Monday, October 20, 2014

"Blue Warrior"

Growing up in a working class family in central California, Mike Maden spent a fair share of his youth in slaughter houses, canneries and feed mills but a lifelong fascination with history and politics ultimately led to a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California (Davis) focusing on the areas of conflict, technology and international relations. After brief stints as a campus lecturer, political consultant and media commentator, Maden turned to studies in theology and a decade of work with a Dallas-based non-profit where he eventually discovered fiction writing. Drone was the result of a recent challenge by two published friends to try his hand at a novel. Written primarily in Texas, Blue Warrior was edited in the shadow of the gorgeous Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee where Maden and his wife Angela now happily reside.

Maden applied the Page 69 Test to Blue Warrior and reported the following:
Page 69 of Blue Warrior occurs in a Senate intelligence briefing. It’s a little wonky because it lays out what’s at stake for both the U.S. and China in the shifting sands of the distant Sahara desert. But the chapter also demonstrates the skill and insight of Senator Barbara Fiero, one of the novel’s primary antagonists. She’s the smartest person in the room—and also the most dangerous. Unfortunately, not a single drone takes flight nor do any bullets fly on this page but there’s plenty of that coming in the chapters that follow. I want my readers to know what’s at stake for all parties involved in my novels, especially the bad guys. Like some wag once said, every villain thinks she is the hero of the story. A great antagonist is never against the hero; she only pursues her own goals that happen to conflict with the hero’s goals. What Senator Fiero wants is actually much bigger than what they found in the desert, and she has both the power and the will to get what she wants, unless….
Visit Mike Maden's website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Drone.

The Page 69 Test: Drone.

My Book, The Movie: Blue Warrior.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Echopraxia"

Peter Watts is a former marine biologist and the Hugo and Nebula nominated author of novels such as Starfish, Maelstrom and Behemoth, and numerous short stories. He has been called "a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive" by the Globe and Mail and whose work the New York Times called "seriously paranoid."

Watts applied the Page 69 Test to his novel Echopraxia, the follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight, and reported the following:
First off, let's dispense with the adolescent snickers and agree that we're probably not the first to notice the sexual connotations of this "69 Test"; let's spare a moment to wonder if this blog's editor actually chose "Page 69" for any other reason.

Now, let us never speak of it again.

If I had to choose a single page that capsulized Echopraxia's underlying themes, or highlighted an especially intriguing character, or even just infodumped some nifty-cool bit of science all over your shoes (this book has a lot of that), there are maybe 382 pages that I would choose over 69. Here's what happens on that page: our protagonist, Daniel Brüks, is awakened from a lucid dream in which he's been conversing with his Imaginary Wife. (His real wife has retreated into a virtual environment for superfluous humans called "Heaven"; we can assume from the adoring and ego-boosting nature of the current apparition that Brüks has probably— let's say, idealized — the dream wife over the real one.)

Anyway, the dream ends because sudden bodily discomfort is causing Brüks to wake up. The chapter ends when the dream does. We get a nice pithy epigram, courtesy of Samuel Butler, leading into the next chapter—

To himself everyone is immortal: he may know that he
is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead.

—and then Brüks wakes up, his fingers all pins and needles, and goes for a piss.

Exciting, huh?

If you'd opened the book a few pages back, you'd see that Brüks is at a monastery inhabited by hive-minded monks who used their tame tornado to fend off an attack by military zombies. If you just flipped just one page further on you'd learn that he's all tingly because of a gengineered neurotoxin that's in the process of turning all those monks into tortured twisted body-art exhibits. A few pages past that and you'd see Brüks In Spaaaaaaaaac as the Big Quest got underway.

But noooooo. You get to see our protagonist caricature his ex-wife in his dreams, and then wake up with tingly hands and a full bladder.

Doesn't that just make you want to race out and buy the book?
Learn more about the book and author at Peter Watts's website.

Blindsight is one of Charlie Jane Anders's ten great science fiction novels, published since 2000, that raise huge, important questions.

My Book, The Movie: Peter Watts's Rifters trilogy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"The Boy Who Killed Demons"

Dave Zeltserman's many novels include Monster: A novel of Frankenstein. His short mystery fiction has won the Shamus, Derringer and Ellery Queen's Readers Choice awards. His crime thrillers, Small Crimes and Pariah, both made the Washington Post's best books of the year list in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and Small Crimes was selected by NPR as one of the 5 best crime and mystery novels of 2008.

His horror novel, The Caretaker of Lorne Field, was shortlisted by the American Library Association for best horror novel of 2010 and was also a Black Quill nominee for best dark genre book of the year.

Zeltserman applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, The Boy Who Killed Demons, and reported the following:
The Boy Who Killed Demons is written as a journal by a fifteen year-old boy who sees demons living among him—creatures who are able to disguise themselves so that everyone else sees them as humans--and takes it upon himself to discover what the demons are up to, and ultimately to save the world from them. Since page 69 is the start of a new journal entry, and is about his parents messing up his plans for the day to look further into demon activity, it’s reasonably representative of the book, especially the flip tone that is used.

While The Boy Who Killed Demons is ostensibly a horror novel, it also deals with heroism from a very unlikely source, teen angst, and has a good amount of humor, and all of that is evident on this page (although you might have to squint a little to see it). The fifteen year-old hero of the novel, Henry Dudlow, not only has to battle demons, but he has to do this without anyone else knowing about it, especially his parents, who have their doubts about their son.
Learn more about the book and author at Dave Zeltserman's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Small Crimes.

The Page 69 Test: Pariah.

The Page 69 Test: Outsourced.

My Book, The Movie: Outsourced.

The Page 69 Test: A Killer's Essence.

My Book, The Movie: A Killer's Essence.

Writers Read: Dave Zeltserman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"We Are Not Good People"

Jeff Somers was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and regrets nothing. His books include the Avery Cates series of novels published by Orbit Books. He sold his first novel at age 16 to a tiny publisher in California which quickly went out of business and has spent the last two decades assuring potential publishers that this was a coincidence. Somers publishes a zine called The Inner Swine and has also published a few dozen short stories; his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006, edited by Scott Turow and his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris.

Somers applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, We Are Not Good People, and reported the following:
As it happens, page 69 of We Are Not Good People is ideal, as it actually touches on several themes of the book, is the moment where the protagonist actually realizes just how much danger he’s in and is the first real interaction with the villain, and even includes a nice thumbnail of what the protagonist is: A Trickster.
She studied me for a moment with her bright, glowing green eyes. “Mr. Vonnegan, this is the price of your continued existence. Do you understand me? Refuse me, and I will take you as compensation.” She leaned back in her seat and placed one hand against her temple. “You cannot replace my property. You are not suitable. Suitable candidates are in limited supply and difficult to produce. Therefore, if you do not restore my property me, Mr. Vonnegan, you will suffer for it.”

The word suffer seemed to emerge from her in a cloud of poison, and I had trouble breathing.

I stared at her illusion of herself, and the illusion stared back, power beating against me like a hurricane. I frowned. “I am not a—”

“I know precisely what you are, boy,” she snapped, her voice drowning me. “Idimustari, Trickster. Grifter. A small man of small talents worming his way through life with childish gibberish. Cantrips and other mu, dust in the eyes of those who cannot see.”
The protagonist, Lem, is just starting to realize he is completely out of his depth, and that if he tries to protect the ‛property’ referred to here (a young woman named Claire) he’s going to be in for a world of hurt.

It’s also a good spot because it underlines another theme in the book, which is that no one is particularly good or heroic – hence the title of the book, which is very much an arc-phrase – but there are levels and gradations of badness. Our protagonist might not be a good person, but he is not as unabashedly evil as his interviewer here, who is seeking to set new records for bloodshed.

It’s also a rare page in the book without any profanity.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: Chum.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Juliet's Nurse"

Award-winning author Lois Leveen dwells in the spaces where literature and history meet. A confirmed book geek, Leveen earned degrees in history and literature from Harvard, the University of Southern California, and UCLA, and taught on the faculty of UCLA and of Reed College. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Review of Books, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic and on NPR, as well as in numerous literary and scholarly journals and in film and performing arts festivals.

Leveen applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Juliet's Nurse, and reported the following:
Juliet's Nurse imagines the 14 years leading up to the events in Romeo and Juliet, as told by Angelica, the hired wet-nurse (she has the largest number of lines in Shakespeare's play, after the title characters, so I figured she deserved her own novel). Page 69, the very end of a chapter, may be the shortest page in Juliet's Nurse:
I searched and searched, and found the pearl. And if it was any sin to take it, surely it is absolution to give it over to the Church.

“I prayed to the Holy Mother to help me find the pearl Juliet choked on, and she did,” I say. “Only one, so that must be what the Blessed Maria knows the Church should have.”

Friar Lorenzo looks at me. Looks, I swear, into my very soul. Then he pockets his precious gem and sends us back to Ca’ Cappelletti.
These 88 words offer a fascinating glimpse into Angelica as both a character and a narrator. She is constantly caught between institutions and events against which she is powerless, on the one hand, and her unwavering impulse to assert herself and do what she thinks is best for Juliet, on the other hand. Because the novel is first-person narration, we only hear Angelica's version of events, meaning readers have to decide to what extent they do or don't believe her, even as we see her trying to twist situations to her advantage.

This particular page reveals a woman in 14th-century Italy who has worked out her own relationship to Catholicism, which governs so much of life in this time and place. She considers the possibility that she's sinning but then absolves herself of it. That's especially telling given that she's off to see Friar Lorenzo (Romeo and Juliet fans will recognize him by Shakespeare's Anglicized version of his name, Friar Laurence), who is her confessor but to whom she is decidedly not confessing. In fact, she's in a bit of a power struggle with him, because she's supposed to bring him more than one pearl but doesn't. As a woman who breastfeeds for a living, she regularly identifies (or perhaps overidentifies) with the Virgin Mary, whom she invokes here to justify her actions and to give herself more religious authority in her exchange with Friar Lorenzo.

It's important to consider that Angelica believes every word that appears on this page. She doesn't perceive herself as manipulative or self-justifying or competing with Friar Lorenzo. This might seem to make her overbearing as a narrator and a character, yet throughout the novel Angelica's complete devotion to Juliet wins us over, at least most of the time. Ultimately, this mini-scene signals the beginning of a conflict between Angelica and the friar that grows more significant later in the book. But it also shows us both Angelica's strengths and her flaws, which is one of the serendipitous wonders of the page 69 test.
Visit Lois Leveen's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Electric City"

Elizabeth Rosner is the author of The Speed of Light, which has been translated into nine languages and was awarded the Harold U. Ribalow Prize administered by Hadassah Magazine and judged by Elie Wiesel. It was short-listed for France’s Prix Femina and the recipient of the Prix France Bleu Gironde. Rosner also received the 2002 Great Lakes Colleges New Writer’s Award for Fiction. Her second novel Blue Nude was named a 2006 Best Book by the San Francisco Chronicle. Her essays have been published by the New York Times Magazine, Elle, the Forward, Huffington Post, and many anthologies. She is a frequent book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Rosner applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Electric City, and reported the following:
In all honesty I'd never heard of this test before, but as of today I've become a Believer. Fascinating how such a supposedly random detail can produce a perfectly ripe opportunity for encapsulating an entire novel!

In the case of Electric City, this page is the last of a pivotal chapter in which two of my main characters (the ones soon to be entangled in a sort-of-but-not-quite love triangle) have just been discussing their shared interest in the personal as well as collective history of the town in which they are living. They've met among the stacks of the Public Library, and the ghost of Charles Proteus Steinmetz hovers nearby. He was an eccentric scientist nicknamed "The Wizard of Electric City" and also "Modern Jupiter," for being the first to create artificial lightning in a laboratory back in 1919. Now Martin Longboat, Mohawk grandson of Steinmetz's best friend, and Sophie Levine, daughter of a post-war wave of immigrants and scientists, are considering the ways that the previous year's dramatic power outage (November 9th, 1965) is a portent of darkness and illumination yet to come. Sophie is left holding books in her hands that Martin has just been reading, books about his Mohawk ancestors and about Steinmetz himself.

Here are the two paragraphs from page 69:
The reference area of the library darkened behind her as she watched out the front door for her mother's car streaming through the rain. On the way home, passing storefront windows along State Street and the heart of downtown, she was startled to notice so many empty ones with signs saying CLOSING OUT and EVERYTHING MUST GO.

Some disturbances were becoming impossible to ignore. Where every streetlight might have once symbolized new life, the future appeared to be turning upside down. Was this the promise of change made by that blackout, a warning of what else could go wrong? Electric City was flickering and dimming, right in front of her eyes.
Visit Elizabeth Rosner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"The Groom Says Yes"

Cathy Maxwell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty Avon romances.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Groom Says Yes, and reported the following:
I’d never heard of the Rule of 69 before but I’m game for anything. After all, it makes sense. Page 69 is about a fourth of the way through the book. Stuff should be happening by then.

So I looked at that page in The Groom Says Yes. We are in Regency Scotland. Sabrina is the local magistrate’s daughter and the spinster of the parish. She’s the one the married women volunteer for all the tasks they claim they don’t have time to do. Her life has been uncomplicated, predictable, tidy. On page 69, her careful world begins to unravel.

She has stashed an unconscious, deathly ill stranger in the stable, planning to explain his presence to her overbearing father before she brings him in. Little does she know, but the reader does, that this stranger is a convicted felon who just barely escaped hanging. Not exactly the kind of guy you bring home to dad.

However, before she mentions their new houseguest, she must confront her father on a few secrets she has discovered he has been keeping from her. They argue and he leaves the house without telling her. She chases him to the stables, fearing he will see the stranger curled up in the pony cart and be angry. Instead, her father is so preoccupied, he doesn’t notice. He saddles his horse and rides off without a backward glance at her.

And in that moment, Sabrina’s life changes. Page 69 is where expectations and reality cross, leaving in their wakes choices and a call to adventure.

She has spent a lifetime taking care of others, only to realize she isn’t important in their lives. So where does that leave her?

Everything she has thought of herself will be challenged through the rest of the book, as it should be. After all, when do any of us really become interesting? When we are doing what is expected? Or when we step off the beaten path and take a chance?
Visit Cathy Maxwell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"The Body in the Woods"

April Henry is the New York Times bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels Girl, Stolen and The Night She Disappeared and the thriller Face of Betrayal, co-authored with Lis Wiehl.

Henry applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel for teens (and adults), The Body in the Woods, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“I’m sorry.” She pulled the pillow over her head.

Her mom snatched it away.

“We need ingredients. I’m going to Safeway.”

Alexis sat up. “No. It’s the middle of the night.” The clock read 2:18. “I don’t want you going out this late. The only people up at this time are drunk or …” she stopped herself from saying crazy “… or on drugs.”

“But I want to make cookies.” Her mom bounced faster and faster. “And I can’t unless I go to the store. We don’t have the ingredients.

There was no use arguing with her. Alexis was so tired that she had laid down in her clothes, so all she needed to do was push her feet into some shoes and grab the food stamps card and her coat.

The night was cold. Her teeth chattered, while her mother galloped in circles around her and laughed.

“Look at the moon!”

The streets were deserted, except for the occasional car. The neighborhood homeless were all curled up on their makeshift beds - flattened pieces of cardboard laid down in doorways. Alexis couldn’t bear to look at them. On days like today she worried that someday she and her mom might be right next to them.

At Safeway, the automatic door swung open for them. Everything gleamed under the florescent lights, all glass and stainless steel. There were only a few shoppers. People who probably never went out in the daylight. Maybe they were vampires. Or zombies, judging by their slow shambling.
Page 69 of The Body in the Woods presents one of the book’s subplots. There are three main characters—Alexis, Ruby and Nick—each with their own issues. Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for an autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

I did a lot of reading about bipolar illness and interviewed a member of Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (MCSO SAR) about the experience of having a parent who was bipolar. A friend of my daughter’s had a mother who lived on the streets for years, so that factored into the book as well.

The main plot of The Body in the Woods, which is the first in a series, is about search and rescue. I thought I knew what search and rescue did: find people lost in the wilderness. But it turns out MCSO SAR has two things that set it apart. First, only teens can hold leadership positions (they can even lead search teams without an adult being on the team). Second, about 30 percent of what they do is crime scene evidence recovery. Evidence they have found has been credited with helping solve dozens of murders. They’ve done everything from finding the rest of the scattered bones after hikers stumble across one while hiking, to finding guns, knives and bullets at outdoor crime scenes or where the criminal has discarded them, hoping they will never be found.
Learn more about the book and author at April Henry's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Girl, Stolen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Close to the Bone"

Lisa Black spent the five happiest years of her life in a morgue. As a forensic scientist in the Cleveland coroner’s office she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she’s a certified latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida. Her books have been translated into six languages and one reached the New York Times mass market bestseller’s list.

Black applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Close to the Bone, and reported the following:
Close to the Bone hits forensic scientist Theresa MacLean where it hurts, bringing death and destruction to the one place where she should feel the most safe—the coroner’s office in Cleveland, Ohio, where she has worked for the past fifteen years of her life. Theresa returns there in the wee hours after working a routine crime scene, only to find the body of one of her co-workers slowly cooling with the word “Confess” written in his blood. Another deskman (the guys who check bodies in and out, take initial reports and do a lot of heavy lifting) is missing and presumed guilty, but Theresa isn’t so sure. The body count begins to ramp up but for once these victims aren’t strangers; they are Theresa’s friends and colleagues, and everyone in the building is on the hit list including Theresa and her BFF, Don. This creates a multitude of stresses for Theresa—her friends are dying, she refuses to condemn the missing deskman and her protective instincts go into high gear whenever it comes to Don, a younger man for whom she has long harbored not-so-maternal feelings. On top of that her homicide detective cousin is on vacation and the investigation falls to a stranger, Sergeant Shephard, an unknown quantity in her world.

But page 69, I have to admit, is hardly the most exciting page in the book. Theresa, Don, and Shephard are mulling over clues in the lab and even the secretary has grown bored with them and gone back to her phones. Theresa has just told the two men that a palm print found on a piece of evidence does not match their missing deskman, which disintegrates Shephard’s theory of the crime. All three of them brainstorm ideas of what this could mean in their current context.

While short on action, this page does show Theresa’s expertise in her chosen field, and the respect of her peers regarding this expertise. She knows fingerprints and she knows evidence. She also demonstrates both her loyalty and her realism when it comes to her colleagues. She won’t assume the missing deskman’s guilt until she’s sure of it.

I would hope this page would make a reader want to see how these three people hash out a solution, especially since by the end of the chapter Theresa will have worked through the logic to a major revelation. And by the middle of the book, everything about the situation will have changed.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

My Book, The Movie: Trail of Blood.

The Page 69 Test: Trail of Blood.

My Book, The Movie: Defensive Wounds.

The Page 69 Test: Defensive Wounds.

My Book, The Movie: Blunt Impact.

The Page 69 Test: Blunt Impact.

The Page 69 Test: The Price of Innocence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"The Boy Who Drew Monsters"

Keith Donohue is the national bestselling author of the novels The Stolen Child, The Angels of Destruction, and Centuries of June.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Boy Who Drew Monsters, and reported the following:
The Boy Who Drew Monsters is set in a small seaside town in Maine and takes place at the beginning of winter. In this scene, Holly Keenan, the mother of the Boy Who Drew Monsters, is meeting with Father Bolden, the parish priest. She’s come to see him because she is worried about her son Jack Peter and the mysterious sounds she has been hearing in her head.

On the wall of the rectory, a painting of a shipwreck has unnerved Holly. Father Bolden tells the story behind the painting:
The Porthleven ran into rough seas just as they came within sight of Maine. One December evening, a nor’easter blew in, and the ship floundered in a blizzard. A scrim of white so thick the poor captain could not have known how close they were to land. This whole area was snowed in, not fit for man nor beast, and of course, that lighthouse had not been built. The crew laid anchor but it did not hold. She hit a ledge of rocks and broke apart in twenty feet of water. Six crew and thirteen Englishmen, women, and child, including a vicar from Cornwall, and not a soul survived the freezing sea. People in the village discovered the first bodies next morning, stiff and coated with ice, and the story goes that not all the passengers were found, that some still lie at the bottom of the sea, and you can hear them keening on stormy nights, anxious in their watery graves.”

She shivered and wrapped her arms against her chest.

“You’ll have some of Miss Tiramaku’s coffee cake.” He pointed at the table, as she turned. “She’s a sensitive soul and will be heartbroken if we don’t finish at least half of it.”
This passage is key to one aspect of the novel: Holly’s growing anxiety about what is haunting her family. The priest, of course, shouldn’t be telling ghost stories, particularly to someone as apprehensive as Holly, and she immediately seizes upon the story of the shipwreck until it becomes an obsession that nearly drives her crazy. When he hears Holly repeat the story in front of her family, Jack Peter latches onto the details and starts drawing pictures from the depths of his imagination.
Visit Keith Donohue's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Cattle Kate"

Jana Bommersbach is an acclaimed and respected journalist whose work has encompassed every facet of the profession: she's been a reporter and editor for both weekly and daily newspapers; she's written books and is a major contributor to an anthology; she's written columns and investigative stories for magazines; she's appeared on television with both political commentaries and investigative stories.

Bommersbach applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Cattle Kate, and reported the following:
I never knew about the Page 69 test when I wrote Cattle Kate, so it's a delight to find that it captures such a poignant moment.

It's 1884. Ella Watson is a 24 year-old Canadian immigrant whose family settled in Kansas. But she is moving on, after a disastrous marriage and her decision—outrageous at the time—to not only get a divorce, but to demand her maiden name back.

She's headed to Wyoming Territory, where there's still land available under the Homestead Act and women, astonishingly, already have full voting rights. She's staking out on her own, although few women ever went West without a husband, father or brother at their side. She'll make her way and become one of the few women in the territories to have a claim in her own name. She'll apply for American citizenship. She'll become a foster mom to a motherless boy and build a life with a new man she loved.

And then it will all end on July 20, 1889 when cattle baron vigilantes strung her up with her husband to get her land and precious water rights.

To cover up the murder, the powerful Wyoming Cattle Growers Association concocted a fake story that transformed this homesteader into a dirty rustler and a filthy whore they named “Cattle Kate”--the only woman ever lynched in the nation as a cattle rustler. And for a century, history bought it. Some still believe it. Cattle Kate shows that the truth is far more powerful than the phony legend.

But all that ugliness is far from her mind the day she boarded a train to go West.

Here's a piece of page 69 of Cattle Kate:
“One way to Cheyenne?” the conductor asked as he punched my ticket.

“Yes, sir,” I smiled at him. To my surprise, he returned a real smile to me.

I’d been watching him punch tickets along the way, and I saw the phony smile he gave to most of the passengers. Especially the painted ladies three rows up.

One wore a red silk dress and a hat full of feathers. Another had checks so red, I wondered at first if she was sick, but then I smiled to myself when I realized it had to be rouge. One had
a snappy poodle and I thought it was queer that you’d bring a dog on a trip like this. Every one them had painted nails and hands full of flashy rings.

I had to look like a church mouse next to them. The conductor smiled at me again like he was looking at a sister after Sunday services.

“You have business in Cheyenne, ma’am?”

“I’m going to Cheyenne to start a new life.”

“Your husband meeting you there?”

“No, I’m on my own. I’m going to be a homesteader one day.”

I saw him flinch, like this was an amazing thing. I passed it off as just another man who thought I was a woman who didn’t know my place.
Visit Jana Bommersbach's website.

Writers Read: Jana Bommersbach.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Silverblind"

Tina Connolly lives with her family in Portland, Oregon, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic. Her stories have appeared all over, including in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Connolly applied the Page 69 Test to Silverblind, the latest book in the historical fantasy series that began with the Nebula finalist Ironskin, and reported the following:
From page 69:
At the sight of the two of them standing, the wyvern grew suspicious again. Although Tam started his whistle, the wyvern tilted its head upward, opened its throat to let out the strange ululating cry that would call back its mate.

"You'd better go," said Dorie. "One will nest and the other fight. You won't like that."

"You're right," Tam agreed ruefully. "Can we offer you a lift back to the city?"

"We?" said Dorie, dusting off and looking back at the nest. She watching the wyvern—graceful, proud, silver—and then the next moment she wasn't. It was falling to the ground, a dart protruding from its scaled chest.
Page 69 of Silverblind shows one of the key settings of the book. Ironskin was set in the country, Copperhead in the city, and now Silverblind is equally divided between urban and rural.

Dorie Rochart wants to do field work—tracking down wyverns and basilisks and any other strange creatures she can find. But when no one will hire a girl for such a dangerous job, she disguises herself as a boy and heads off to do it regardless.

So here she is, up in the mountains, in the forests, trying to gather wyvern eggs, and she runs into a familiar face from the past....

Silverblind is a standalone set 18 years after Ironskin and Copperhead, but if you’ve read the first two volumes, you’ll recognize Tam as the young boy from Copperhead. Dorie hasn’t seen him in a long time, not since they parted on unfriendly terms. Just her luck to run into him when she’s shapeshifted into the form of a boy.
Learn more about the book and author at Tina Connolly's website, blog, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Copperhead.

The Page 69 Test: Copperhead.

Writers Read: Tina Connolly.

--Marshal Zeringue