Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Southern Fatality"

A freelance writer for more than ten years, T. Lynn Ocean has published in magazines nationwide. She is the author of the novels Fool Me Once and Sweet Home Carolina.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new book, Southern Fatality, and reported the following:
It's a question I've never considered before: is one page in Southern Fatality — specifically page 69 — representative of the entire novel? Hoping that it would be, since every page should add something to the story, I quickly found my advance copy of the book. The page in question is a scene between celebrity financier Samuel Chesterfield and the main character, Jersey Barnes. Chesterfield's son has just been kidnapped. While I'd probably select a different page if given the chance, I do think that a reader who happened upon page 69 would want to read more. Perhaps they'd flip back to page 21, where Jersey tells her long lost father that she had a boob job, compliments of U.S. taxpayers, to enhance her undercover abilities. Or maybe the reader would jump forward to page 99, a great fight scene where Jersey and her best friend Ox take down some bad guys at Wilmington's Water Street Restaurant.

My books aren't overly deep reads and I'll quickly tell anyone who asks that I write to entertain. It's my goal not only to pique a reader's interest, but make them laugh as they keep turning pages from a desire to know what happens next. It's also a personal goal to make each new book better than the last. So thanks, Marshal, for giving me the one page challenge. What a great reminder to eliminate any lackluster pages that a reader might want to skip over! Southern Fatality is the first of a new mystery adventure series featuring Jersey Barnes, and I'm in the process of going back over the manuscript for the second in the series, Southern Persuasion. Perfect timing.

Page 69:

This was a tough situation. Since it involved Samuel Chesterfield, the Feebies should be called, but as much as they tried, they couldn't be invisible. A professional would spot FBI boys in a second, and might just carry out the death threat that was in the note. Although any kidnapper who killed their captive would lose their bargaining chip, so it was probably an empty threat. On the other it may not have been an ordinary kidnapping. The murder, and now the missing son, were most likely tied to the computer data that Soup was working to decode. People, even billionaire financiers, just didn't keep a database of United States residents' Social Security information in a gym bag lying around on the floor of their penthouse condominium.

"I can't give a recommendation until you level with me."

"There's nothing to level with you about. My son is missing. He's a good boy and he wouldn't just disappear like this."


"I don't know who killed him, or why. It had to have been a random thing."

"Lolly's suspicions?" I didn't want to let on that I was formulating several of my own suspicions.

"Groundless. She may think I've been acting odd, but she doesn't know me well. We've only been married less than a year."

"You have several options," I said carefully. "The local police, the sheriff's office, the SBI — State Bureau of Investigation, private investigators… or all of the above. I can't really say until I see the note, talk to some people and get a line on who may have taken him. If in fact it really was a kidnapping."

"Whatever your rate is, I'll pay it. I'm a smart enough man to know when I need outside help, and this is one of those times."

"Problem is," I said, "I only work for the good guys. And, while I am sorry that your son appears to be missing, I'm not so sure that you're the good guy in this scenario. I think you're giving me a Reader's Digest condensed version of the story."
Read an excerpt from Southern Fatality and learn more about T. Lynn Ocean and her writing at her website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue