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

Post by rddyer55 » July 29th, 2022, 1:03 pm

July 1975

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Ted, my best friend and roommate, was on the kitchen floored pinned under the massive weight of our biggest resident, Henry.

“What the hell is going on here?” I yelled from the door. My reflexes kicked in, and before Henry could react, I pulled him off. I locked Henry’s arms behind his back while he struggled against me. Even though Henry outweighed me by a good 30 pounds, adrenaline put me in control. The fact that I was 18 and a college jock also gave me an edge. Ted grabbed a chair, climbed to his feet and, after he straightened himself out, said, “Let him go, Mike”

That was against every instinct I had. Ted couldn’t have weighed half as much as Henry. While he was two years older than me, he was a shrimp by comparison. I shot Ted a warning look, but he stared back at me with control in his eyes. After hesitating for a moment, I said, “You better not breathe unless I say so.”

I loosened my grip and Henry stood between us. Surprisingly, despite his own anger, he made no move but just glared at us. Ted was breathing rapidly from the excitement. I think he knew he won a gamble. This was the first time Henry resorted to a physical attack to try and get his way so there was no way to know what might have happened.

Ted acted like this was normal. “I think you realize what you’ve done. It’s going to be a long time before you ever leave this house again. Now go to your room.” My eyebrows shot up when Henry went upstairs without another word. His head hung like a child who had been punished.

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

Post by Jmcmahon » August 11th, 2022, 9:33 pm


upmarket legal suspense

Chapter One

July 17, 1974

Six maintenance men - three to a side - walked the lifeboat down the hall, their work boots clopping on the courthouse’s terrazzo floor. They paused at the doors to Judge Jerome Green’s courtroom and gently placed the boat down, just ten feet from where Ted O’Connor sat on one of the wooden benches lining the walls.
Ted leaned forward, his forearms on his knees. He wanted to look away but he couldn’t, his attention tethered to the small boat in front of him. The keel caused the boat to tilt toward Ted, giving him a view of the three well-worn plank seats stretched across the interior. The exterior sides, once a glossy white, now sported the look of weathered wood and the gunwale, running around the top of the sides, was a faded blue. All in all, Ted thought it had remained pretty much like it was eighteen months ago. He closed his eyes and for a moment felt the sting of the ocean’s January cold seeping under his parka as he slammed through the water’s surface. He remembered the ache of his muscles after he flopped into the lifeboat. He heard the storm’s howl and the quiet that followed it. He knew the exact spot where he sat for hours that night.
Ted felt Emily’s hand on his leg.
“Your leg is bouncing really fast,” she said.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize.”
“When did Brooks say you would be testifying?” she asked.

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

Post by byron.reaney » August 12th, 2022, 12:56 am

Title: A blueprint for Humanity Genre: Fiction

Hubert Elias Mannity was lying on a threadbare mattress, in the overhead bunk of a rundown RV that, like him, had seen better days. He was wrapped in three layers of clothes and four shoddy blankets and still couldn’t get warm. He woke to the sound of the wind rising in pitch. The weatherman had predicted the snowstorm that swirled outside, but no one could have predicted the frozen hell that was his life. The temperature outside, and in his soul, was 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was the middle of the night and his body was telling him to sleep, but his overactive mind was wide awake. Like a hamster in a cage, his thoughts were always running around his head on a rusty wheel. There was a constant screak, screak, screak of regret and uncertainty. Each time the wheel stopped turning, the same emotions came up. Anger, disappointment, and resignation were the feelings du jour. In the last month, he had lost everything. He spoke aloud with sarcasm fit for a mother-in-law, the exhalation of his breath dissipating as fast as his life had turned to vapor.

"H, we’ve known each other for a long time, but the company is letting you go. Sorry buddy.”
“Hugh, I’m done. I’ve filed for divorce, I’m taking the house and full custody of Lena.”
“Mr. Mannity, your heart health is declining, There’s not much we can do.”

Four weeks. He lost his house, his spouse, his health, and his wealth in a December from hell.

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

Post by GaoYuQing » August 26th, 2022, 8:58 am

Title: Born to Battle

Markus staggered under the weight of the dead body, finally falling to one knee in exhaustion. After two days, his fur and armor were stiff with dried blood, its copper tang lingering in his nostrils. Around him, the rest of the band walked in respectful silence, not looking at him, having learned not to offer help to their captain. Two other dead bodies floated in mid-air beside them, the magical strain shared among the group, but Markus would let no other help him with Gravin, nor invoke the assistance of magic to lessen the load. This burden belonged to him. The weight on his shoulders, the buzzing of the carrion flies, the aching and grinding weariness in his muscles, the pain of his severed tail—all of these only the start of the penance that lay on him much heavier than any corpse. He gritted his teeth, bracing himself to stand once more, trying not to think of the final confrontation that lay before him—the presentation of the body to Kess, Gravin’s wife.

Kess, the only love Markus had ever known over the centuries of his life. The pain on her face, the cries of their children would lay his grief and shame bare far worse than any whip flagellating his flesh. Worst of all, he dreaded the questioning doubt in her eyes when he knelt before her, soaked and stinking of her husband’s blood.

A suspicion he could not deny, for he was responsible for Gravin’s death. A life he had already tried to claim once before. So now he forced protesting muscles to obey and stood with his load, ignoring the flies that buzzed about his head and crawled over his gore-streaked fur, and resumed the long march under the relentless summer sun. The weight of memories and his brother’s body bowing his once-proud back. After all, Gravin wasn’t the first member of his family whose death lay at his feet.

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

Post by Erasmus » October 21st, 2022, 8:12 am


She faltered for the briefest of moments, framed in the twilight between life and death.

It lay stretched before her, the largesse of the study with its paneled walls and high gothic windows that taunted the moon. A curtain of plush red rolled from her own redoubtable Gucci heels to the figure in the high-back leather chair.

The doll-like form trembled, her lips parsed and speechless. The face said it all, petite, crystalline-beautiful, the quiver-blonde hair cutting to the cheekbones like the sliver of a knife. The look in her eye was death, empty, as though something resembling soul had been hollowed out long before.

For a moment it swayed there, the .38 in her left hand, steaming cool against the scarlet dress of hip-hugging red that swayed to calf height like a curtain. Then the wrist that was all too slender raised the pistol, as if aiming through the hollow eye.

Two, three shots cracked against the lightning-threatened sky at the figure, the man she hated, the sneering arrogance in all its hubris. The man jolted, twisted, with each successive shot until slumping slow and monotonous, like sluice in a sack, the head falling temple-first onto the hollow oak desk.

When the gun expired, something in her being expired with it, a long slender thread of catharsis that went up like smoke and dissolved like acid.

Something like life flickered in her eyes. The lips parsed and this time moved, in the sweet sanctuary of vindication.

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

Post by Jswriting » November 17th, 2022, 3:39 pm

I am nominating my first page for critique.
The title is Even the Sparrows
Genre: I'd like suggestions here. It is based in the future with a mix of action, mystery and faith.

New York, 2041

Caring For Orphaned Sparrows

"Angie, ready for our story," Claire asked perched on her bed in a pink frayed cotton nightgown. Claire studied Angie. She looked tired and ready for sleep.

“Can it wait ’til morning,” Angie said with a yawn.

"No, please, I want to know what happens with James,” Susie chimed in like a nosy Raven wanting to overtake them.

"OK, just a little then,” Angie said sitting up straighter.

"Tell us, um, where James is,” Susie said.

"Well," Claire stopped to think.” James got out of the tunnel he was in."

"He did,” Angie said getting out of her bed and sitting at the end of Claire’s,“where is he now?”

”So James came out of the tunnel but it was so bright that he had to adjust his eyes. He rubbed them,” Claire wiped hers to act out the scene as she stood up to continue, “and squinted toward the light. He had been in there so long he wasn't sure what was at the end of it."

“Hmm, yeah, I remember he was there too long” Susie said eagerly moving closer to Claire. “Can I act out the scene too?” She asked. Claire nodded.

"He felt a chill in the air,” Claire wrapped her arms around her body, "and wished he had a sweater.”

"I remember he had lost his shirt in the water, right?” Angie said rubbing her eyes.

"You're right Angie, he did…

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

Post by BowtieDave » November 22nd, 2022, 4:52 pm

Set in 1983, this is the first page of a novel about an American architect working in Manila who has a terrifying side consulting job for the CIA. He has to deal with a Thai Prince who's put a bounty on him, along with the normal challenges of an architect designing a two million square foot complex.

Chapter 1 (Excerpt from "Manila Slay Ride©" by David S. Froelich)
Free Gift
Two years since Marcos lifted martial law, no threats on his life in five; his vigilance could have waned. Manila’s moist air filled with aromas of tropical flowers and exotic woods can intoxicate. The Hyatt’s lilting background music, mahogany doors, and trim could have jammed this architect’s senses; but the sound hit him. Who the hell was in his suite watching TV forty minutes after midnight?
Stealthily unlocking the door, Hap drew his pistol, opening the door a crack. Was a Thai officer behind the door ready to collect the ten million baht bounty; they nearly killed him twice in Chicago with none. Harley Arnold Brandt’s rugged, quintessentially American face was easier to track down in Manila, 8,000 miles closer to Bangkok. His eyes found a petite Filipina glued to the TV lounging comfortably on the sofa in a Hyatt bathrobe and heels. No gunman behind the door.
“Ikaw lang mag isa?” She seemed alone but he checked. The young girl wasn’t startled by his arrival as she muted the TV.
“Oo, waiting for Architect Brand-it,” mispronouncing his name with an impish smile. Hap checked the closet, bathroom, bedrooms, and balconies. Her clothes were hanging in the closet and she was indeed alone. He holstered the 9mm she never saw. Gutsy waif to walk into a stranger's hotel suite, alone, late at night.
“Who sent you?” Pack-tapping a Marlboro on his watch before flicking his Zippo, he offered, she accepted, letting her long silky black hair shroud her face. He lit another.

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

Post by Tish » December 2nd, 2022, 5:58 pm

Hello! Throwing my first page up for nomination. Any comments, tips, advice welcomed. Thank you for your time.

Story takes place in the present, but alternates with the past. Not sure what genre it falls under. I just write it how it comes. About 90,000 words in of projected 110,000 (or less).

Certain Dark Things

7th Century BC

When the past finally caught up with him, the speed with which it happened was measured in a scant space of seconds. He’d spent the years of his son’s young life fearing this moment, keeping them on the move in the hopes of outrunning divine retribution, only to be forced in the end to watch his son’s life unwind in a meager handful of heartbeats.

When his brothers came for Dumuzid, Eliel knew it the instant before he saw them, felt the shimmer of their presence touch his consciousness, sensed the static charge vibrating across his skin. And he knew why they had come.

He dropped his nets and was in motion before his thoughts could fully coalesce. Climbing from the water, Eliel ran for his son, who stood farther up on the beach. Muzi stood surrounded and unaware of the danger he was in, guileless and smiling in welcome at the strangers that looked so like his father. Eliel sprinted toward them, his feet barely touching the sand. His only thought a frantic prayer.

Oh no, please no, no…

One of them stood behind Muzi as another two took his arms, and Eliel saw his son’s expression change, the smile fading, eyes scrunching in confusion. Eliel saw his brother’s pull Muzi’s chin up and hold it with one hand, pressing the tip of a knife to his neck with the other. His expression smugly satisfied in the knowledge that Eliel could not stop him in time and that Eliel knew it, too.

Eliel screamed Muzi’s name as the knife snicked across the boy’s throat, his arms reaching out only a hands-breadth too short to stop it, a fraction of one interminable, hopeless second too late. At once, they released him and Dumuzid clutched at his neck as the incision began to yawn, his eyes and mouth wide, blood spraying across Eliel’s face and chest, blinding him.

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Joined: December 4th, 2022, 3:59 pm

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

Post by MelodyEMcIntyre » December 4th, 2022, 4:02 pm

Title: The Secret at Lookout Point
Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Gary Daniels glared up at a stairwell full of shadows. The lighting went out every couple of weeks and no matter how much the tenants complained, the landlord insisted there was nothing wrong with the wiring. He could take the elevator, but when the lights went out, the elevator followed. Gary turned on his cell phone flashlight and began his slow, careful climb. Sweat coated his body. The late August heat was oppressive with no air circulation.
Just before the top of the second flight, his phone rang. “Parents” flashed across the screen in white letters and Gary hesitated with his thumb over the accept button. Work had been rough enough already, and he was in no mood for a guilt trip. But when he pressed the red circle to decline the call, a harsh wind whistled up the stairs and turned the sweat coating his body to ice. Startled, he fell forward. His shin collided with the sharp corner of a step and his phone scattered across the landing.
“Shit.” His voice reverberated off the walls and echoed through the empty stairwell.
Darkness obliterated his sight and Gary struggled to sit on the steps and catch his breath. When the edge wore off his pain and he could think clearly again, Gary realized the power was still out and the wind couldn’t have come from the air conditioning.
Then where did it come from?
With a fresh shiver sliding down his back, Gary wanted out of that stairwell–now.

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Joined: December 6th, 2022, 9:46 am

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

Post by Yettee » December 15th, 2022, 2:14 pm

by Yettee
Title: Down the Rabbit Hole
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure

Today is the start of the Rock County Fair, the best four days of summer. The musical score of moos, baas, and snorts swirl among the aroma of greasy fries, funnel cakes and corn dogs and whiffs of animal dung, all part of Iowa’s farmland perfume. There’s always midway rides, a demolition derby, tractor pulls, and judging of 4 H projects. What more could a guy wish for in a perfect week?

“I cleared a spot on my bookshelf last night for the 4 H purple ribbon I’ll be bringing home after Saturday’s judging.” I rubbed my lucky pebble tucked in my jean pocket. I felt the Iowa quarter, toothpick, and bent paperclip in the shape of an R, all things I’d found on the streets of Kernel and part of my collection.

Wheels, my best friend since kindergarten, rolled her eyes.

“Only a spot? Not a trophy case like your big brother Tyson?”

I growled.

Last year was my first year in 4 H. Oliver, my rabbit, and I ended up with a white ribbon. Tyson laughed at it. He comes in first in everything he does: school, sports, even bingo at the VFW. He told me, white is for losers and then he started calling me Whitie. I’ll never forget it.

I grabbed the handles of her wheelchair and tilted it back and rolled my eyes back at her.

“Roosevelt, watch out for the potholes.” Wheels grabbed the armrest and huffed.

“No problem, I’ll keep my eyes open.”

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Joined: December 18th, 2022, 11:08 am

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

Post by carolwhite70 » December 18th, 2022, 11:38 am

Title: Murder at Buddha Dog House
Genre: cozy animal mystery

The morning of the murder, Turbo and I were lounging in the great room, intermittently dozing and watching TV. Chopped was on—Turbo’s favorite—something about a beef bourguignon. Per Nora, TV served as an intruder deterrent and as a preventative to keep us dogs from getting lonely. This was false of course: Turbo and I were perfectly capable of defending the house and entertaining one another. Before age snared her, she was the fiercest dog I knew. She was a black German Shepherd with yellowing snags and white about her muzzle. She was also a gourmand and habitually stole my food. There was little I could do. She was bigger than me.

Turbo flopped on her side. “Quit admiring your fur, Grendel.”

I gave her the side eye, which I reserve as my most judgmental look, then extended my tongue for a totally unnecessary swipe to my nethers. All was in place .

I am an attractive dog. My looks have made me popular with the ladies, both canine and human. I am often stopped on walks by strangers for the purpose of lauding my magnificence and running their hands through my silken hide. I was not always this alluring. When I was a pup, Arlo amused himself by naming me Grendel, after a literary monster, at a time I could in no way be considered attractive. But after the Terrible Tick Removal Incident, it was discovered that I sported the finest coat ever witnessed on a dog: lush, lustrous, and soft as a cat’s—and brindle in color—with a rust-colored stripe around my midsection.

I had just dozed off when the door from our garage slammed open and struck the wall so hard, the blast practically ruined my ears. It was Nora’s day off, but she had gone in to work—for just an hour she said, which turned out to be three. She kicked the door closed, threw her stethoscope on the credenza, then collapsed on the sectional.

“All hell’s breaking loose,” Turbo said, then wriggled onto her back to give Nora better access to scratch her belly. The phrase All hell’s breaking loose was a favorite of Turbo’s, that and What’s to eat?

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Joined: January 21st, 2023, 8:58 am

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

Post by rish » January 21st, 2023, 9:02 am


A sudden wind came from nowhere, carrying the stench of a body I knew lay up ahead; I had to be close.
I raised the collar on my navy-blue blazer, even as I sweated under the scorching August sun. I’d been walking for ten minutes in a wilderness park three hours north of Toronto, unsure of the direction. Why hadn’t someone met me at the park’s entrance?
I made my way across the forest floor with a band of screeching blue jays stalking me. They seemed to be calling to me. Although the canopy of tree tops shielded me from the blistering sun, it did nothing for the boggy ground under my feet. Every step brought up another cloud of mosquitoes, and I swatted at each new bite.
When I saw the yellow police tape just ahead, it spurred me forward.
I flashed my badge at the cop standing guard. “Good afternoon, DS Bradley, sir.” After I signed into the scene log, he briefed me on the team’s findings. I already knew who the victim was: Charlotte McPhee, thirty-eight years old, and a TV news anchor. They found her car at the west gate to the park. She’d been missing for forty-eight hours. Hikers spotted the body along with a knapsack, then fled, fearing a killer was on the loose.
I swung under the tape. The single female in the group, a police photographer, lowered her camera and nodded at me. Looking beyond her, I saw three investigators—two of them glanced over at me. Then I spotted the medical examiner kneeling next to the body.

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Joined: February 4th, 2023, 8:04 am

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

Post by Pipdekoning » February 6th, 2023, 3:04 am

Title: Last night I killed a man
Genre: Literary fiction

Thank you!

Last night I killed a man.

I’m not really sure how I feel about it now. Relief, mainly, that I didn’t get caught. But I’d been planning it for so long, it feels like an anti-climax. I hadn’t been planning to kill John Hampton all that time, just someone, although it had to be a man. Some perverse chivalry, I suppose. And Hampton fit the profile I’d developed. But I’m not sure I’d object to killing a woman if the right target presented itself.

It’s not that he didn’t deserve to die. Like I said, he fit the profile. It’s just I thought I’d feel more than a bit empty. And very, very tired. Maybe the tiredness is a comedown from the adrenaline. I know it can do that to you, and I was fairly swimming in it last night.

I don’t think I’m a psychopath, sociopath, or any other kind of “path” for that matter, though I’m sure a doctor would give me a label. It’s inevitable, I suppose, since killing people isn’t seen as acceptable behaviour, which is probably a good thing.

Hampton is the first person I’ve killed, though he won’t be the last. He was a test. Not a test of me being able to kill - I’ve never doubted my ability to do that, which I’ve always thought sets me apart from other people, makes me special. He was a test of the methodology I’d developed. Maybe I should write a book. Murder 101. Something for the Amazon self-publish crowd.

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Joined: March 26th, 2023, 1:43 pm

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

Post by Kate » March 26th, 2023, 1:47 pm

Back to Square One
Chapter 1 – The Early Years
As I lower myself onto my chair, my insides clench painfully and the heat rises to my wind chilled cheeks. The teacher’s desk is empty. I alone of my classmates know what has happened. Miss Halstead finally trudges through the door holding a bunched Kleenex to her eyes. Her voice breaking, she utters, “President John F. Kennedy has been shot.”
I wasn’t able to stop it! How could I? I’m still a child. Who would listen to me? One thing is sure, my father will believe me now. Even if he puts it down to premonition, he’ll listen.
I try to slow my breathing, exhaling slowly. If I couldn’t prevent Kennedy’s death, how will I stop a war? The room goes in and out of focus as if I’ve been set in place with no awareness of my surroundings - apart from them. Focus, things I can see, the wood desk with the ink stain, the ragged cuff of my sleeve, touch, the chewed pencil, my thin hair ribbon, hear, muffled distress – tune that out, the wind against the sill.
As the shock settles, I examine my fellow students perched on their hard wooden chairs. Many of their young faces are streaked with grief. All I can see of the tallest boy at the back of my row is the top of his blond head pressed into his crossed arms, shrouding his desktop.
My chief competitor for the honour roll raises his hand. Breaking the silence, he demands, “How? Why?”

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Joined: January 23rd, 2020, 5:51 pm

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

Post by snf123 » April 8th, 2023, 1:09 pm

The Spy from Palestine by Steve Haberman
a thriller
They had motored along Fleet Street in the City of London only briefly when Jonas caught their chauffeur’s worried glance in his rear-view mirror. “Mr. Shaw sir, I believe we have someone following us.”

“We do?” Jonas frowned at Charly beside him, then peered above his Financial Times to their driver. He had slid back the glass panel that separated the rear passenger seats from the front and looked frightened of the threat.

“Yes, sir. When we passed Essex Street, I thought he might be tailing; now I’m sure.”

Jonas shifted around and stared out the rear limousine window. The traffic at that summer hour, a squawking chaotic mess of cars, trucks, and buses, infuriatingly thick as ever. On the crowded sidewalks, some protesters in black leather jackets shook fists and waved signs, BOYCOTT THE LONDON DAILY NEWS and SHAME ON TYCOON RUMBOLD. “That Bentley behind us?”

The chauffeur glanced up again from his rear-view mirror. “No sir. Three vehicles back. That beige van. It just passed the Golden Horse pub and Barclay’s Bank. It’s in front of that red double-decker bus now.”

“You sure, Nigel?”

“Absolutely, sir. It’s kept us within sight for several blocks.”

Jonas tossed his Times aside. “You see, Charly? I told you this would happen again. Sooner or later.” He withdrew a newspaper from his leather satchel beside him and shook it at her. “You’re not just another journalist."

“He said for the umpteenth time.”

“Yes, dear, for the umpteenth time. You write stuff like this. Article after article in the London Daily News calling for a homeland for displaced Jews—”

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