NEW - 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: April 12th, 2024, 2:55 pm

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

Post by bethshannonwriter » April 12th, 2024, 3:20 pm

GENRE: Mystery with Domestic Suspense Elements

First 250 words:

“You ready for your big night?” I ask. This party is to celebrate Curt’s birthday, but I need it to secure my social standing in Arlington. It will never be as prestigious as Georgetown. Those five miles placing us on the Virginia side of the Potomac River make a difference.
Curt sits silent on the edge of our mahogany four poster king size bed.
The tinkling of the harp drifts up the marble staircase and into our bedroom, even through the closed double doors. My stilettos, which cost more money than my parents ever spent on a mortgage payment, plunge into the high pile thick beige carpet as I step carefully, concerned I will trip. Crossing the room, past the loveseat and gas fireplace, which is too warm to use in April, I go to Curt, and cup his face in my hands. His fresh shaved skin is soft. The sage-patchouli scent of his Ralph Lauren cologne lingers around him, reminding me of when we met at that bar in Dupont Circle. He was all cocky swagger. No ripped t-shirt and jeans tonight. He’s handsome in his tux.
I lean in and place my lips on his, then sit on the bed next to him. My dress cuts into my waist, and I worry that I’m wrinkling it.
“Do we really have to go downstairs?” Curt murmurs. His lips brush the top of my ear. His breath is warm on my cheek.

Posts: 2
Joined: January 28th, 2022, 8:44 pm

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

Post by charleswhite » May 16th, 2024, 9:37 pm

Title: The Shrink
Genre: Literary Fiction
As I watch Leah Houston stroll across my Persian hand-knotted wool rug, I’m haunted by the feeling that my days as a shrink are numbered, part by health, part by ennui. My new patient’s body exudes a metallic smell, like freshly sheared copper, and there is a dark stain on the front of her creamy North Face jogging top. “What brings you in today?” I ask with practiced cool, though the area where I had my new pacemaker implanted two days ago itches and burns.
Leah wriggles in the leather armchair like an eel trying to throw a hook. “I’m seriously sleep-deprived, Dr. Noland, and when I do drift off, I’m plagued by horrible nightmares.”
Suspicion rises cobra-like from my memory basket of troublesome clients. “Any idea why?” I ask, leaning back in my Charles Eames lounger and glancing at her intake form—mother deceased, father receiving chemotherapy, insomnia, bulimia, recently returned from Medellin, Columbia. I wonder what she was doing there the previous two years, given my Columbian wife’s awe of Ingrid Betancourt, the liberal anti-corruption candidate who finished seventh in the 2022 presidential election.
“I was hoping you might be able to prescribe something.” Leah turns her head as she speaks, but I catch the concealed eyeroll, hear the suppressed sigh. As if it’s my job to dispense medication at her command.
For me, pills are a last resort. “Let’s talk a bit first. Quick fixes are not what I’m about.”

Posts: 1
Joined: May 17th, 2024, 9:11 pm

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

Post by VickeyThomson » May 17th, 2024, 9:29 pm

Title: He Who Does Not Exist
Genre: Fantasy

He walks in from the top doors of a lecture hall down to the podium. Everyone is turning, staring, they can’t believe it’s him. He’s wearing a dark pinstriped suit. He makes his way to the bottom of the stairs, turns, and faces the class.

“So you are my class of honor students, honor demons as it were. I am the devil. Boo!

“I know you were expecting something different; but, here is the big thing. We need to move in the shadows. We can’t be flashy. We can’t let everyone know it’s us. Sometimes that works in our favor, but, usually, it doesn’t. Usually, you need to work quietly in the background and have no one know you are or were there.

“So let me explain, how this class is going to work because you are the best of the best. You are the ones who are going to be in charge of the new demons, who harvest souls. It will be your job to train the newly promoted demons on how to get souls. As in, they will be helping people – go to hell! Well, to be honest, the people were probably already going to go to hell. Your trainees just make it so it’s a little more likely.

“So how this class is going to work is I will have you start describing the infamous deadly sins. I figured that was as good a place to start as any,” said the devil.

With that he moves into the thoughts of one of the students, Penny, who is sitting there quietly taking notes, very studiously.

He gets into her thoughts and says, “Hi, yes I am quite capable of being in your thoughts and as you will soon learn you can do it too.”

“Now, here is the best part, no one knows when we’re here. When you are here, inside someone’s mind, not only will you be able to read the mortal’s thoughts, you can kind of influence them. I’ve chosen you, Penny, because you were having quite a few thoughts while taking these notes and you seem very serious so I figured it was only fair for me to make a personal appearance.”

The devil now addresses the class

Posts: 3
Joined: January 19th, 2024, 9:33 pm

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

Post by CEA » May 31st, 2024, 11:17 pm

genre: mystery/police procedural

Sergeant Ruta Petrauskas sat down to pull on her boots, not the fashionable high-heeled boots she used to wear when she was thirty, but warm, non-skid, flat-soled footwear appropriate for snow and ice and a lady of fifty-five. She had stowed the boots under her desk in the morning and walked around in her comfortable slippers. The other day, she overheard two young officers saying she was a “sweet old lady.” Needing to contest that description, she poked her head out of the office and replied, “I’m not sweet.” Both officers were properly embarrassed and slouched off.
She pressed her fingers on the desk as if it could be compelled to give an answer. Just now the officer said a young man’s body had been found in the parking garage at the state university. No blood, so his body had been dumped there from someplace else. What was the world coming to? This was her second death of the month, and it wasn’t even the full moon. Well, she knew that moon stuff was a myth. Perhaps this was a bar fight that was taken to an extreme. Perhaps a lovers’ quarrel or a collection of a debt, revenge for an insult, and most likely accompanied by overindulgence in alcohol or drugs. The expressions of evil were myriad but the motives were trivial, cliched, and predictable. She sat up tall and straightened her shoulders.
If the young man’s body had been moved from someplace else, it was a more difficult puzzle. She would solve it though. Someone--a mother, a father, a spouse--would want this murder to be solved. She looked around the office.

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