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 llBurk » August 8th, 2010, 11:56 pm

Title: Over The Rainbow
Genre: Commercial Fiction

My heart was racing and I was scared to death. Why was I being such a baby? It was one thing to be afraid to walk into a new school when you were twelve years old, but this time I was seventeen and it shouldn’t be so hard. I even knew two of the kids. Actually, they were my cousins and they’d driven on ahead in their car. I preferred being alone and rode my motorcycle so I could mentally brace myself for something that wasn’t my choice.

Stopping my Honda at the top of the hill I stared down at my new high school and took a deep breath. It was September 1, 1981 and I couldn’t believe I was back in Sunset Texas. Sunset was the town I was born in, the town I’d lived in until I was twelve years old, the town I’d been forced to leave.

Glancing at the school one last time I paused because I heard a car racing towards me over the opposite hill. It had the distinct bad ass roar of a sports car and I was mesmerized by the sound. An unexpected shiver ran through me as it topped the hill and pulled into the school parking lot. The word ‘lust’ came to mind as I stared at what had to be the most beautiful car in the world. It was a dazzling new Candy Apple red Corvette T-Top, my absolute dream car.

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

Post by Alwynhamilton » August 9th, 2010, 6:46 am

Title: Killing Gods
Genre: Urban Fantasy

She didn’t want to look.

She would have given almost anything not to see it.

And yet, she couldn’t help but notice that she was staring.

The Billboard loomed inescapably ahead, huge and imposing. Even cracking and faded with age it stood out with painful sharpness against flat grey buildings and rainy pre-dawn sky. But it wasn’t the thing’s faded brightness or even its gargantuan size that claimed Elysia Lake’s attention and refused to grant her the mercy that might come simply staring at her shoes and rushing past. Rather it was the nine words printed in bold dark lettering across the once canary yellow background that were impossible to ignore.

100 Years of Peace. For Humanity and Humanity’s Children.

The words were still eerily visible, even under the cobweb of ugly yellow fissures that ran like half healed wounds across the billboard’s surface.

A decade earlier the billboard would have been one of thousands lining the streets of Burnbridge and every other town across the Kingdom. Just another reminder of the centennial celebrations that no one was liable to forget anyway. An inconspicuous poster among a thousand identical others that could be easily wandered by without notice. Ten years, and half of Ella’s lifetime later, it was a solitary relic of an existence she had nearly forgotten. And as each hurried step through the rain soaked streets brought her closer to the billboard those nine simple words stirred unwelcome memories of a time when her life and her beliefs had been as bright and simple as the sign suggested the world was.
Last edited by Alwynhamilton on August 12th, 2010, 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Harv » August 9th, 2010, 9:25 am

Title: Red Scarf
Genre: YA Historical
(241 words)

The beginning of the end for my family was the knock at the door.
It was after midnight when it roused me from a fitful sleep. My parents had spent the night arguing, so my dreams had been filled with great terror and a sense of impending doom. I could still hear them now; moving about in the study, opening cupboards and trying hard not to be heard in the glacial Russian twilight.
When the second knock came, louder and more prolonged I got out of bed, tiptoed to the window and looked down into the courtyard. That’s when I saw the Black Maria, axle deep in the dirty grey snow, its side emblazoned with the mocking slogan – ‘Moscow’s finest cuts.’
I knew then that they’d come for my father.

“Sonia, wake Kolya and get dressed.”

My father stood in the doorway, ashen faced and wearing his finest grey suit. He held an envelope tightly in his hand.

“Pack some clothes, dress warm and take this.”

He gave me the envelope.

“Hide it carefully and don’t open it until you’re alone or with someone you trust.”

He paused.

“No. Show no-one, trust no-one.”

Then he kissed me and left the room.

Kolya was fast asleep, his little body hidden beneath the blankets. I listened to his breathing and tried to decide what I should tell him. Should I be honest and say father had been arrested?

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

Post by kathrynroberts » August 9th, 2010, 10:56 am

Christian Lewis counted each step that took him off German soil. Each step was filled with anxiety. He was leaving against his will. His body moved while his mind yelled at him to stop.

Air whisked around Christian’s body. He stood in the small opening between the entry door and the boarding onramp to the plane. He only realized he had come to a full stop when his sister pushed him forward.

“You’re going to have to get on eventually,” Laura said. Their dad was fishing around his bag for

How could she take this transfer better than me? Maybe her lack of life-shattering experiences made her blind to the scars these transfers left behind.

She’s still young, he thought, depressed. He would ignore Laura the rest of the flight.

A flight attendant with fake platinum-blond hair greeted Christian, urging him to board. Since he couldn’t stand there for long without looking like an idiot, he went onto the plane and found his seat.

When a different flight attendant brought a batch of flight crackers, Christian thought of lunging in front of her cart. Hidden in front of it, out of sight of his dad and sister, he would sneak away. Deep down he knew it was a crazy thing to do. It wouldn’t work. Still…

His sister sat beside him. She would listen to music and/or sleep the entire flight. Not pay attention to him. His dad, who began studying paperwork the moment he sat down, wouldn’t even look Christian’s way until the flight was over.

The entire (long, depressing, miserable) flight Christian thought about escape. He watched the clouds, over the hump that was his sister, roll by, all the while imagined hiding in the bathroom until the flight ended, leaving the airport without anyone ever knowing…

No one would ever hear from Christian Lewis again.

Of course he was too chicken to do anything so dramatic. Christian’s father, the Major, would catch him and then he would pay a horrible price.

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

Post by Kim_B » August 9th, 2010, 2:38 pm

Title: The Mists of Na Crainn
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

A knife of wind cut through the leaves above the girl’s head. Their shredded remnants bolted forward and so did she, running with her arms pulling at the air.
“Lyric Doherty!”
Had she truly heard her name being called? Lyric brushed the thought aside, ignored the call and kept to the path. To stray meant more danger than to keep to the footway she now traveled by memory.
This time the voice certainly came from somewhere nearby. Lyric stopped, and only in stopping did she make out a slight glow on the ground, just to the right of the path—a shimmer like water. The light from a single star illuminated that one spot ever so slightly.
Lyric took a few more steps then slowly eased herself down to her knees. Her eyes fixed on the small patch of grass. She stared a long while, or what seemed a long while. The dry foliage above her head thrashed against itself, sounding a familiar warning.
Something is here, she thought. Her fingers quivered as she threaded them through the blades. The task required care, or otherwise whatever called her might slip away, as it sometimes did if she were too eager. The object might sink into the ground or dissolve into the air or… What’s this?

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

Post by ninafromnorway » August 9th, 2010, 3:42 pm

Title: Remember Who
Genre: YA adventure/mystery
Word count: Prologue

I was sure my spine was going to break this time – like chains wrapped around my stomach being pulled by horses on each side, forcing me to hold my breath. I didn’t dare myself to move, for fear of making it worse - I only kept very still until the bulldozing pain had passed. It was centered like a ring around my stomach and back, and then I could feel how it rolled down like waves through my thighs towards my toes. “Just go with it Cerin, breathe” Ma said. But knowing I had hours of this ahead of me, didn’t encourage me to go with the flow. The labor was rolling in to its fifteenth hour, and now there was no turning back.

I am Cerin, I think. Somehow I felt a connection to that name once. And I may be 16, or so they say I am. Derrick was holding my hand, doing as much as he could there and then. He’s not the father by the way – he’s a great guy, but not the dad. The door to my delivery room opened and Steven entered. He was rushing to me with a glass of ice cubes, but suddenly they didn’t seem appealing to me anymore. Unfortunately he’s not the father either. I don’t know who I am, you’ve probably guessed that already. I have some clues: I speak English, so I could be from Great Britain, or so we have always thought. Until:

”Se og få denne forbanna ungen ut av meg !”

For a brief second the room went silent and everyone exchanged glances. Derrick leaned over to Steven and carefully asked him: “Did you know what language that was?”, and Steven replied “I have no idea!”

And that’s how my story starts.
Last edited by ninafromnorway on August 14th, 2010, 4:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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

Post by berinnrae » August 9th, 2010, 4:33 pm

Genre: Paranormal Romance

The guy’s aura betrayed him. Whatever he was up to was bad. Like tearing wings off butterflies bad. And he was walking directly toward her.
“Yeah, I got him,” she said to the small terrier pawing at her leg.
Her teeth clenched as she stood completely still under the shade of the wing, watching him continue toward her. The plane was the only thing that stood between her and the man no more than twenty feet away.
She grabbed her logbook and pretended to read it in one hand as she clicked off the safety on the gun she held in her other hand behind her back, never letting the guy out of her sight. Everything about his energy screamed foul. And that big ball of ugly was intently focused on Kerra and now only ten feet away and closing the distance.
“Hey! Can I help you?” she yelled out, waving the logbook in the air. She had jumping beans in her stomach, but if this guy thought she would just lie down and let him steal her plane, he would learn very quickly that she was the best student her sensei ever taught.
No response. Instead, he just kept walking right at her, unfazed.
The fool had to be an idiot to try to steal a plane with its pilot standing right next to it. Unless…
Oh shit.

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

Post by ARJules » August 9th, 2010, 4:50 pm

Title: (To be determined)
Genre: Popular fiction/paranormal
Word Count: 255

Being murdered once was bad enough. Three times in a row was pushing on the ridiculous.

Standing at the end of a long corridor, Nafrini just stood and stared at the massive wooden double doors, nearly ten feet in height and inscribed with glyphs. The path, or rather river, to the “afterlife” lay on the other side. She just stood there and glared at the doors, listening to nothing but the drip… drip… drip… of water leaking from the fabric of her clothes and the strands of her hair. She might have been there for what could have been five minutes or five hours before reaching out to the gold inlaid handle and jerked the wide, massive door aside.

That’s it! I have had it! The sound of her stomps across the warm colored polished stone floor might have had a sense of purpose to it, had it not been for the apparent squish that came with each step. She passed through was she had termed “the waiting room”, barely noticing that the men and women lounging in comfort seemed to have halted their conversations at her arrival. As her anger peaked, whether at their reluctance to greet her or by the situation in general, she pulled her heavy over-shirt over her head and threw it to the ground, which landed with a satisfying SPLAT! Without a backwards glance in the others’ direction, she passed through to the entrance to the river of the dead. It would take her to those who would choose her fate.

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

Post by st4rdog » August 9th, 2010, 5:11 pm

Title: The Game
Genre: Technothriller

Money, money, money, Louie thought. Why’s it all about money? He swiveled in his computer chair and looked at the awards shelf. Awards don’t mean shit. He imagined sweeping his hand across them all, knocking them down one by one. He laughed, spraying bits of saliva onto his keyboard.

“What’s so funny?”

“Spying on me, Matthew?” He wiggled his eyebrows and made a monocle shape using his fingers. A bit cheeky, but there was plenty of harmless banter to be had when your company consisted of just two employees.

“You finished unwrapping that model yet?”

Unwrapping was the process of flattening a 3D object. Just like making those polyhedral nets in primary school that when folded together would make a cool 3D cube. As the lead artist, this was all part of Louie’s job. Mind-numbing work, but he was good at it.

“Not only have I finished unwrapping it, Matthew,” Louie said, gesturing to a nicely-finished model of a sofa on the monitor, “I’ve hand-painted the texture, created the material, and imported them all into the engine.” The look on Matt’s face and was just ugh. “That bad?”

“No, no, no.” Matt forced a smile. “The model’s good, but it’ll all be for naught if we don’t find investment soon.”

“Nobody biting?”

“They’re not sure about the market, so they can’t invest that kind of money.” Matt sighed through gritted teeth then meandered back to his small partition.

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

Post by Xiexie » August 9th, 2010, 9:13 pm

Title: So Very Unwicked
Genre: Paranormal Fiction

“Thrice, the brindled cat hath mewed…” Hestia began twirling about the room before her sister stopped her.
“Do give that a rest, Hestia!” Camilla barked, rolling her eyes at her sister’s display.
“Thrice and once the hedge-pig whines,” Tesira chimed, giggling along with Hestia. The two of them continued in unison, “Harpier cries, ‘‘Tis time! ‘Tis time!’”
“You fools. Why bring up that old nonsense?” Camilla opened another book and slapped it on the table. She pored over the ingredients and frowned.
“Nonsense?” Hestia responded indignantly. “I say, it wasn’t nonsense when we wrote it! It wasn’t nonsense when that cad-of-a-‘poet’, Shakespeare, stole it from us! It isn’t nonsense that that spell, our spell, has become almost a rubric for modern day, popular Western magical spells! If the laws then were what they are now, we’d be stupid-rich by syndication rights alone!”
Camilla couldn’t help but smile. “Syndication rights? Off your head, you are.” She fumbled down the list of ingredients again and pointed to a term. “Does that say dhole’s claw?”
Tesira rushed up next to her sister and smoothed her brown hair behind her ear. “Not just any dhole-claw, Milla.” She studied the symbol once more. “This brew calls for Great Sardinian Dhole’s claw.”
“Where are we to find a Great Dhole’s claw?” Hestia pondered, sliding her index finger through the air. Wispy tendrils of gray-green smoke followed along with her dancing hand before billowing into an image of the animal. Standing full-size in amongst them was something stuck between a wild fox and a hyena.

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

Post by Sally Hepworth » August 9th, 2010, 10:55 pm

Title: A willing hostage
Genre: Commercial fiction
(218 words)

Chapter 1
There was blood on his face, but it was not his own. It was hers. Mae. The girl who held him at gunpoint and forced him into the yellow station-wagon. Strangely, he felt bad for her. It was difficult to watch a woman being hit. Even if she was the one holding him captive in a tool shed.
“What the fuck Mae? You just had to go, hand over the drugs, collect the money, return. How did you come back with no money, no drugs and a God damn hostage?” He hit her again. This time she fell across Davey’s knees, face down.
Davey wanted to pick her up, comfort her – an inherent instinct, obviously – but his hands were tied. Literally. She lay for a couple of seconds, then pushed herself up, faced her brother again. Or step-brother, from what Davey could ascertain.
“Well you’re going to have to kill him” he said. “This is your fuck up, so you can do it. I am not going to jail for murder because of you.’ He handed her the gun.
Davey was scared. Concurrently, he thought that she should turn the gun on him – Simon, was his name – after the beating he’d given her. Surely she must be considering it?
“Fine” Mae said, taking the gun. “I’ll do it.”

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Location: Georgia

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

Post by Camden » August 10th, 2010, 12:01 am

Title: Pilgrims of the Southern Cross
Genre: soft science fiction
Words: 212

March 14th, 2337
The tall grasses whipped and bit against his legs as Caius ran flat out through the fields. It was the sort of run where all the anxiety and stress of a lifetime would melt down out of your chest and heart, and power your legs with the raw will to run. As if by beating his feet hard enough into the ground and digging deep enough into the soil, he could somehow crush all of life’s problems into dust and leave it a million strides behind him. Maybe running here, where running was still possible, could feel like he never died at all. Perhaps escapism would permit him that one simple indulgence of ignorant bliss if he would only give it his every effort.

Caius refused to let his body stop him. Pushing his muscles to the limit through the pain and fatigue gave him a peace, a high. The more he felt it, the more he yearned for a bigger taste. He trapped himself in the present, running from the past and from the future, from nowhere and to nowhere. An existence he felt would only endure as long as he strived to move as fast as a human could move, and then just a little harder still.
Last edited by Camden on August 16th, 2010, 5:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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

Post by JPerryK » August 10th, 2010, 1:22 am

The activist scrawled her motto on a roadside placard and kicked the metal signpost.

"The most dangerous truths are truths denied." Cassandra Shavano

The sign mocked her failure to raise eco-awareness: No Trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted. Beyond it, a gravel driveway arced up a canyon that groaned with mechanical thunder. She abused the post because writing graffiti felt pathetic, because she had crawled out of bed at four o'clock to bake blueberry muffins for her 'no-show' allies, because graffiti written with a yellow marker vanished on a yellow sign, but mostly because her protest had flopped.

Despite her creative visualization the previous night and burning a green candle, no celebrities, fellow activists, or reporters were in sight—only two ravens on a power pole, ponderosa pines along a county highway, and the virgin peaks she longed to defend. Spooked by the kick, the ravens flew off.

Cassandra gave the road a last hopeful look and gazed up the canyon. If she stayed to picket, it would just be her, her dog, and a bunch of angry miners. The next time she could try a weekend. She turned to leave and blanched.

“No!” she screamed at her beagle. “Don’t!”

Laced with cyanide, a torrent cascaded beside the drive—dead water that poisoned wildlife in valleys below her daily walks. Extending his tongue to lap the stream, her dog ignored her like everyone else.
Last edited by JPerryK on August 12th, 2010, 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by surlyjason » August 10th, 2010, 7:16 pm

Title: Psi-kick: Red Utopia
Genre: Sci-fi Crime Thriller

There is no sky in the New York Arcology. In this expensive neighborhood, a long orange plasma tube on the high ceiling substitutes for the sun. The foreign light is hard on my tired eyes even with my HUD sunglasses. The morphing lenses are currently tinted to “hangover dark”; inside a heads-up-display is scrolling local police bulletins. Most cops forego the glasses display in favor of a neural wirejob, but Psi-kicks don’t like to implant things in their heads, so I go with the spiffy shades.

Like most of the middle class, I sleep only eight hours a week, but for me it’s long overdue. There’s no rest for a Psi-cop when another young girl has vanished. Same Modus Operandi as two previous in the last 48 hours. En route I found the missing girl’s picture and provided it to the press; it’s already being broadcast on every news node, Worldweb domain, and holovid in North America, if not the civilized world. Not one burly thug sitting in a ghetto porn theater has escaped word that this fourteen year old girl has been kidnapped.

Nevertheless, as before no reliable calls, no promising tips. Nothing.

It’s best that Michelle and I got out of the Psi-kick dormitory. The rage that’s in me now would have everyone there on edge. As is, I feel a little sorry for Michelle. She too is Psi-kick, and trying real hard to hold in tears of frustration. My emotions on top of that aren’t doing her any good.

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

Post by StephanieG » August 10th, 2010, 8:10 pm

Genre: YA fantasy
Word count: 242

Prologue –Ten Years Ago
D.L. Bliss State Park, Lake Tahoe, CA

Every inch of Melody’s small body was covered in dirt. She didn’t belong here and she wanted to get out. Craning her neck upward, she fixed her eyes on the underside of the cracked rock that she and her younger sister Ellie had just fallen through. Whoa—that was high, impossible to climb. They would have to find another way out.

“Ellie—” Melody shifted, turning to her right, but her sister was already gone.

“Hey, stop!” Melody yelled, getting up from the ground as she watched Ellie carelessly skip down the tunnel that had trapped them. “We don’t even know where we are… we need to find a way back home!”

“Maybe this is the way home.” Ellie quickened her pace, shifting into a run. Man, her sister could be a brat.

“Well, at least slow down so I can catch up.” Melody began running too, but she wasn’t fast enough to catch Ellie before the tiny blond girl entered the cave at the end of the tunnel.

Melody started feeling queasy; she didn’t like that she could no longer see Ellie. Their mother always warned Melody not to let her sister out of her sight, and now they were lost and Ellie was gone.

Melody pushed herself to run faster, hurrying toward the cave and intending to force Ellie home when she found her, but something else happened instead.


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