Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Upon her retirement in 2012 Jan Fedarcyk was the only woman to lead the FBI’s prestigious New York Office as Assistant Director in Charge. Fidelity, her first novel, draws upon her twenty-five years of experience as an FBI Special Agent.

Fedarcyk applied the Page 69 Test to Fidelity and reported the following:
On page 69 we see Kay Malloy having brunch with her beloved Auntie, Justyna Dabrowska Alvaro-Nunez. We see Kay’s curiosity in her parents’ past and Justyna searching her memory for old and faded recollections. Kay is synthesizing what she is hearing with what she knows from her Bureau experience, but she is trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together without the cover of the box. Why is she questioning something that happened 30 years ago? The reader gets a sense that completing the puzzle is important to Kay to understand her past and at this point the curious reader will want to know what that information will reveal. So, read on!
Visit Jan Fedarcyk's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fidelity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 17, 2016

"The Murder of a Queen Bee"

Meera Lester is the author of nearly two dozen nonfiction books and the proprietress of the real Henny Penny Farmette, located in the San Francisco Bay area. Raising chickens and honeybees, she draws on her life at her farmette as the basis of her Henny Penny Farmette mysteries.

Lester applied the Page 69 Test to her second Henny Penny Farmette mystery, The Murder of a Queen Bee, and reported the following:
On page 69 in The Murder of a Queen Bee, a recipe is featured (each chapter opens with a quote and ends with a farming tip, recipe, or craft). So, if readers are interested in recipes, they might read on, but I think it’s fair to go back one page in The Murder of a Queen Bee, where the text of the mystery continues. My heroine-sleuth Abigail Mackenzie, once besotted by old boyfriend Clay Calhoun who abruptly left her on Valentine’s Day to run her farm alone, now questions why he’s returned, if she can ever trust him again, and why she would want to.

During his absence, she’s increasingly come to trust one voice—her own. And now that she’s deep into solving the murder of her herbalist friend Fiona Mary Ryan—with the help of the deceased’s brother—Abby doesn’t need Clay making demands on her time, confusing her emotionally, or complicating her life. For his part, Clay professes he wants to rekindle the connection and tries to smooth-talk his way back into Abby’s life.

She wants to believe him but knows that it means creating a new paradigm. The culmination of these moments begins to spin the story off in a new direction for both the B plot line (the romance) and the A plot (the murder mystery). I believe the pull exerted by these two lines on page 68 will keep the reader glued to the book until the payoff at the end.
Visit Meera Lester's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Murder of a Queen Bee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"The Row"

J.R. Johansson's books include Insomnia, Paranoia, Mania, and Cut Me Free.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Row, and reported the following:
I've never actually done this test before, but I'd say that this page is pretty representative of the raw emotion of the rest of the book even if it doesn't fully capture the mystery or suspense elements. In this scene, my main character, Riley, is reeling from some of the questions she has about the possible guilt or innocence of her own father.

Here are a couple of quotes from that page that perfectly capture what I'm referring to:

"The only way I can keep any friends is by lying to them, and I know from experience, the truth always comes out in the end. People keep you at a distance if they think killing runs in your blood."

"How many times has Daddy declared his innocence over the years? One hundred? One thousand? Were those the lies?...How many times can you lie to someone you love before everything you share becomes the lie?"

These are the underlying issues and questions she faces throughout the story, so I'd say this page is definitely a good representation of at least the big thematic elements of the book.
Visit J.R. Johansson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 13, 2016

"Vivian in Red"

Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. Her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, was a Target “Breakout” pick and a “Great Lakes, Great Reads” selection by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. Her other novels have been honored by independent booksellers, including an IndieNext Notable designation for The Life You’ve Imagined.

Riggle applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Vivian In Red, and reported the following:
Set-up for scene: Milo Short, elderly Broadway producer, has had a stroke. His son and wife are at his bedside, and they think he’s asleep. His son, who is heading up the family business now, speaks first.
“We haven’t had a hit in too long, and this…” A pause. He’s probably waving his hand over me, this problem here, “ … is taking a bite out of the one solution I had in mind.”

The High Hat.”

“Yes, The High Hat. Book and show, and what the hell? Maybe even movie. Can you see it? I wonder if Leonardo DiCaprio can dance.”

“All our problems solved by a dancing DiCaprio? How convenient.”

“You joke, but it would probably do the trick.”

“You never talk like this in front of him.”

“He won’t listen anyway, is why. Anyway, I’m not talking in front of him. He’s out like a light here, and no wonder after his little adventure. Did you threaten him with a nursing home?”

“I mentioned it, yes, though I got no pleasure out of it. I’m not ready to parent your father. I do that enough with my parents.”

“Oh come on, you love being in charge of everything.”

“That’s not fair, and no, I don’t. Hardly. But it’s not like I have much choice.”

Their conversation devolves into bickering, and I’ve gone from a harmless, sleeping elderly stroke victim to something even more insubstantial. They don’t even concern themselves now with waking me.

Their argument breaks off quick, like a tape reel that’s snapped. I hear the quick clicking of a woman fleeing in pointy heels. I wait to hear Paul’s footsteps follow, but instead I hear him flop into one of those chairs by the fireplace, and he doesn’t move.

Go after her, I’d like to say. Make up, apologize even if you’re right, because so what? This little argument is worth so much to you? I’d say the same to her. Who cares who started it?

I care.

You again. Go away. Are you a dybbuk now? I’ve heard the stories.

Ha, a shiksa like me? I hardly think that’s allowed.

You’re nothing. You’re stroke damage in my brain.
Page 69 of Vivian in Red represents the novel well. We have elderly Milo, who has so much to say, but has been struck mysteriously mute, unable to recover his language even with therapy. We have the next generation, oblivious to the needs of their elders, and last, we have the enigmatic vision of Vivian, a woman from Milo’s past who appears only to him. To Milo, Vivian looks exactly like she did in 1934, though she should be 90 or dead.

This is where the tension arises in the novel: the intersection of Milo’s past with his present, complicated his inability to have a voice.

One important character who does not appear on this page is Eleanor, Milo’s granddaughter and the family misfit, who has reluctantly agreed to write a biography of her grandfather. Eleanor will begin to sense that there’s something about her grandfather’s past that’s connected to his inability to speak. This is not just because of the biography project, but also her innate introverted temperament. In a boisterous family of extroverts, Eleanor has learned the art of quiet observation. She’s able to read her grandfather, even without his voice, in a way that no one else can. This puts her in a unique position to uncover the secret behind Vivian, in red.
Learn more about the book and author at Kristina Riggle's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kristina Riggle & Lucky.

The Page 69 Test: Real Life & Liars.

The Page 69 Test: The Life You've Imagined.

The Page 69 Test: The Whole Golden World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"Death of an Avid Reader"

Death of an Avid Reader is the sixth in Frances Brody’s 1920s series featuring Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth.

Brody applied the Page 69 Test to the new novel and reported the following:
This is the oddest page 69 I have described. The incident fits into the plot but to say why would be a spoiler.

On a cold foggy day, Kate Shackleton has driven home from the haunted library, having given a lift to a loquacious neighbour. This neighbour clearly has something on her mind but doesn’t say what.

Kate has put her car in the garage. Later she must go back into town, having agreed to take part in a ceremony to lay the library’s ghost. She won’t drive, because of the fog, but will take the tramcar.

Thomas, a neighbour’s boy, knocks on Kate’s door to tell her that there is a noise from her garage. She suspects a childish prank, but investigates. Kate and Thomas find a scared but sociable stowaway hiding in the car: a monkey. Thomas wants to take the animal home but Kate knows that his mother wouldn’t approve.

As the monkey guzzles sweet tea from a saucer, Kate and her housekeeper, Mrs Sugden, discuss what to do. Mrs Sugden consults Mees’ Children’s Encyclopaedia in order to identify the creature.
‘It’s a Capuchin, said to be bright and intelligent. They like to swing through the woods and they’re not too fussy whether they eat nuts, berries or insects. They come from the Amazon.’

She glanced at the monkey. It was beside me, holding the hem of my skirt, its head tilted, listening to Mrs Sugden’s every word. She softened a little. ‘Poor little mite. He should have been left to swing through the trees. If he swings through our trees he’ll die of frostbite before you can say bananas.’
Ever conscious of life’s niceties, Mrs Sugden closes the curtains. She doesn’t want the neighbours to think that Kate Shackleton has started a menagerie.
Learn more about the book and author at Frances Brody's website.

Writers Read: Frances Brody.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 9, 2016


Kay Honeyman grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and attended Baylor University, graduating with a Bachelors and Masters in English Language and Literature. Her first novel, The Fire Horse Girl, came out in January 2013. She currently teaches middle school and lives in Dallas, Texas.

Honeyman applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Interference, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Dad looked up from the pages India had given him. “Kate is not available during the election.”

“Why not?” India asked.

“She’s focusing on her studies.” He looked at me. “Right, Kate?”

India tilted her head and lifted her chin. “Is that the real answer or the answer we’re giving?”

“You can consider it both,” Dad said.
I was skeptical that any one page could represent the entire book, but I was delighted when I turned to page 69 and saw so much of my story on that page – a daughter’s tense and sometimes distant relationship with her political father, the strain of an election, reality vs. perception, adjustment to West Texas life, and photography. This is one of Kate’s more vulnerable moments in the early chapters, so much of what she will struggle with surfaces.
I flinched at the dismissal before I could catch myself. India’s brow wrinkled for a second. “Good luck,” she said to me.

I rummaged around my room and found a small box and a piece of paper. When my hand brushed my camera sitting on my desk, I picked it up and slung it around my neck. The weight grounded me.
It’s a glimpse into the hurt, the shield she uses to mask it, and the photography that will eventually help her see things more clearly.
Visit Kay Honeyman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 7, 2016

"The Masked City"

Genevieve Cogman is a freelance author who has written for several role-playing game companies. She currently works for the NHS in England as a clinical classifications specialist. She is the author of the Invisible Library series, including The Burning Page, The Masked City, and The Invisible Library.

Cogman applied the Page 69 Test to The Masked City and reported the following:
This section is taken from page 69 of The Masked City. At this point in the novel, Irene’s apprentice Kai has been kidnapped, and she’s starting to appreciate just how dangerous the situation is.
“It is unlikely that his direct family would abduct him or leave a note to say he’d left. It would probably be beneath them. However, any royal family does have subordinates, junior relations, and in general people who would take on Will nobody rid me of this turbulent priest? suggestions with too much enthusiasm. One of them could have... And there are factions among the dragons. Not all of them support the royalty.”

Irene sighed. Yet another uncertainty. “So I can’t be sure of their involvement.”

“No,” Coppelia said. “You can’t. Or rather, we can’t. And no, we don’t have any secret back-channels that we can use to ask about it, on behalf of the Library, either.”

Irene tilted her head slightly. “On behalf of the Library, perhaps not, but how about from a private perspective? Isn’t there anyone out there who knows someone who knows someone, who could ask...” She let the phrase trail off hopefully.

Coppelia shook her head, a definite no, but she also looked wary. Clearly there was someone who knew someone who knew someone else out there, even if they couldn’t handle this particular issue.

“Of course there isn’t,” Irene agreed bitterly. She could see where this was going. “Even if someone did have access to the dragons, they’d be too high-ranking within the Library to act alone. And the Library can’t be drawn into this?”

Coppelia spread her hands. “Precisely. There’s only one person in this situation who can ask...”
Looking at that section, the reader can see Irene realising how deep the political waters are. She’d been assuming that it might be a straightforward kidnapping, either by Kai’s direct enemies, or his family’s enemies, or alternatively by his own family because they don’t want him hanging around in her company. But now she’s beginning to realise that she can’t trust anyone, and that Kai’s own family might be divided among themselves. Worst of all, the Library won’t necessarily be able to help her. She really is on her own.

And she’s the one who’s going to have to contact Kai’s family and try to find out what’s happened to their offspring, while bearing in mind that they may decide it’s all her fault and take reprisals.

Nobody ever said that a Librarian’s life was going to be easy...
Visit Genevieve Cogman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"The Ferryman Institute"

Colin Gigl is a graduate of Trinity College with degrees in creative writing and computer science (no, he’s not quite sure how that happened, either). He currently works at a start-up in New York and lives with his wife in New Jersey.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Ferryman Institute, his debut novel, and reported the following:
What a great question. To be honest, it both is and it isn't representative of the book. On Page 69, Charlie is once again about to be thrown into an emergency assignment. It's one of the more serious, darker parts of the book, as there is nothing pleasant about this particular case. While the book generally has a bit more humor on display then is evident from that section, I won't say that it's entirely unrepresentative, either -- despite the humor, there's a serious core to this story. So a reader would certainly get that sense, but might not pick up on some of the lighter bits until later.
Visit Colin Gigl's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Ferryman Institute.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"The Candidate"

Lis Wiehl, author of The Candidate: A Newsmaker Novel is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels. She is a Harvard Law School graduate and has served as a federal prosecutor in the state of Washington and as a tenured faculty member at The University Washington School of Law. She is currently a popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel.

Wiehl applied the Page 69 Test to The Candidate and reported the following:
I’d have to say that page 69 of The Candidate is not the best representation of the book as a whole. That’s not to say it’s a jarring departure, but it’s a “softer” scene in which things are going relatively well for Erica. Usually things are much darker and suspenseful. On page 69 Erica is on a “play date” with her daughter Jenny, Jenny’s best friend, and the best friend’s father. Erica and the dad, Josh, have an immediate chemistry. Which is complicated for Erica because her fiancĂ© is in Australia helping a start-up news network, and while there he has probably strayed. So there are some complexities, but it’s not a heart-pounding action scene in which Erica fearlessly – and at great personal risk – pursues the truth and speaks truth to power.
Visit Lis Wiehl's website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The Candidate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 3, 2016

"Into the Guns"

New York Times bestselling author William C. Dietz has published more than fifty novels some of which have been translated into German, French, Russian, Korean and Japanese. Dietz also wrote the script for the Legion of the Damned game (i-Phone, i-Touch, & i-Pad) based on his book of the same name--and co-wrote SONY's Resistance: Burning Skies game for the PS Vita.

He grew up in the Seattle area, spent time with the Navy and Marine Corps as a medic, graduated from the University of Washington, lived in Africa for half a year, and has traveled to six continents. He has been employed as a surgical technician, college instructor, news writer, television producer and Director of Public Relations and Marketing for an international telephone company.

Dietz is a member of the Writer’s Guild and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. He and his wife live near Gig Harbor in Washington State where they enjoy traveling, kayaking, and reading books.

Dietz applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Into the Guns, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, night surrendered to day—and Sloan spotted a smudge of land. The United States? Yes, he thought so, and felt a renewed sense of hope. After going ashore, the authorities would free him. With that out of the way, he’d contact his staff. Would the president want to speak with him? Probably ... Then he’d call the assisted-care facility to check on his mother.

That’s what Sloan was thinking as the gunboat rounded the south end of Padre Island. Sloan had been there numerous times and knew the area well. The boat slowed as they neared the Coast Guard station.

Once the gunboat was moored, Sloan was escorted up a ramp to a one-story building. A woman with two children stared at him. That was when Sloan remembered his bushy beard, ripped clothes, and bare feet. None of which would add to his credibility.

After being led through the scrupulously clean lobby, and past a reception desk, Sloan was escorted down a hallway to the holding cells located in the back of the building. The civilian clerk laughed when Sloan said he was the Secretary of Energy but wrote it down anyway. Then it was time to answer questions pertaining to his criminal record, health, and identifying marks if any.

Once the booking process was complete, and mug shots had been taken, an officer placed Sloan in cell 002. The six-foot-by-six-foot enclosure was equipped with metal bunk beds, a freestanding toilet, and a small sink. What light there was came from the single fixture located over his head—and a narrow gun-slit-style window. He heard a clang as the door closed. “Hey, dude,” the man in the next cell called out. “You got a smoke?”

“No,” Sloan replied. “I don’t.”

“Then fuck you,” the man said. “I hope you die.” Sloan was home.
Washington D.C. was a casualty of the meteor onslaught that decimated the nation’s leadership--and left the surviving elements of the armed forces to try and restore order as American society fell apart. As refugees across America band together and engage in open warfare with the military over scarce resources, a select group of individuals representing the surviving corporate structure makes a power play to rebuild the country in a free market image as The New Confederacy… They know that the President of the United States is dead, and that the mantle of leadership has fallen to Samuel T. Sloan, the Secretary of Energy. And if they can find Sloan, and control him, the country will be theirs.

But Sloan, who was in Mexico when the meteors struck doesn’t know, and is arrested while trying to reenter the United States.
Visit William C. Dietz's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"Bertrand Court"

Michelle Brafman is the author of Washing the Dead. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Tablet, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, Lilith Magazine, the minnesota review, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction writing at the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program and lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.

Brafman applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Bertrand Court, and reported the following:
Excerpt from “What Hannah Never Knew,” Bertrand Court
Sylvia caressed the slender handle of the spoon in her pocket; its metal ridge moved up and down against her leg as she walked. Her sister was expecting a child on Thanksgiving Day, and Sylvia knew she should give her their grandmother’s baby soon. Soon Sylvia would turn thirty, too old for babies. Besides, Irving said no more trying; two accidents, that was enough. He sent his girl Katie Flanagan from the office to teach Sylvia about the rhythm method. The nerve. She knew he used to shtup Katie before he and Sylvia got serious. She swallowed her humiliation, felt it lodge in her stomach, where Dr. Klein told her that her ulcer was forming.
When I first flipped open my book to page 69, I was a little skeptical about this literary instrument. This page represents the only story that occurs outside the timeline of a collection of very tightly linked narratives. Then I realized that Sylvia’s deliberations over keeping the spoon from her sister not only set the emotional stage for subsequent stories but convey the larger themes of the book. Like every other one of the twenty-plus narrators, Sylvia behaves badly in response to life’s pressures, in her case her bitterness about her marriage, jealousy over her sister’s fecundity, and silent unaired grief over the babies she’s miscarried. This decision to keep the spoon will ultimately ruin her relationship with her sister, and the accompanying tension and fear that cleaves to this object will plague Hannah Solonsky, Sylvia’s great niece, who will steal the spoon back from her aunt (but that’s all I’ll say for now). This book is about our bad choices and how we seek and grant forgiveness for them. No other moment distills this idea to its very essence. What a magical test!
Visit Michelle Brafman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Bertrand Court.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Margot Livesey's first book, a collection of stories called Learning By Heart, was published by Penguin Canada in 1986. Since then she has published the novels Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, Banishing Verona, The House on Fortune Street, and The Flight of Gemma Hardy.

Livesey applied the Page 69 Test to her eighth novel, Mercury, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Mercury, the beginning of chapter 11, shows Donald worrying about Christmas. "Thanksgiving had been hard," he tells us, "but it was only one day, an American day. Christmas had always been our family’s holiday. Every year had found us together, first in Scotland, then in the States, playing games, eating goose, hoping for peace on earth.” But now Donald’s beloved father has succumbed to Parkinson’s, his mother has fallen in love, and his wife Viv is devoting almost every waking moment to training a horse named Mercury. The description that follows shows Donald, a hard working optometrist, trying to distance himself from the pain of these changes.

I was surprised at the extent to which page 69 alluded to many of the main concerns of the novel. Although it is only when when readers reach part II, narrated from Viv’s point of view, that they can truly begin to understand the forces at work in Donald’s household.
Learn more about the book and author at Margot Livesey's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Flight of Gemma Hardy.

--Marshal Zeringue