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 lr.kilian » June 9th, 2010, 4:02 pm

Title: The Bottom
Genre: Literary Fiction/Western
(245 Words)

Somewhere out on the prairie, a ringing phone cut through the silence of the wind parting the grass, and a mockingbird called back, making fun. Dan was sitting out on the porch trying to avoid all sound, especially the phone, because he knew what could be coming. He didn’t have any money but he knew what it meant when other people lost all their money and it usually meant bad things for everyone involved.
He let the machine pick up.
“Dan, it’s Tommy. You there?” He paused. “Well, we need to talk. Just, uh, just give me a call when you can… preferably before the end of the week. Alright.”
The phone clicked off, and the machine kept humming, recording the hollow heaviness of the house, the man outside of it and the land around it. Finally, the machine let out a long beep and it reminded Dan of those hospital shows on TV when someone dies on the table, “flatlines” they call it. He wasn’t about to call that guy back.

When Friday came around, Dan picked up the phone and dialed Tommy’s number anyway. He had allowed the message to stay hovering and flashing on the all week, but he couldn’t delete it. His mother taught him to never waste time waiting around for the phone to ring, but to always answer it when it did and always return the message because “you never knew.” What you didn’t know, Dan never figured out.

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

Post by BCarle » June 9th, 2010, 4:04 pm

WORKING TITLE: The Society of Unicorns & Other Exotic Goats
GENRE: YA/Literary

249 words

Life on Mars
Flagstaff, Arizona
September 1968

Elizabeth fit her feet into the rut of a forgotten rainstorm, one sneaker before the other down the old dirt road. Just a needle in a record’s scratchy groove, she sang dirges to the dying summer sun and surrendered to the pull of her secret haven. From her perch atop Mars Hill, she'd gaze over town, imagine herself as one of the soaring ravens, and forget real life. Wish for something better.

Well-bred young ladies didn’t sneak off campus. Girls who needed to stay invisible to the headmistress didn’t ditch class and head for the hills. But today was September twenty-first, and if she wasn’t in her spot on top of Mars Hill at exactly half past one, the agony would destroy her mind.

Half past one. One year past the moment she’d lost her guardian, Bebe, the only person she’d ever called her own. She hadn’t been there when Bebe died, but maybe if she could look down at the distant speck of their former home at the exact anniversary moment, Bebe would know. Bebe would help. She’d find rescue.

A growl of thunder made Elizabeth eye the trees, imagining lightning, craving it. She wanted a storm. She’d hurl herself into it and dance, scream, burn, drown – ease the raging pressure that filled her more each day.

Or, as always, she’d just huddle beneath the boulder’s ledge, watching the storm boil its way over Flagstaff.

Five more minutes. She was so close now.

And then came the voice
Last edited by BCarle on October 1st, 2011, 12:12 am, edited 9 times in total.
Stuff. Things. Blog. Untitlement

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

Post by ShaneEde » June 9th, 2010, 4:06 pm

Title : Pendragon Crystal
Genre: Fantasy
WC: 220

Melwyn woke with a start. His bed linens were drenched with his sweat. He had shrugged off the first of these dreams, but they had become more numerous over the last few revolutions of the moon. He rose from his bed and started a tea on the stove. It hadn’t done any good to ignore the dreams. Time was running short now. The crystal's appearance could only mean one thing. The King must be made aware. The tea reached a boil and he poured some into his cup and the honey he had added. He sipped it slowly until it was gone and then attempted to go back to sleep.

Morning broke quickly. Too quickly for Melwyn, his attempts to calm his nerves with tea were futile and he hadn't slept the rest of the night. He dressed in his court robes and descended the stairs to the king’s study. The reeds that lined the floor of the hall rustled seeming to whisper to Melwyn as he walked. This morning, they whispered the name of the Crystal from his dreams. The king turned as he heard Melwyn enter the study and a smile broke out across his square face. “Melwyn, it is good to see you this morning.”
The king was a large man. Broad across the shoulders and tall.

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

Post by charlotte49ers » June 9th, 2010, 4:07 pm

The Devil's Utopia
YA Dystopian
WC: 248

*I've edited this post so often, it's getting kind of embarassing*

The dungeon doesn’t appear any different than before – not in any overt way that is.

Same musty smell.

Same chill that seems to amplify with each step southward.

No, it hasn’t really changed, but there’s something intangible here. Sinister.

A shiver runs the length of my spine causing the tray of food in my hands to vibrate.

Breathe, Adelaide. Breathe.

Despite a deep intake of air, my nerves don’t improve and the tray begins to quiver even more violently.

I’m being stupid. The whispers floating back and forth between the villagers all day are morphing into shouts in my head - that’s all it is.

After all, Prisoner Nine is just like every other person locked away down here. Dangerous and awful, but nothing I haven’t experienced before.

Even as the words form in my brain, I know they aren’t true. Nine is different. Very different.

A word whistles by my ears, as if a breeze invades the stale air.


I crunch up my face, squeezing my eyes shut. My heart rate begins to pick up speed again. Damn it, get a grip Adelaide!

No one can figure out how the Outsider found us, let alone survived the open jungle alone. We’re hidden far from the Outside’s influence and no soul has entered our borders since Himmelreich’s founding years ago – well before I was born. He’s a mystery indeed.

As my curiosity increases, my nerves seem to settle. I’m not quite sure what to make of that.
Last edited by charlotte49ers on May 8th, 2011, 11:30 pm, edited 16 times in total.

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

Post by dannieunderhill » June 9th, 2010, 4:08 pm

Title: Sic Transit Gloria (working title)
Genre: YA steampunk fantasy
Wordcount: 215


The voice is rendered so faint by the general din of the factory I can barely hear it.

“Stark!” the man screams again. The word reverberates through me for a moment before it registers. I’ve always been slow in reacting to my last name. Combined with the fact that I’ve never set foot in school, this goes a long way to make people think I’m stupid. Not too stupid to hear the panicked tint of the man’s tone, though.

I spin on my heel, looking in the direction the words came from. My eyes widen. The buckets of coal fall from my hands, black lumps clattering out over the floor and leaving dark streaks in their wake. I barely even notice them. I’m too busy staring at the disaster taking shape in front of me.

The tilt of the smelter is frightening. It tips back and forth. Chains that are meant to hold it rip loose each second. When it tilts toward me I can see the bubbling, red mass inside, feel its furnace heat tear out and punch me in the face. Above the doors the expensive glow bulbs cast an angry red blaze, throwing their lights over the cavernous hall. They are hardly noticeable above all the red that’s always here.


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

Post by DianaHunter » June 9th, 2010, 4:12 pm

Title: The Companion (opening chapter)
Genre: fantasy
Author: Diana Hunter

Stars glimmered through the trees, their brightness pulling her attention. Kiera closed her eyes to them, shutting out their powerful draw to better concentrate on her task. Tonight’s business lay with the Earth. The Heavens had no magic for her.

Pulling in a cleansing breath, Kiera lifted her arms, reaching out to find Oneness. The spread arms weren’t necessary, but made a good show. She might be a brand-new Earth Mother, but it hadn’t taken her long to realize people felt cheated if they didn’t get a bit of spectacle along with their Healing.

Power flowed from the earth and her bare toes curled to dig deep and root her as she pulled the tendril she needed from the mess. She didn’t require much for this quick fix. Mentally wrapping the thin thread around her open palm, she opened her eyes and looked down at the farmer who half-sat, half-lay on the ground before her.

Although about in his middle years and older than her by at least a decade and a half, the man’s wide eyes stared up at her with a mixture of wonder, awe and fear. She understood the first two, even if she didn’t feel she deserved either. The last Kiera didn’t understand at all. She was an Earth Mother, a Healer. Why would anyone be afraid of her or what she did?

Putting on her softest, least intimidating face, she bent down to the farmer and placed her hand on his broken leg. With a small nudge of her thoughts, she unfurled the tendril of Power, sending it to wrap around the break.

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

Post by Christian Savage » June 9th, 2010, 4:17 pm

Working Title: The Powder Keg
Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 236

As these things tend to happen, it all started with someone famous getting murdered in the prime of life.

It was late October on the streets of Chicago, 1914. Jackson Belmont, an orphan raised by the city, dashed on foot through the red shadows of that twilight realm, cigarette perched companionably in the corner of his mouth. He was almost to the glittering house on South Michigan Avenue, where he would pull the curtains shut and still a trembling heart.

The sidewalks that night brimmed with overdressed theatergoers, haunted mill workers, slim-hipped jugglers, and tastefully unhinged magicians. Every day, without fail, these citizens stirred up the clangor of industry, of money exchanging hands. Jackson could hear the pounding from every corner of Chicago since the day he was born, the thundering clockwork of a new age.

But as he moved among the distracted crowds, the tang of destiny clinging to him like lemon-sharp sunlight, people seemed aware of his power and turned their faces to him. The alabaster skin; the dark, romantic curls styled close to the face; the sexually implicit smile; the loose and confident posture – the whole thuggish allure, in fact – caused people to take notice and part before him like sea tides. Jackson wondered if any of them would awake the next morning and suspect him, when they read in the papers about a freewheeling socialite whose brazen good fortune ended in bloodshed.

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

Post by Calliopenjo » June 9th, 2010, 4:21 pm

Title: Archipelago
Genre: Fantasy
Author: Calliopenjo

Thank you, Nathan.
Alabaster Tower, home of Empress Belphoebe, sat on the western shores of Medaya. It was one of the northern islands of Titalayo.

She made her way to council chambers hoping for an update on the slave rebellion and the dwindling supplies.

All of the men looked up as the door opened. “Gentlemen,” said the empress. “Tell me something I am not already aware of, and close you mouths. I am not interested in peering at your tonsils.”

“Uuh… Excuse me, my empress. Beautiful as always.” A council member said. “The issue about the lack of supplies has not been resolved. We rely on the gold and the food. We fear that it may become impossible for even us to afford.”

“Where are our supplies coming from?” Belphoebe strolled around the room behind the councilmen.

“The ships bring them in,” another council member said. “We do not ask where they come from, though many of our informants have suggested them come from Aburod.”

The empress stopped behind the council member and leaned on his shoulders. “Do not be stupid, council member.”
The council members put their hand over the mouths. The edges of their lips could be seen from behind their hand.

“It is simply impossible for something to come from Aburod. It was given that name because it is uninhabited.” A council member crossed their arms and smiled.

“Is there anything else? Or are you going to continue to bore me?” The empress settled down on the throne at the front of the room.
Last edited by Calliopenjo on June 12th, 2010, 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Vinyl and Mono » June 9th, 2010, 4:31 pm

Last edited by Vinyl and Mono on February 6th, 2011, 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by ShellyW » June 9th, 2010, 4:46 pm

Title: And back again
Genre: Women's Fiction

The thing with being this angry was, you really do have to go and take it out on something.

Punching someone random? Not really an option for a 39-year-old mother of 3. Once she hit the person, she'd be diving for the box of bandaids or an ice pack, therefore taking away the satisfaction almost immediately and replacing it with mother's guilt.

Kicking the wall? Tempting, but it might scuff her new shoes or possibly break her toe. How could she carpool with broken toes?

Looking down at her iPhone, scorn passed over her face. There was a text notification flashing. No thanks, she thought, I’d leave that one right where it is, waving its frantic little arms in cyber space. If she doesn’t read it, it doesn’t exist.

Perhaps if I wasn’t listening to music right now, she thought as she buried the ear buds more deeply into her ears, she’d chuck the phone across the room and watch with satisfaction as it smashed to bits, glass flying as the screen fractured like a broken window. She lost her computer screen one time from slamming it shut really hard, a symptom of her inability to ‘control her anger’, and she was paying the repair off on her credit card for months.

I don’t give a shit about money anymore, she thought. The feeling was one of complete liberation. From the ungodly amount she plunked down for her shoes to the massive online order she just placed at Toys R Us, money was no longer an object.

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

Post by Holly » June 9th, 2010, 5:05 pm

Last edited by Holly on November 5th, 2010, 5:16 pm, edited 44 times in total.

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

Post by rifferaff » June 9th, 2010, 5:12 pm

Title: The Mermaid's Daughter
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
(233 words)

Sadie took compliments in the same way she took $350 worth of foundation from the shelves of Makeup or Breakup every other month, with a smile. And so when Mrs. Sharon, the stooped grey-haired woman who sold pickles at the farmer’s market, complimented Sadie’s necklace as she placed two over-sized jars of spicy zucchinis in a paper bag, Sadie accepted the compliment graciously, grinned, and handed over a $20 bill.
Mrs. Sharon didn’t need to know that Sadie was on her way to Mattison’s Pawn Shop to sell the necklace, just like she didn’t need to know that the crisp new bill came from the joint bank account that Sadie shared with her friend, Carolina. The bank account whose $2,317.84 balance came from their eBay store. The one where they sold stolen makeup.
Sadie folded over the top of the brown bag and tucked it into her oversized tote, next to her other market purchases: eggs, vegetables, and a whole chicken that she would use to make the broth that was the only thing her father could keep down these days. Every time Sadie stopped by the market, she picked up a jar or two of pickled zuchinni, Vance’s favorite, in the hopes that one day he’d be well enough to eat them. Thirty-seven jars later, she was running out of kitchen cabinet space, and running out of hope.

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

Post by JohnstonMR » June 9th, 2010, 5:15 pm

Title: Pathfinder (Working title)
Genre: Science Fiction

When you’re traveling at 75% of the speed of light, you have to make decisions quickly.

I was on my way to the bazaar in the Jahn system, cruising at a nice and steady .75 of C, when I got a signal on the Distress band. For a few seconds I debated pretending I hadn't received it, but my tactical implant told me the signal was less than one AU out, and hell, I hadn't had a good fight in a few weeks anyway. I certainly wasn't doing it out of the goodness of my heart. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I adjusted course on the fly. The Second Chance is a pretty large ship, for a single-seater, but she turns on a dime when I need her to. I bumped it up to .99 C so I'd get there a little faster. It only took a few minutes before the scene came up on my scopes. My tac implant showed me a nice yellow box around the ship sending the signal, and a whole shitload of red boxes around the ships attacking her.

Damn. Maybe I didn't need the fight that much after all.

Too late, though; if they were on my scopes, I was probably on theirs. I dropped out of chain drive and went to thrusters, accelerating at full burn toward the closest marauder vessel. A flick of my left thumb locked the target in while my right hand tightened on the stick
Last edited by JohnstonMR on July 20th, 2010, 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by Gina Frost » June 9th, 2010, 5:24 pm

Title: Dream Walker (working title)
Genre: Fantasy

I opened my eyes, disoriented at first, unsure of where I was or how I had gotten here. The golden brown eyes of my tormentor haunted me again through the night, gazing into my soul, breaking through the blackness of my dreamless sleep, waking me. He had to be a dream. How could a man so hauntingly beautiful be real? He seemed real. I could still feel his presence, his scent still lingered faintly in the air. Was that all just imagined too?

I looked around slowly, realizing that it was my home I was in. The forest green curtains hanging over my bedroom window billowed slightly in the morning breeze. Odd, I didn't usually keep my windows open at night. Before the sun went down, I always went through the house meticulously making sure everything was locked up. Was I too preoccupied with that phone call I had received last night to remember to do that before I left? How had I gotten home anyway?

The phone call had been from Allen, the FBI agent I had called in to with an anonymous tip about a missing child months ago. He had said only that he needed my help again and that he would pick me up at six. It all seemed so secretive, so exciting, the perfect distraction to get my mind off of the golden eyed man that had been haunting me since, well, since after I had used my unique abilities to locate a missing child.

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

Post by iwillwhisperno » June 9th, 2010, 5:48 pm

Title: I'm Here to Save Your Day: The Awesome Adventures of Bo Wolf
Genre: Middle Grade- Adventure/Humorous
Words: 247

My name’s Bo Wolf. I’m eleven years old and I never lie. Never. I’m all about telling the truth. There once was a man named George Washington who told his dad that he could never lie and then became the President of the United States. I’m exactly the same way. If I lived way back then, George and I would be BFF’s. I’m sure of it.
That’s why when I tell you about my totally crazy story– I’m going to tell you everything, the good and the bad. I’ll admit it, I’ve been bullied. I’m sure George had been too.
So there I was, standing in the boys' bathroom at school. The last bell of the day had rung and I knew they were out there.
They– Rufus Durfus and Brutus Strunks– were the meanest bullies in Los Angeles. I think if you tallied the wedgie count they inflicted on other kids, by the end of the day it would have at least reached thirty-nine, and that's an average.
Trust me, I've had the underwear go up the butt crack plenty of times, but these boys... they were professionals at what they did. They ripped plenty of pairs of my coolest Batman underwear, and it never felt good.
The noise of screaming kids and banging lockers filled the hallway outside the bathroom. No one ever came in here when school got out. It’d be a good time to check out my incredible physique before attempting my escape.
Some people have told me that my arms look like flexi-straws. I didn’t think so.
Last edited by iwillwhisperno on August 16th, 2010, 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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