“I said I’m not interested.”

“And I said you will be.”

“I've stopped using.” Darian would have liked to scoot away, but he couldn’t risk looking weak. The appearance of weakness got people killed just as quickly as overconfidence.

The dealer snorted wetly, wiping his nose. “That’s what they all say.”

“I mean it.” Darian adjusted the straps on his backpack, ready to run if things got ugly. “I’m clean.”

The dealer snatched up the box with a scowl. “Fine.” He cupped his hands around his mouth. “Hey, boys!” The gang looked over. “I found your rat.”

“Shit.” Darian sprang to his feet. The dealer cackled, revealing his missing front teeth.

“You better run, boy.” An overly opinionated adolescent writer with a penchant for rambling.

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Joined: January 10th, 2012, 8:57 am

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

Post by susruthanvesh » January 10th, 2012, 9:20 am

Title: The Dragon's Will
Genre: Mystery

Beneath the old dusty racks of an orphaned room, laid an age-old book of Springeburgh. Untouched for more than 500 years, indifferent to the crime and time of the outer world, it remained there like a serpent’s dead skin, collecting sheets of dust on itself. A large metallic door stood protecting the mysterious chamber. Nobody knew or cared where its keys were, nor did any visitor of Jones' Library knew the fact that this chamber of secrecy was right under their toes as they trampled the dusty floor of that old library.
Samuel Jones, a renowned writer from Springeburgh, usually spent his weekend evenings at his grandpa, Mr.Jones' library. He usually preferred KFC’s chicken spring rolls whenever he was in the library. With one hand he served his stomach with a tin of Coca-Cola and the chicken randomly while with the other, he flipped the book pages to serve his sluggish brain with the pleasures of priceless knowledge supporting his attempts to know about those he never knew. “Keep your tummy full...your wits trigger out like a bull”, his father used to say, and somehow Sam agreed with that.
"Where in the name of lord has my pen disappeared, Alfred!?" An impatient lofty tone boomed across the mighty library hall. "It goes missisn' always."
Sam suddenly jerked up from his semi-trance, hearing the familiar voice and, pulling his eyes off the antique piece he was reading, “Love’s Labor’s won”, he quickly scanned the hall, and found his grandpa, Mr.Jones frowning at a lean brown-haired man. Alfred was his dearest friend and, to Alfred’s own disdain, he was the library assistant too. Sam always thought it was fortunate for him to have his chap at library, but unfortunate for Alfred to work with a man like Mr. Jones, which felt like praying God, sitting beside a blaring vehicle. Jones rather disrupted the silence than maintaining it in the library. If there ever evolved a world of librarians, then Mr. Jones would be the last of that species, and Alfred the first.

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Joined: February 27th, 2012, 3:08 am

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

Post by psychoherent » February 27th, 2012, 3:15 am

Title: Judgement Day
Genre: Science Fiction

The silence screamed at him, but he refused to listen.

Albert Trott stood, one foot hovering in the air over the edge of the conveyor belt, as if hesitant to take the next step. His eyes were downcast, and still they flickered, from left to right, taking in people’s shoes, socks, trousers, skirts, even the tails of their coats from time to time. Anything but what surrounded him.

From the inside, the Employment Department was nothing but one giant room. Down the centre ran the conveyor, a thin black strip flanked on either side by an ocean of white cubicles that stretched as far as the eye could see, nestled back to back like featureless tiles in some gigantic game of dominoes. The next floor was the same. And the next, and the one above that, and so on, level upon level of stark, unrelenting sameness, stacked one on top of the other, a monument of monotony reaching up into the sky. Albert stood on the conveyor, eyes still focused on his shoelaces. He preferred not to look at his surroundings. There was no need. Everything around him was exactly the same as what preceded it. At the Employment Department, déjà vu was not a feeling; it was a constant state of being.

Slowly, still not looking up, he began to count under his breath. At 10,123 he stopped and stepped off the conveyor, headed for the first cubicle on his right. Twenty two years was more than enough time to get the timing right, but even so, he couldn’t help feeling smug.

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Joined: August 11th, 2010, 7:21 pm

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

Post by theepicwinner » April 13th, 2012, 6:22 pm

Title: Spurned
Genre: Fantasy (Children's)
Word Count: 237

If Elisa Beatnik thrived at anything, it was making bad first impressions. She had them down to an exact science. First, she'd throw on the most obnoxious outfit possible. A mink coat, a nose ring, a bleach-blond wig. Not to mention the pink lipstick, inch-long nails and faint-inducing perfume. And the handshake. A bone-crunching clasp. But the pièce de résistance, of course, was the frowning. Oh did Elisa Beatnik love to frown. And if there was anything Elisa loved more than frowning, it was frowning at people shorter than her. She just loved looking down her nose at people, which usually made the first impression go from bad to worse. This was exactly what she wanted.

Elisa turned the dusty white van off the road and down the driveway of her new home. She yawned. It had been a long drive.

The man in the passenger seat opened his mouth and coughed out a dirty mess of smoke. Agley Beatnik was Elisa’s brother. He’d only started smoking that very morning, and he hated it. Agley's most defining feature was probably his unibrow. It sort of resembled a moustache – albeit a moustache that had somehow crawled up the bridge of his nose and settled at the base of his forehead. He was a lot heavier than Elisa and nowhere near as tall. Nobody asked questions when she introduced him as her husband - they didn’t exactly look related.
"If you can think it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it" - Evan Taubenfeld

Don't give up on your dreams.

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

Post by sldwyer » June 11th, 2012, 11:38 am

Title - Dirt
Genre - YA (Could be crossover to adult)
Words - 238

Chapter 1

Weathered board’s muffled their footsteps. A soft swoosh broke the silence as the rope swung across the beam. Trembling hands secured one end of the rope. The old timbers creaked and threatened to snap against the sudden weight.

The silent moonless night resumed its passage toward morning. Crickets chirped while tiny claws once again scuttled across the sagging floor amongst the molding hay.

Blazing sun knifed through a break in the sheet covering the window. Sammy Larkin blinked and rubbed his eyes. He stretched, pushed the now dry sheet from his face and jerked up. His gaze darted to the window, then around his bare room. The sun sat high and he was still in his bed.

Where were his parents? They never let him sleep this late. Had it all been a bad dream, the conversation he heard pieces of last night? “I jus’ don’t know this is best for Sammy and Birdie. What’re they gonna do without us? It ain't right.” His pa’s words came back to him.

He jumped out of bed, pulled on his overalls. It had to have been a dream. Shirtless, he hurried out of his room and across the hall to Birdie’s room, his bare feet slapping hard on the dusty, wood floor. His younger sister’s bed sat empty. He rushed down the hall to his parents’ room and reached for the doorknob. “Ma? Pa?” he called out. Silence answered him.

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

Post by selena » July 6th, 2012, 11:21 am

Last edited by selena on July 6th, 2012, 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Karen Duvall
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Joined: July 6th, 2012, 6:44 pm

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

Post by Karen Duvall » July 6th, 2012, 6:47 pm

Title: Mirror Reader
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Wordcount: 246

A mirror tells no tales. Its stories are all true; a past in pictures captured inside the glass.

I stood facing the giant mirror that took up almost the entire wall behind the bar. Mildew lined the edges, the greenish film spreading vine-like fingers through fine webs of cracked glass. The blemished surface didn't hinder the mirror's power to record history. It saw everything, and it remembered. I came here to witness a brutal crime that had already been committed. All I had to do was touch the glass and watch the scene unfold.

"You ready, Dodgson?" Detective Lincoln Grabner rolled the unlit cigarette like a baton between his fingers. He squinted at me as if to see me better, a thin hank of gray-speckled hair bobbing in a faint breeze caused by the overhead fan.

"It's Alice, Detective. My name is Alice." Which he should know by now since we'd been working together for almost seven years.

He grunted. "So what do you see?"

"Nothing yet. I haven't started." I perused the bar room, my gaze drifting over the crime scene unit at work. White-coated figures busied themselves collecting evidence from the bodies of two dead men laying on the floor, their bodies twisted beneath fallen chairs and tables. The injured had already been hauled off in an ambulance, and witnesses to the fight were outside speaking to the officers on duty. Who had started the brawl that caused so much death and mayhem?

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

Post by Ce3 » July 6th, 2012, 7:23 pm

The Paris Affair
novel (opening page)

The multitude of tourists passing by might think her aloof as she listened in her quiet demure manner to the rotund tour guide’s passionate account of the celebrated Rose Window of Our Lady of Paris. The cathedral, better known as Notre Dame de Paris, has been on her short list since she was a child and now she was here to actually see and feel its beauty and discover its tumultuous past. Her dream journey had come true and it was her intention to absorb every possible detail of the City of Lights.
Elizabeth Bennett’s elegant style was sometimes mistaken for cold or distant, but nothing could be further from the truth. True, Liz might appear shy to strangers but after her personal battle with death the last few years she’d now sprouted new wings. She was still scarred and weak but very thankful to a God she now knew existed. She was grateful for each day and a life that seemed brand new. Nothing could keep her from enjoying each and every minute of her new life.
It was dusk when she eased into the throng of humanity adrift in front of the cathedral. She was amazed at the number of different nationalities yearning for a peak inside and her sore feet were thankful when she spotted an open table at a nearby sidewalk café. She took a seat and ordered a café au lait et croissant in broken French, which made even the boorish waiter smile. He returned with her order much faster than his other patrons, bringing a small cognac along as well. She nodded and smiled at the overworked garcon as he said ‘no extra charge’ in perfect English.
“Merci beaucoup,” she said.
“Je t’en prie, Mademoiselle”, He responded, which she believed was the French familiar for ‘it’s my pleasure’.

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

Post by pabrown » July 6th, 2012, 8:58 pm


Nobody expected a riot that day. Reverend “Fighting Bob” Shuler intended to change that. From KGEF, his personal radio station, he poured accelerant on the fire he'd kindled the day before from his pulpit on Flower Street. The message was simple. The corrupt soul of Los Angeles needed a kick in its unholy parts.

Now Billy had to come in and stamp it out before things got ugly.

It was the kind of California day where even the air smelled good. The early morning breeze ruffled the tops of the newly planted palms along Spring Street and played with the egret plumes on the marching ladies' hats. Even the flames licking the newly lit effigies danced. The good Reverend led them all, farmers and shopkeepers and all the church ladies. Holding his holy book pressed against his chest, he led the sheep for his glory.

Billy recognized some of the burning figures. That one, held by a beefy Italian who looked more like a stevedore than a religious loony, was definitely the Mayor. A good choice for a lynching. The other ones burned so quickly he had a hard time seeing the 'face'. It was either Parrot or the chief of police.

It wasn't Craine; that much he knew. There was a man who knew how to keep the limelight off himself. Most folks never connected the jaunty, well-mannered man who gave hundreds of gift baskets to the Salvation Army every Thanksgiving to the remorseless killer Billy knew he was.
GK Parker

History like you've never seen

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

Post by bocairene » July 6th, 2012, 9:49 pm

Genre: Novel
Title: A Sari for Miriam

“All right now, Ladies. Let's stay in the corpse position for a few more minutes.”
Corpse position. What a horrible name for a delightful way to relax. Here I am at a conference to get Continuing Education Units I need for my psychology license. It's 2005, an odd year, and in Florida that means it's time to renew. We're on the beach during a break from the boring speeches, and just finishing the yoga lesson that was offered. As I try to get the sand from between my toes to put my shoes on, the bright colors of the mats we're rolling up seem to make the white sand sparkle like a rainbow.
We gather our things and head for the hotel. Jana, the lady on the next mat is walking beside me. I'm sorely in need of a cup of tea before returning to the tiresome presentations. I turn to say goodbye to Jana before sprinting down the hall to the tea bar. Her thick salt and pepper braid is pulled to one side and hangs below her shoulder onto her chest. Lit by the sun, her face glows from its reflection and she appears fifteen years younger. Her joyous smile holds me captive and I forget what I want to say. She holds out her hands, and I'm bathed in warmth and love.
“Have you ever thought about why you are here?” Her eyes hold mine. They're the softest turquoise, like the ocean.
“I - I don't understand.

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Joined: July 12th, 2012, 9:47 am

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

Post by carollux » July 12th, 2012, 9:59 am

Title: The Tea Cup Koan
Genre: Female Lead Mystery
Word Count 233

The Tea Cup Koan
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!" "Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

“Lie back on your mat, close your eyes, and begin to relax into sivasana; corpse pose.” I say as I pad quietly between the mats in the semi-darkness of the studio. I inhale deeply the sweet-musky scent of the incense combined with the homey aroma of freshly worked out bodies. As I lead my students through the familiar ritual of a guided meditation, I hear a soft cry-hiccup from the corner of the room. Not wanting to draw attention to a student’s private emotional release, I walk softly past a very pretty young copper haired woman who is obviously distressed, but trying hard to quiet her sobs. I silently send her my wish for peace and make a mental note to walk her to her car after class.

After finally emptying and repairing my own personal chipped tea cup, I didn’t realize I was about to delve into someone else’s poisoned tea.

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Joined: October 12th, 2012, 12:06 pm

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

Post by SonamWJ » October 12th, 2012, 12:12 pm

Title: Of Memory And Other Things

Genre: Fiction

It had never occurred to Karma that a man’s absence was something to be missed until it was revealed to her that she was a “bastard”: one without a father, one born from unsanctified sex. At first, Karma was unaware it was meant for her, never having encountered that word directly and too busy being puffed up about the marbles she had won. Karma was eight and still a child who flitted around with gaiety, her brown hair with bangs bouncing to the sun - until that day. But before that day, it had been the drowning. At the river someone said, “dead, dead. He is dead now.” The boy’s face had moved into the water and only the dark crown of his head was visible.

That year’s monsoon season brought humid air and heavy rains which occasionally turned into hail the size of Karma’s fists with an after-taste of dirty air that lingered on in the mouth once it was melted. It could also cut through glass. When the swollen heat made it unbearable to breathe or walk, Karma poured water on the bed she shared with her mother and would lie on the damp sheets and wish her mother would take her up into the mountains where she heard the air was sweet and cool. Her mother avoided the mountains.
Muddy rain tumbled from the Himalayas into the river of the plains known as Toorsa. Every summer, the Toorsa grew into a fat howling river threatening to spill out onto the banks and swallow the cows and the children who dared enter her.

Rebecca Bosevski
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Joined: September 12th, 2013, 10:23 pm

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

Post by Rebecca Bosevski » September 12th, 2013, 10:27 pm

Title: Mortimer's Dream
Genre: Adult Fantasy
223 words

I woke screaming.
Since the death of my mother three months ago, the same nightmare plagued me.
I am in the dark. Silhouettes of oak trees outline the moon lit edges of an open field. I spin around after hearing a sharp snap to see an evil Cheshire cat like beast. It’s cherry red eyes move in closer. A mist of hot breath invades my senses as the beast snarls and reveals four glistening rows of pure white jagged teeth.
In an instant I become the beast, and am looking into eyes as blue as the brightest sea. It is a woman but I am so close to her I cannot see whom. I can feel her tremble, her body vibrating against the bristles of my fur. My mouth salivates over the salty and metallic taste of fear; the blood inside her is goading me forward. She recoils in terror and I snap my head forward, sweet salty thickness fills my mouth.
Then I watch from the sidelines as the beast devours the woman. More blood than the woman could possibly hold paints the gleaming green grass with each strip of flesh ripped from her tiny bones.
My wailing echoed around my body halting my hysterics long enough for me to realize my eyes were open yet I could not see a thing.

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Joined: April 2nd, 2014, 3:06 pm

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

Post by BessV » April 2nd, 2014, 3:10 pm

Title: How to Catch a Spy
Genre: YA thriller

As they disembarked from the LA-to-NY flight, Adriana hung back. One ear bud hung heavily down her shirt while the other sat in place, her favorite singer’s newest album playing in her ear.
As she stood there, the other United passengers flowed around her, like she was a still rock in a fast-moving stream. With the sweet, sad music playing, they also seemed like dancers in some avant-garde performance.
Nora would be proud of her for thinking so artistically.
But she couldn’t think about Nora right now. She couldn’t think about Nora or everything and everyone else that she’d left behind in Santa Barbara.
She closed her eyes. When she opened them, she realized she couldn’t see her parents anymore and jerked into life. She pulled the other ear bud out, stuffed them both into her pocket, and stepped into the fray. There were so many people and they all moved so quickly, it was hard to make out individual faces. It was a blur of industrial blue décor and different colored faces and clothing. She felt someone grab the back of her arm and she jumped.
But it was only an elderly woman asking if she knew where the baggage terminal was. As Adriana shook her head, she caught sight of her mom several feet away, a caricature of a frantic parent. Then her dad appeared in front of her, blowing air out of his mouth.
“You scared us,” he said. His tone was rough until he saw her expression.

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Joined: April 2nd, 2014, 7:00 pm

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

Post by cmarch » April 2nd, 2014, 7:04 pm

On the day we were to be sold, they woke us at first light. The children huddling at my feet started to cry when the overseer prodded us with his stick. I tried to comfort them, but I was frightened too.

When First We Met

Fantasy Novel

There were only ten of us now. Two girls and a boy had died on the march, from exhaustion and fever. Inas, the oldest girl, had drowned herself in a river after our captors had taken her to their tent two night in a row. They had laughed about it afterward. When I asked if we could say the prayers of the Mother over her body, they had laughed harder and said they had already thrown her out for the jackals.

“Janan?” The smallest boy, Muna, was tugging at my shirt. He was from my village; he had played in our garden with my younger brother, Ten.

I knelt and gathered him to my chest. “Soon you will have a home again.”

He put his little arms around my neck. “I want my Ma,” he whispered.

“I know,” I whispered back. It was what we all wanted.

The windowless room where they kept us was below ground and so cold the bucket of drinking water had a glaze of ice on it. I broke through it and motioned for the children to give me their cups. They came up one by one and held out the small vessels our captors had given us. I filled each cup with water.


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