Sunday, January 31, 2016

"The Ex"

Alafair Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ex, Long Gone, If You Were Here, and the Ellie Hatcher and Samantha Kincaid crime series.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Ex and reported the following:
Page 69:
This is what makes the Page 69 project so fun: a bunch of words removed from their surrounding context. OK, so what's going on here?

The beginning of the page is an email from widower Jack Harris to his best friend, Charlotte. He's telling her about a woman he saw at the crack of dawn, barefoot in last night's party dress, drinking champagne from a bottle while reading a book in the grass. Maybe, he says, he's open to meeting someone new.

Why do we care about the email? Because busybody Charlotte responded by placing a "missed moment" ad online, searching for the mystery woman. When the mystery woman responds by inviting Jack to the waterfront for a second encounter, really bad things happen. Three people are shot, and one of them just happens to be connected to the death of Jack's wife three years earlier. Jack is arrested for a triple homicide.

Who else is on page 69? Buckley. She's Jack's teenaged daughter, the one who calls a lawyer for her dad after he's arrested. And the first-person narrator? That's Olivia Randall, the defense lawyer. But she's not just any defense lawyer. She's also Jack's ex-fiance, the one who ruined his life twenty years earlier. The one who hurt him so bad that even his daughter knows Olivia will be willing to fight for him now at any cost.

For Olivia, saving Jack is a way to make up for past regrets--to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. In the process, she might also save herself.
Learn more about the book and author at Alafair Burke's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"The Good Liar"

Nicholas Searle grew up in the southwest of England and studied languages at the University of Bath. He spent more years than he cares to remember in public service before deciding in 2011 to leave and begin writing fiction. He lives in the north of England.

Searle applied the Page 69 Test to The Good Liar, his first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
But no: after a lunch of a greasy bratwurst smeared in garish mustard, bought from a street seller—a surprise, this, for Roy, given Betty’s dainty elegance—they are off again. They take the S-Bahn train and the bus to Charlottenburg to look at the palace and walk awhile in the Tiergarten district under budding chestnut trees, taking peeks at the large, silent villas protected by sophisticated security systems that line the genteel wide streets.

“I wonder what it must have been like to live here, in the nineteenth century,” she says, “or the early twentieth. Or the ’30s. The decadence, the forced fun, the glittering soirees. All that wealth, that confidence. Little did they know what was to become of them.”

“Oh yes,” he says, bored and sardonic at the same time. He is surprised by her energy and that light in her eyes. He thinks of himself as fit for his age but finds his limbs are weary, and craves the privacy of his hotel room and a quiet nap. He can do without this too, all this enthusiasm. He has lived a life long and eventful enough to know exactly how it was and needs no visual cues. He begins to wish he had never agreed to this trip.

“Oh dear,” says Betty, and his attention returns to the present.

“You look bored. And tired. Have we overdone it?”

“A little, maybe,” he replies with a tolerant smile.

“Let’s get you back to the hotel, then, shall we?”

She locates a cab, and he dozes as their voluble driver, against the backdrop of talk radio, rails against the fools on the roads as he accelerates and brakes erratically. It is all the fault of reunification and Europe, he says, these people flooding here from the East. Roy feels fragile and hears his heart beating. He can almost imagine himself in another age.

He gets his nap, but there is no time for a leisurely dinner as Betty has fluttered her eyelashes at the concierge and obtained tickets for the Berlin Philharmonic that evening.
It’s difficult to believe Page 69 has been chosen at random. It’s in Berlin, a place to which we return several times and contains some of the heart of the book, as well as – without giving the game away too much – smattering of hints and clues as to what lies at the book’s core.

Octogenarians Roy and Betty are in Berlin on a weekend break, having relatively recently found each other and moved in together. Betty’s paying and Roy would have preferred to go elsewhere. So he goes along grudgingly with her delight at being there and her immersion in the city’s culture and history. At heart though he’s seeking to edge his private agenda along and can’t see how this visit plays any material helpful role in that. The final straw is the classical music concert in the evening but Roy can’t afford to show too much distaste for the bourgeois proceedings. Instead, he hides his feelings and later that night goes out for an experience of Berlin’s seedier underbelly, ending up in peril.

On page 69 we can see the cogs of Roy and Betty’s relationship in motion and if we look carefully we may gain a glimpse at what’s really going on. But I hope you can’t; what I want you to sense is that all is not as it seems. Because it isn’t.

What a great page to pick!
Follow Nicholas Searle on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 29, 2016

"Up to This Pointe"

Jennifer Longo was a ballerina from ages eight to eighteen, until she eventually (reluctantly) admitted her talent for writing exceeded her talent for dance. The author of Six Feet Over It, she holds an MFA in Writing for Theater from Humboldt State University, where her obsessive love of Antarctica produced her thesis play about Antarctica’s Age of Exploration.

Longo applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Up to This Pointe, and reported the following:
Holy Moly! On page 69, Harper’s ballet teacher offers Harper, for the hundredth time, an opportunity to travel and live in England to become a certified Royal Academy Ballet instructor – then Harper, for the hundredth time, turns the opportunity down. This page, this moment, encompasses the entire crux of the conflict of Harper’s story. I’m having a real Freaky Friday moment here, this Page 69 thing is real, People! It’s the Ouija Board of book themes!
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Longo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Six Feet Over It.

My Book, The Movie: Six Feet Over It.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Where It Hurts"

Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR and the “noir poet laureate” in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman is the New York Times bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. He is a three time Shamus Award winner for Best PI Novel of the Year and a three-time Edgar Award nominee in three different categories. He has also won the Macavity, Barry, Anthony, and Audie awards. Best known for his critically acclaimed Moe Prager Mystery series, Coleman is releasing the first book (Where It Hurts) in a new series featuring retired Suffolk County (Long Island) cop, Gus Murphy.

Brooklyn born and bred, Coleman began publishing poetry in his mid-teens, continued to do so throughout college, and after he began working in the shipping industry. After taking a night class in American Detective Fiction, he quit his fulltime job and began writing his first novel. Where It Hurts marks the publication of his twenty-third novel. He is a former Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, helped found Mystery Writers of America University, and has taught as an adjunct instructor at Hofstra University. He resides on Long Island.

Coleman applied the Page 69 Test to Where It Hurts and reported the following:
From page 69:
When I pulled the door open, a shaft of light followed over my shoulder. That bought me a few steps of anonymity, if not much else. Maybe it’s a refinement of their senses or instinct, but whatever it is, losers can smell cop on you. And no amount of OxiClean or cheap cologne washes it away or masks the scent. I worked with a guy, Bob Ward, who claimed that cops were born stinking of it. The losers turned their heads and looked, not so much out of curiosity as self-preservation. It was fair to say that most of the mutts in Harrigan’s owed something to people on the street and they never knew if the next guy coming through the door was there to collect on their debts or to extract late payment fees. Late fees on the street were as much matters of skin and bone as dollars and cents. I sat down at the bar and ordered a Corona. When I did that, the losers exhaled and went back to waiting in the dark bar for the door to open again.

I waved the barman over. He was covered with so many tats that he looked like a ‘70s subway car. So much so that it was impossible to discern where one tattoo ended and another began. As far as I could tell, all the tats were gang-and-motorcycle-related. Made sense. Harrigan’s was owned by Richie “Zee” Zito, and Zee had once been the Long Island chapter leader of the Maniacs Motorcycle Club. Calling the Maniacs a club was like calling the Gestapo a club. They were thugs. Unlike his patrons, Zee generally liked cops. Why wouldn’t he? His place was a great resource for the Suffolk PD. We knew all sorts of shit went on here, but as long as none of it got too out of hand, we kind of looked the other way. And Zee paid us back in kind. He wasn’t averse to pointing us in the right direction when we needed a tip or a little help in finding a suspect.
Where It Hurts is as much a meditation on grief and loss as a crime story. At its center is Gus Murphy, a recently retired Suffolk County uniformed police officer who had the world or figured out … or so he thought. Gus is a guy who, in spite of twenty years on the job, isn’t a cynical bastard. In fact, when he retires, he thinks he has everything a man could ever want: a great marriage, two nearly grown kids, a lovely suburban house, a nice pension, and all the time in the world to enjoy it all. The universe, though, had different plan for Gus. Shortly after retiring, his son dies of a hidden heart defect while playing ball. Suddenly Gus goes from a man who understands everything to a man who knows he understands nothing. His grief and betrayal are so encompassing that his world and marriage are blown apart.

Two years later, Gus is working as a courtesy van driver and house detective for a rundown hotel near Long Island’s MacArthur Airport. He’s still lost and barely able to put one foot before the other until Tommy Delcamino comes back into his life. Tommy D., an ex-con who Gus had arrested several times, comes to ask Gus’s help in solving the brutal murder of his own son because the SCPD seems utterly disinterested. After Gus reluctantly begins the investigation, Tommy D. is himself killed. Page 69 is takes place as Gus begins looking into both murders. Richie Zee was Tommy Delcamino’s best and only friend.
Visit Reed Farrel Coleman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"The Radiant Road"

Katherine Catmull is a writer and actor in Austin, TX. Her first book, Summer and Bird, was both an IndieBound New Voices Pick and an Amazon Editors' Pick for fall 2012.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, a YA fantasy called The Radiant Road, and reported the following:
Page 69 is an unexpectedly excellent sample of The Radiant Road! For one thing, it’s the only place in the whole book that the title appears.

Clare has just returned from America to the house in Ireland where she was born—a stone house under a hill, with a tree inside it. On her first full day there, she is song-led down a forest path, where she meets an unusual boy.

One thing we know about Clare—and which she has explained to the boy—is that she hates the absurd and childish concept of—in fact, the very word—“fairies.” But now:
She held two thoughts in her mind, both at once, and both lightly, one in each of her mind’s hands: fairies aren’t real; and this boy, this earth-rainbow-making boy, this boy of her memories, Timeless boy—he is, he is real. Then, quite easily, she let the first thought spill away into the air. She had been wrong; almost her whole life, she had been wrong about fairies (still, that word, though, ergh), had been wrong about what to believe in. It felt hilarious now, to have been so wrong.
Clare writes poetry, although even to herself she won’t call it that—“not poems, just notes for poems.” But now the boy has told she was born to protect her tree, which connects their two worlds—and that she keeps that connection alive and flowing with art and making.

That night—on page 69—she wakes in the dark to write:
With her poem before her, she thought of how her small makings had a big reason: to keep the tree alive, to keep her connection alive: to the other world, and to making, and to dreaming.

And to Finn. She remembered sitting with him in their in-between, that was only theirs: how new but how familiar it was, to be in private with such a friend, a friend of her heart, the loveliness of it. The pressure of his arm against hers, the woody scent of him. A secret jewel.
The page ends with the beginning of one of her poems—and the title of the book:
Along the sea, the moonlight spills
A kind of path
For one with feet, not fins.
Bare feet and cold
Splash this radiant road. On water and light she runs
... and you’ll have to read the book for the end of the poem, and the end of the story, including all that’s missing from page 69: the adventure, the danger, the terror, the magic, and the trips into the night sky, into the roots of trees, and into the bottoms of dreams.
Visit Katherine Catmull's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"The Swans of Fifth Avenue"

Melanie Benjamin is New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife. Her new book, The Swans of Fifth Avenue is the #1 Indie Next Pick for February.

Benjamin applied the Page 69 Test to The Swans of Fifth Avenue and reported the following:
The Swans of Fifth Avenue is about Truman Capote’s relationship with Babe Paley, one of the leading Manhattan socialites of the 1950s and 1960s, and her fellow “swans,” as he called them, these beautiful, privileged but ultimately lonely ladies who lunch. It was a relationship that began when everyone was young and beautiful, including Capote, and it ended twenty-years later when Truman betrayed their trust and love by writing a short story in which he divulged all their secrets. They never spoke to him again, and it particularly shattered Babe, the envied but wounded wife of CBS founder William S. Paley. Truman was her “True Heart,” her best friend; most people felt she was the one person in his life he may have truly loved. His betrayal sent them both on a downward spiral; Babe died of lung cancer only a couple of years after the story was published, and Truman became the bloated, drug-and-alcohol addicted caricature we most remember.

Page 69 of The Swans of Fifth Avenue is a good representation of the beginning of Truman’s relationship with the swans. Truman and his friends are having lunch at Le Pavillon, one of their favorite places to be seen. Truman has instigated a little game, seemingly harmless on the surface but one of the swans, Slim Keith, has already detected the deviltry behind Truman’s fun. And it will be this deviltry that becomes more and more evident, until he betrays them all in his short story, "La Côte Basque 1965."
Truman was fun, so much fun—God, who else would show up at Kenneth’s while she was getting her hair done with the unpublished memoirs of a Paris gigolo and read them aloud to her in his most resonant voice while she was helplessly trapped by the hair dryer?—but there was always a dark undercurrent gurgling at his feet, threatening to suck under those who got to close.

“Now, I’m going to call out a name, and I want you each to hold up the appropriate card. Let’s start with something easy. Marilyn Monroe—a darling girl and a dear friend of mine, but oh, what a mess she is! Do you know”—he lowered his voice to a whisper—“that while she was married to DiMaggio, she was terrified of his mother? The most beautiful woman in the world, according to some—not me, though”—and once again, Truman squeezed Babe’s hand beneath the table—“spending her days in the kitchen trying to make spaghetti sauce just like Mama DiMaggio used to make?”

“No,” C.Z. squealed. “No! Are you serious?” And then she held up her Nose Job card, and Truman put his finger to his own nose, and they both giggled.

They leaned in to hear more gossip about the Hollywood star, whom no one would ever have invited into their homes, but in whom they were all voraciously interested, anyway.
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Alice I Have Been.

The Page 69 Test: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

My Book, The Movie: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

The Page 69 Test: The Aviator's Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 25, 2016

"The Lightkeepers"

Abby Geni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the recipient of an Iowa Fellowship. “Captivity” won first place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and was included in The Best American Short Stories 2010; it was also selected for inclusion in New Stories from the Midwest.

She is the author of the novel The Lightkeepers and the story collection The Last Animal.

Geni applied the Page 69 Test to The Lightkeepers and reported the following:
There is violence coming. There is a murder coming. But on page 69 of The Lightkeepers, the worst things have not yet happened. My goal in the first section of the book was to keep the reader intrigued, to fill the story with menace, to bring the characters to life, and, most importantly, to fully capture the strange world they inhabit.

On the Farallon Islands, a wild island chain off the coast of California, it is Shark Season. The characters are biologists. On page 69, Lucy, the bird specialist, has gone Scuba diving on her own, though great white sharks patrol the surf in terrifying numbers. Miranda, the narrator, is in the cabin, waiting for Lucy to return. She muses:
I was frankly astonished that there was diving equipment on the islands at all. It was perilous enough to travel around by boat without venturing beneath the surface. … Each time the door banged in the wind, I glanced up hopefully. Mick was out there, I knew, working the crane to bring Lucy home. It seemed as though he had been gone a long while. Too long.
Meanwhile, as Miranda waits peevishly, the biologists are talking about sharks. This was another goal of mine in this section: to give the reader a portion of the fascinating information I had learned in my research about marine life. I had fun combining data (animal facts) with life-or-death situations (Lucy swimming with sharks).
Galen and Forest continued their discussion in low, insistent voices. Forest was looking even thinner than usual, as willowy as a ballet dancer, with cavernous cheekbones. He and Galen were arguing about the white sharks. I was getting better at following their jargon. The Rat Pack was the group of males responsible for most of the attacks on seals and sea lions. A strip of ocean by Indian Head was their hunting ground. … Some were curious, easily lured to the surface. Some were aggressive, thudding into the [boat’s] side or trying to bite the motor.
Page 69 does what it’s supposed to do, I think. There is danger here, but nothing close to what’s coming. In the meantime, the book intrigues, informs, and bides its time.
Visit Abby Geni's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"Thread and Gone"

Lea Wait lives on the coast of Maine. A fourth generation antique dealer, and author of the Agatha-nominated Shadows Antique Print mystery series, she loves all things antiques and Maine, and she’s learning to do needlepoint. She also writes historical novels for young people set in (where else?) nineteenth-century Maine.

Wait applied the Page 69 Test to her latest mystery, Thread and Gone, and reported the following:
So, question. Is page 69 of my latest mystery, Thread and Gone, representative of the book?

On page 69 my protagonist, 27-year-old Angie Curtis, who grew up on the coast of Maine, and her friend Sarah Byrne, who’s from Australia, are eating dinner at a lobsterman’s co-op on a wharf overlooking Haven Harbor, Maine.

They talk about the difference between hard shelled lobsters and new shells, and about whether native Mainers eat much lobster.

They’re also concerned about Mary, a seventeen-year-old girl in town who’s inherited the home her family has lived in for generation and is planning to sell it so her fiancé will have enough money to buy a lobster boat. While cleaning her house she found a piece of medieval needlepoint, and asked Angie and Sarah, who have a custom needlepoint business that also restores and identifies old needlepoint, to appraise what she’s found.

What happens to that piece of needlepoint is at the center of the plot of Thread and Gone, and the relationship between several young people in town is key to two murders.

So – is page 69 representative of the rest of the book? Thread and Gone is a traditional small-town mystery. Page 69 sets the stage; it illustrates, in a small way, the difference between tourists in Maine and those who’ve grown up there. It points out the economic challenges for young people setting up a business. And it highlights the conflict that will lead to the murders at the center of the book.

As Angie and Sarah tear the claws off their lobsters and dip them in butter in an apparently peaceful setting overlooking Haven Harbor, they set the stage for violence to come.
Visit Lea Wait's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 23, 2016

"Up from the Sea"

Leza Lowitz’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Shambhala Sun, Asian Jewish Life, and Best Buddhist Writing of 2011. She has published over seventeen books, including the APALA Award–winning YA novel Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, which she cowrote with her husband, Shogo Oketani, and the bestselling Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By.

Lowitz's new book is Up from the Sea, a novel in verse for Young Adults about the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. BuzzFeed chose the novel as one of five new YA novels you should read this January.

Lowitz applied the Page 69 Test to Up from the Sea and reported the following:
Page 69 finds Kai, 17-year-old boy whose village has been destroyed in the tsunami, finally leaving the auditorium where he and the others have been sheltered for days. He and his best friend Shin are walking through their ruined town when the PA system chimes at 5 o’clock. Kai automatically starts to walk toward home, just like he’s always done. (In Japan, a PA system is used by communities to remind kids to go home for dinner). There’s just one problem: Kai’s home is no longer there, and his mother and grandparents are missing. Annoyed, Kai says that they should turn off the announcement, and Shin agrees. Kai loses it, snapping at his best friend, whose family has survived. Because “people who didn’t lose anyone/can’t really understand.” The rain beats down.

Kai runs away, into the wind along with wild-eyed dogs and cats who’ve also been abandoned. When he finds the warped skeleton of the place he used to call home, he gets down on his knees and claws through the slime bare-handed, realizing that all he’s ever known is really, truly gone.

It’s from that low point in the novel that Kai eventually becomes a man, makes a home within, and helps others who’ve lost everything in the disaster find hope again.
Visit Leza Lowitz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 22, 2016

"Eleanor"

Jason Gurley is the author of the novels Greatfall, The Man Who Ended the World, and the ongoing Movement series. His bestselling self-published novel Eleanor was acquired by Crown Publishing in the U.S., HarperCollins in the U.K., Editora Rocco in Brazil, Arunas in Turkey, and Heyne Verlag in Germany. His short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine and numerous anthologies, among them Loosed Upon the World and Help Fund My Robot Army!!! from editor John Joseph Adams. Gurley lives and writes in Oregon.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Eleanor and reported the following:
From page 69:
Eleanor shakes her head, and thought she doesn’t want to cry in front of Jack, his simple question flushes her skin with warmth, and she remembers distantly what it’s like for someone to care what she is thinking, how she is feeling. This notion lodges itself in her throat, and she suddenly finds it difficult to breathe. She puts one hand to her chest and opens her mouth, and an embarrassing honking sound comes out.

“Hey, hey,” Jack says, putting his arm around her. “Hey, now.”

She honks and gasps in big lungfuls of air, which only make her chest hitch more, and when she finally is able to let the air back out, she sobs on his shoulder.

She doesn’t see the photos still in the wastebasket—more crushed pictures of her sister, among them a photograph of the two girls together, torn in half, Eleanor’s side of the photo ripped into even smaller bits.

Eleanor lets Jack hold her for a moment, and then, certain that she has humiliated herself enough, she presses the heels of her palms into her eyes, roughly brushing away the tears, and she says, “This stuff isn’t trash. I’ll save it all later. We’re late.”

Jack regards her curiously. “Maybe you should play hooky today,” he says.

Eleanor shakes her head firmly. “I want to go now. Please.”

He gets to his feet, then offers her his hand, and she can feel the wiry cords of his muscles as he draws her up from the floor. She gives him a sheepish grin and wipes more of the tears from her face and says, “I still have to get the kitchen trash.”

“I already got it all,” he says. “Your, uh—your mother…”

Eleanor looks up at him and waits. “My mother what?”

Jack averts his eyes. “Those bottles…that’s from, like, a month, right?”

“No,” Eleanor says, squeezing past him. “That’s from this week.”

He follows, still keeping his voice low. “It’s so much.”

“I know.”

“She shouldn’t drink so much.”

“I know.”

“Seriously! Where does she even get—“
This is such an interesting test of a book, and yet one I can certainly connect with. I skim books a bit myself before I bring them home.

Page 69 of Eleanor is a surprising microcosm of the book’s larger themes and story. In it, teenage Eleanor and her only friend, Jack, are taking the trash out of her house. Eleanor discovers some shredded memories in one bin; Jack finds many empty liquor bottles. Both point to Eleanor’s mother, Agnes, who in her grief, has descended into a whiskey-soaked stupor. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the modern purgatory that Eleanor lives within, a fitting example of the aftermath of the tragedy she hopes to one day set right.
Visit Jason Gurley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"Wandering Star"

Romina Russell (AKA Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based YA author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Garber landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on a YA novel, Garber can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

Russell applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Wandering Star, and reported the following:
Page 69:
I nod as I scour all the activity blooming around me. Metallic-bodied androids bustle alongside dark-haired Sagittarians in the crowds, and though I don’t see any names on the piles of pathways, everyone seems to know where they’re going. High above us is a different picture altogether.

Rows of traffic ripple the sky as vehicles imported from all over the Zodiac and spanning every time period stop at holographic traffic lights, waiting. Whenever a green light blinks on, the next vehicle shoots off. They fly so fast they vanish from view almost immediately. Sagittarians may sometimes wander on the ground, but in the air they’re like arrows: When they pick a mark, they hit it.

Nishi and Deke lead us down one of the wider pathways, past a display of decorative centaur sculptures and shops with names like Robotic Reset (a spa for androids), Startastic Tastings (a market with foreign foods from across the galaxy), and Absolutely Abyssthe (the Sagittarian economy is export-based, and Abyssthe makes up 95 percent of the exports).

Every few minutes, we come across another overstuffed souvenir station—tents filled with strange trinkets and gadgets that span everything from antiquated technologies to innovative inventions. Nishi told me Sagittarians like to collect tokens from their travels and often donate them to their city to share their curiosities with their neighbors. But today’s wanderers are hurrying up and down the street with purpose, too preoccupied to pay the stations any attention. The mood is as grim as the leaden sky.

Our pathway weaves around a triangular hotel and past an arrow-shaped archery supply store. Holographic graffiti covers the structures’ surfaces, and my gaze darts in every direction to take it all in. I think I glimpse a girl’s face drawn onto the archery store’s wall, but when I look back we’ve already turned the corner. I’m probably just seeing things, but she looked just like me.
Page 69 is such a perfect taste of the Zodiac series that it’s actually the scene I chose to read at Wandering Star’s launch! At this point, Rho and her friends have just landed on planet Centaurion of the Archer constellation, and they’re getting their first glimpse of House Sagittarius’s curiosities (in the Zodiac Galaxy, each sign represents a different survival skill, and Sagittarius’s is Curiosity). My favorite part of writing these books is the worldbuilding—I love imagining new societies and technologies and terrains and lifestyles and so on. Truth is, beyond being scifi/fantasy, to me the series is also a sociological exploration into a collection of cultures that should be working together but are thwarted by their prejudices and divided by their differences. If it sounds familiar, it should—the communities of our own world often forget that we’re part of a larger whole.
Visit Romina Russell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"The Locker"

Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, numerous short stories, a YA ghost novel and Write On!-a writers’ help book.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Locker, the first of a new series featuring private security operatives Ruth Gonzales and Andy Vaslik, and reported the following:
From page 69:
'Some of them get posted for long periods to the back of beyond. If they cancel the contract because they no longer need it we make a pro-rata refund.’

‘Is this complete?’ Ruth was looking at a list of five alpha-numerics, all in Greater London. They were the previous postcodes for the Hardmans’ addresses.

But Margie dashed her hopes. ‘It would be if we had anything more to enter. As you can see, they’ve moved about a bit since the initial contract. That’s all we’ve got.’ She turned to her monitor and entered the client contract reference. It brought up a record of the Finchley address, with a phone contact number followed by the postcodes on a series of change-of-address panels. The last full address listed was at the house now occupied by Nancy. ‘The contract began in Finchley, as you can see, but they moved and notified us each time of their new postcode, to keep the records active.’ She sniffed. ‘Waste of time if you ask me. No good taking out a Safeguard contract if we don’t know where to find the client.’

‘Well, we knew this time,’ Ruth said. ‘Perhaps they didn’t get on with their neighbours. You don’t keep the addresses, I suppose?’

‘Not beyond the first one, which we need for legal purposes. We try to delete old information as a matter of course, but we must have missed these postcodes. Not that they’ll be much use; they won’t show which house or flat they lived in.’

Ruth took out her cell phone and dialled the phone number listed. Out of service.

‘We run regular data checks to update the client profile and contact details,’ Margie added. ‘But if the client moves away and doesn’t tell us, there’s not much we can do. This one must have told us about the new addresses but not the contact number. I guess we didn’t need it until today.’
I have to say, on balance, this is not a particularly grabbing page. It's one of those leg-work scenes where information is being sought by Ruth Gonzales and Andy Vaslik, the investigators, about the kidnapping of a little girl. They’re at the Cruxys offices, looking at the records for Michael Hardman, the kidnapped girl's father, who took out a Safeguard contract with Cruxys Solutions, which guarantees support for the client’s family in the event of an emergency. He’s soon to become the big puzzle in the story, when they find themselves in a blind alley, because they can't locate him. And his wife, Nancy, isn’t much help. He's evidently important to the kidnappers since he's mentioned in their demand note, but why?

It's actually around this point in the story that Gonzales and Vaslik begin to suspect that all is not what it seems about this particular kidnapping. It’s clearly been well-planned, but for what reason? They have a seemingly ordinary and not well-off family unit living in London, albeit with an elusive father off doing aid work in some remote area of Africa or the Middle East. They have a wife who seems oddly unfazed by her husband’s long absences with little or no regular contact. But that’s all.

So what is it about the Hardmans, and specifically Michael, that has attracted the attention of a criminal gang? And why can’t the investigators find any trace of him?

My only further comment about the story echoes what the investigators begin to discover: that this is no ordinary child-kidnap and the people behind it are anything but shake-down artists. Indeed, they are highly professional and come from outside the UK.

And the title - The Locker - has more than the obvious meaning of a box in which to leave one’s clothes at the gym (which is where the story begins). But that comes later in the story.
Learn more about the book and author at Adrian Magson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Tracers.

The Page 69 Test: Deception.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"The Restaurant Critic’s Wife"

Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children. She is the author of the young adult novel The Tragedy Paper, published by Knopf, which has been translated into eleven foreign languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, published by Quirk Books, which has been translated into seven foreign languages.

She teaches fiction writing at The University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Newsday and The Times-Picayune, among other publications. She also ghost writes a weekly column, and has ghost written two books.

LaBan applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Restaurant Critic's Wife, and reported the following:
From Page 69:
Sam Slides the flowers from Aunt Gladys into the trunk, while I snap Henry’s infant carrier into the car seat base in the backseat.

Sam starts the car and heads down Eighth Street.

“Hey,” he says. “We aren’t far from this new hoagie place everyone is talking about. It’s just a few blocks south of here. Why don’t I swing by, and we can pick up some sandwiches?”

“Sam, we are taking our baby home from the hospital! And I haven’t seen Hazel in four days! Can you stop thinking about food for one minute?”

“We have to eat,” he says, unfazed by my comment. “Come on. It’ll only take a second.”
Page 69 is almost the perfect page to pull out of the book because there are a few different things going on, all of which carry through the entire novel. On this page of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife we are toward the end of Chapter Three. Lila and Sam just had their second child, Henry, and are packing up to leave the hospital. The page begins with Sam on the phone with his Aunt Gladys as he thanks her for sending flowers to them in the hospital. This is a different side of Sam from the one we usually see in the book. Here he is very sweet and patient, neither of which are his most visible traits. Lila finds it annoying because she wants to get going. On the one hand, she generally wants more from Sam. She wants him to stop and think and pay attention, while not being so obsessed with his job. And we see that here, it is his soft side, which I will argue he most definitely has. But it is funny that when it doesn’t suit Lila, when she is in a rush, she doesn’t have patience for it. Sam’s reaction to Aunt Gladys is a window into his family life growing up, and the parental support he did or didn’t have – which we learn about throughout the book.

As Sam and Lila drive away from the hospital, the tiny Henry strapped into the back, Sam suggests stopping to get hoagies at a new place “everyone is talking about.” That is so Sam. He is always thinking about food, always tuned into what is new and hot, and does not want to miss it or ever be the last one to try it. Never mind that they are literally taking their newborn baby home for the first time. In the end, the hoagie place is harder to find than he expected, and he leaves Lila and Henry in the car for longer than he promised he would. The baby gets upset, Lila gets angry, and Sam eventually returns to the car with such a huge bag of sandwiches that it looks like, “enough to feed our whole block,” Lila thinks.

The punchline that we don’t see until pages later is that once they get home and everyone is hungry, Lila is happy that Sam thought to stop for food. All these themes, Sam’s different sides, Lila’s reaction to those sides, Sam’s obsession with food, Lila’s resistance then eventual acceptance and even appreciation of that, are ideas that are thread throughout The Restaurant Critic’s Wife. I had no idea Page 69 was so telling!
Visit Elizabeth LaBan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 18, 2016

"L.A. Math"

James D. Stein is emeritus professor in the Department of Mathematics at California State University, Long Beach.

His books include Cosmic Numbers and How Math Explains the World.

Stein applied the Page 69 Test to his new story collection, L.A. Math: Romance, Crime, and Mathematics in the City of Angels, and reported the following:
Page 69:

L.A. Math: Romance, Crime and Mathematics in the City of Angels is a collection of short stories featuring two principal characters with differing backgrounds who become partners in a firm that does private investigations. The stories are written with a gentle and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor – crows, after all, have no lips. In each story, a math topic that might appear in a Liberal Arts Math course is a key plot point, but it enters so painlessly that someone just reading for enjoyment does not have to “do the math” – while someone who enjoys math or wants to pick up a little math en passant can do so while reading an entertaining short story. Some of the stories are classic detective stories, while some could serve as episodes in a sitcom.” There’s also an appendix that elaborates the mathematical ideas in each story for those who want to pursue them, and which can be skipped by those who don’t.

As one reviewer said, “It's as if Ellery Queen, with the help of P.G. Wodehouse, spiced up a collection of detective tales with a generous handful of practical mathematics.” How cool is that?
Learn more about L.A. Math at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"The Inflatable Woman"

Rachael Ball is a cartoonist and a teacher. The Inflatable Woman, her first graphic novel, was a Guardian Best Graphic Book of 2015.

Ball applied the Page 69 Test to The Inflatable Woman and reported the following:
Page 1 is pretty representative of the meaning of the book:
'Last Night as I was sleeping, I dreamt-marvellous error!- that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making combs and sweet honey from my old failures.' Antonio Machado
The book examines what you do when you think you may have little time left in the world and how you deal with missed opportunities.

Chapter 7, home of page 69, combines several themes of the book: The fantasy of Iris' internet dating conversations with Sailor Buoy, the darkness and magical realism of some of Iris' fears of death, the humour of some of the characters such as Iris' relationship with Granma Suggs who is almost a Mrs Malaprop in that she says kind of inappropriate things at the wrong moment and the dark humour of Dr Magic and his surgical implant options!
Visit Rachael Ball's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 15, 2016

"HEAR"

Robin Epstein is a writer, runner, professor and astronaut* (*in her own mind). Beginning her career as a comic and television writer, Epstein was lucky enough to become head writer and on-air sidekick for a teen girl game show called Clued In, where she was known as "Guru Robin," an embarrassing nickname she's unable to shake. Her young adult novel, God Is In the Pancakes, was an official selection of the 2012 New York State Reading Association (NYSRA) Charlotte Award Master List. She's written for the New York Times, Marie Claire, Glamour, as well as other publications. A contributor to This American Life on NPR, she also writes video games and books for TV shows on the Disney Channel. Epstein attended Princeton University, got her MFA from Columbia University, and teaches at NYU.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, HEAR, and reported the following:
I think page 69 is a perfect micro-read of HEAR. It starts with Brian Black, a distinguished professor of engineering and the great uncle of our heroine, Kass, telling his young charges: “Einstein got it wrong. Even geniuses get things wrong. Remember that.”

Brian explains that Einstein believed the universe was deterministic and that things don’t happen randomly or in ways that can’t be explained. But most physicists, and eventually Einstein himself, came to accept Niels Bohr’s theories that there is, in fact, plenty of mystery to our universe.

Since HEAR is a novel in which the characters grapple with extrasensory perception, a subject that many people refuse to believe as real, I’d like to think that page 69 is a reminder and a wake-up call. Just because we don’t believe or understand something doesn’t mean it can’t exist.
Visit Robin Epstein's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 14, 2016

"The Violinist of Venice"

Alyssa Palombo has published short historical fiction pieces in Black Lantern, Novelletum, and The Great Lakes Review. She is a recent a graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively, as well as a trained classical musician.

Palombo applied the Page 69 Test to The Violinist of Venice, her first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Violinist of Venice happens to be a very short one – it’s the last page before the end of chapter 12. As such, I’ll quote the whole thing here:
I nodded, my head buried against his shoulder. “Yes. But even knowing that cannot change how I feel.”

“Nor I.” I thought I heard him whisper, under his breath, something that sounded like the words miserere nobis, yet I could not be certain. But then his lips were seeking mine, and he was leading me to his bedchamber, and I returned to that world of passion and light and joy that I had recalled in my mind over and over throughout the past few days. I felt the ghost that I had been disappear, and again I knew myself to be real, made of flesh and sensation and feeling.
In chapter 12, Adriana and Vivaldi are seeing one another for the first time since they consummated their love. Vivaldi tries to end it, tries to send Adriana away before any irreversible damage can be done to either of their lives, but she manages to convince him that their love – however impossible or ill-considered – deserves a chance to bring them both whatever happiness it can. Short as this page is, I think it does capture more of the novel than it may first appear: there is a shadow of the conflict that haunts their relationship from start to finish even as this passage shows the love and desire between them. I like to think that someone picking up the book and reading only this page would be sufficiently intrigued to read more!
Visit Alyssa Palombo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"The Geomancer"

Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith are a married couple who have written together for nearly two decades. Their credits include novels such as the Vampire Empire series (Pyr Books) and the Crown & Key trilogy (Del Rey).

They applied the Page 69 Test to their new novel, The Geomancer, and reported the following:
Page 69 in The Geomancer is oddly symptomatic of the book as a whole. We meet our two heroes, Adele and Gareth, as well as several of the supporting characters. The villain, while not present, is mentioned. His ultimate plot is unknown to our heroes at this time, but several mysterious elements of his scheme do come up.
“First we’ve seen vampires able to resist geomancy. Now humans, killed by some unknown force. I don’t think there’s any other reasonable possibility except that Cesare’s Witchfinder is still alive and active. We have to find him and stop him.”
We also encounter the primary fantasy conceit of the story, geomancy, which is the power to interact with the energies of the Earth, and if you are powerful enough, to manipulate those energies for creation or destruction.
Fighting down growing apprehension, she pressed her hands onto the frozen ground. Immediately, she tasted bile. The colors and sounds that wafted from a nearby rift were different, muted. She felt a surge of rage at the foul stench and garish blasts of light. Instead of warm comfort, she was met by raucous pollution. A stain of black sludge undulated in a turbulent sea. With teeth clamped, Adele pushed deeper into the disturbing mire. She couldn’t keep her sense of direction. The anchoring cold air from above was gone. Lances of light seared her skin and her ears throbbed with the beating of her heart.
So there’s a lot happening on page 69. This is symptomatic of the book too. There is a pretty full plot. That’s partly because this is not the first book starring these characters. Adele and Gareth are the protagonists of our Vampire Empire trilogy. This book is set in the same alternate history world and follows that original trilogy with many of the same characters and situations. Therefore The Geomancer has the burden of being a new book to new readers and a continuation for continuing readers. Tricky. Page 69 shows the struggle to fold what came before into what is happening now.

But what pleases us most when glancing page 69 is that no matter how much world-defining plot there is, the core of the story remains the relationship between Adele and Gareth, and how that relationship impacts their world. We see glimpses of that on page 69 through their interaction.
“So you’re doing it no matter what I say?”

She touched Gareth’s hand. “If it gets too dangerous, I’ll withdraw.”

“What if you can’t?”

“Then remove me bodily from here.” She turned to Kasteel and Nadzia. “You two should move far away. Gareth, you too. I don’t know what your limits are.”

“I’ve been burned before.” He stood rooted. “Do what you’re going to do, I’ll be here.”
Adele and Gareth show concern for each other, and despite their concerns, they relent to the other’s strengths. Ultimately, that’s what this book is about.
Learn more about the book and authors at Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 11, 2016

"A Thousand Falling Crows"

Larry D. Sweazy's novels include Escape from Hangtown, See Also Murder: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery, Vengeance at Sundown, The Gila Wars, The Coyote Tracker, The Devil's Bones, The Cougar's Prey, The Badger's Revenge, The Scorpion Trail, and The Rattlesnake Season. He won the WWA (Western Writers of America) Spur award for Best Short Fiction in 2005 and for Best Paperback Original in 2013. He also won the 2011 and 2012 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction for books the Josiah Wolfe series. He was nominated for a Derringer award in 2007 (for the short story "See Also Murder"), and was a finalist in the Best Books of Indiana literary competition in 2010. Sweazy was awarded the Best Books in Indiana in 2011 for The Scorpion Trail. And in 2013, he received the inaugural Elmer Kelton Fiction Book of the Year for The Coyote Tracker, presented by the AWA (Academy of Western Artists). Sweazy has published over sixty nonfiction articles and short stories, which have appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine; The Adventure of the Missing Detective: And 25 of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories!; Boys' Life; Hardboiled; Amazon Shorts, and several other publications and anthologies.

Sweazy applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, A Thousand Falling Crows, and reported the following:
Page 69 finds the reader at the very start of Chapter 10 and my main character, former Texas Ranger Sonny Burton, has found himself in a precarious situation. He has gone home from the hospital after having his right arm amputated with no one there to help him. He lives alone and has run out of food. After deciding that he wanted to continue living, he gets in his truck and drives to the closest grocery store, where he finds himself in the middle of robbery.

The scene demonstrates the change that has taken place in Sonny’s life and his struggle to deal with it. He has no badge, no currency any longer that comes from being a Texas Ranger. He is on his own, just like he was when he encountered Bonnie and Clyde. He came out of that encounter worse for the wear, suffering for the trouble. He has lost his confidence and his courage and his life will never the same.

I do think page shows the essence of Sonny’s struggle that he faces throughout the entire book: Can he be useful as a man, as a human being without his right arm? He has doubt and struggles that we can only imagine. He becomes angry when he can’t be what he once was. If anything, that’s what this book is about. How human beings face adversity and keep on living.
Learn more about the book and author at Larry D. Sweazy's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny (April 2011).

Coffee with a Canine: Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny (April 2013).

The Page 69 Test: The Badger’s Revenge.

The Page 69 Test: The Devil's Bones.

My Book, The Movie: The Devil’s Bones.

The Page 69 Test: The Coyote Tracker.

The Page 69 Test: The Gila Wars.

My Book, The Movie: Escape to Hangtown.

The Page 69 Test: Escape from Hangtown.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Ancestral Machines"

Michael Cobley was born in Leicester, England, and has lived in Glasgow, Scotland, for most of his life. He has studied engineering, been a DJ and has an abiding interest in democratic politics.

His books include the Shadowkings dark fantasy trilogy, and Iron Mosaic, a short story collection. Seeds of Earth and The Orphaned Worlds, books one and two of the Humanity’s Fire sequence, are his first full-length foray into space opera.

Cobley applied the Page 69 Test to Ancestral Machines, the latest Humanity's Fire novel, and reported the following:
Interestingly, page 69 of Ancestral Machines is part of a short chapter involving Lt Samantha Brock and the Construct drone Rensik Estemil, as they pore over survey data from a destroyed world. It provides some context for the incursion of the Warcage system, and looks a little into Brock's own background. Her parents came from Tygra, a hidden Human colony world from the earlier Humanity's Fire trilogy, just a slight connection to that story, just as Rensik Estemil played a part in the trilogy under the name Reski Emantes. It's not at all necessary for readers to have read the preceding trilogy - these connections are just minor skeins stitched in for my own amusement, and as a little side-wink for those readers who really get into the detail of it all.

Does page 69 represent the rest of the book? It's not a fast-paced, energetic moment, while there is much of that throughout the book, but it provides some reflection, some necessary information, hints and nuances which reading further on will definitely expand upon.
Visit Michael Cobley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 8, 2016

"Forty Thieves"

Thomas Perry's novels include the Jane Whitefield series (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman, The Face Changers, Blood Money, Runner, Poison Flower, and A String of Beads), Death Benefits, Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel, and The Butcher's Boy, which won the prestigious Edgar Award.

Perry applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Forty Thieves, and reported the following:
Forty Thieves is marked by a series of action sequences as private detectives Sid and Ronnie Abel work their way into a year-old unsolved murder. Page 69 takes place right after a sequence in which they noticed two people in a car had been watching them from a distance. The people then destroyed their car windshield with rifle fire and escaped. Now an LAPD detective is interviewing them. What were they investigating at a deserted construction site on the northern edge of the county at night?

Ronnie’s answer is their case: “The body of a man named James Ballantine was found stuck in a storm sewer under a street in North Hollywood around then. There was no easy way for him to have gotten there, because the drains along the streets are designed not to let anything big, like a body, get into the system. So it had to be an open drain somewhere upstream.” They were visiting upstream sites where the drains had been opened and extended for new construction a year ago.

The rest of the conversation gives us a chance to get to know Sid and Ronnie. When the detective asks them whether they left the LAPD with good records, we learn they did, and that they still have many friends on the force. When the detective asks if they’ve ever caught and convicted even one murderer, Sid only says “Some.” Ronnie explains that Sid doesn’t like to keep score. When the detective starts to gloat, she adds, “But I do. Since we left the LAPD we’ve had twenty-one homicide convictions...”

I think page 69 does give a reader a taste of the mystery and the protagonists, and propels the plot forward a bit, so I’m satisfied with it. I hope readers will be too.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"Karma’s a Killer"

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Weber loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. The third book in her series, Karma's a Killer, is out this month from Midnight Ink.

Weber and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, the author spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

Weber applied the Page 69 Test to Karma's a Killer and reported the following:
From page 69:
I pressed through the plastic sheeting covering the doorway and entered the living room. As Michael had promised, the living room and upstairs bedroom were mainly untouched by the construction. If you didn’t count the continual layer of dust that somehow seeped through the plastic or the Jenga-like piles of boxes, furniture, towels, and kitchen appliances stacked in every available space.

I pulled a bottle of Merlot from the wine rack, filled a semiclean glass with liquid tranquilizer, and chugged it down. Eight ounces of twelve-percent alcohol hit my stomach at the same time, leaving me warm and deliciously woozy. Another pour and two swallows later, I headed upstairs.

Michael snored softly on one side of the bed; Bella snored loudly on the other. I carefully wove my body between them, relishing their warmth and wondering, not for the first time, what I’d done to be lucky enough to deserve them. I laced my fingers through Michael’s, then rolled my back to him and wrapped my arms and legs around Bella. She groaned and leaned into my touch.

I lay there for at least a hundred years, trying not to think about Dharma, breathing in Bella’s sweet scent, and willing myself to fall asleep. I could only hope that sleep would allow my spirit to return to its source, as The Yoga Sutras teach, so that maybe, just maybe, I could find peace.
Page 69 brings us to the end of a scene in Karma’s a Killer that is both similar and dissimilar to the rest of the story. My protagonist, Kate, has just learned that her mother, Dharma—who abandoned her thirty years ago—is back in Seattle and wants to reconcile. Kate doesn’t yet know that Dharma is about to be arrested for murder.

This scene shows Kate’s internal struggles, which are an important part of the book, but it doesn’t show her normal self-deprecating humor or the suspense of the story. The most important things missing are her interactions with German shepherd, Bella, boyfriend, Michael, and friend Rene, the other primary characters in the series.
Visit Tracy Weber's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Coffee with a Canine: Tracy Weber and Tasha.

The Page 69 Test: Murder Strikes a Pose.

The Page 69 Test: A Killer Retreat.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"Seized"

Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.

Heiter applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Seized, and reported the following:
Seized is the third novel in my Profiler series featuring FBI profiler Evelyn Baine. In Seized, Evelyn finds herself on the wrong side of a hostage situation – and in the middle of an emerging terrorist threat.

Here’s what happens on page 69, when Evelyn is inside the cult full of survivalists, being led through the compound for the first time:
“Keep moving,” Rolfe said instead of answering her question, and she had to increase her pace to keep up with his longer stride.

She followed him back down the dim hallway, toward the room where she and Jen had seen the supplies and weapon lockboxes. As he stopped in the doorway, she discovered that the room was now filled with cultists.

There were about twenty of them, and they were all men. Evelyn did a double take, looking for any women or children, but saw none. A cult without women or kids was unusual. And although survivalists could be loners, they were equally likely to prepare a bunker for an entire family. Did this cult not have any families or were they somewhere else?

The men ranged in age, but otherwise they looked the same to her. They were all white, their eyes glued to Ward Butler, who stood facing them, radiating power.

There was plenty of camouflage in the room, and a lot of weaponry, casually slung over shoulders. Everything from AK-47s to shotguns to bows and arrows. Most of the men wore thick facial hair and had rough, weathered skin and angry expressions.

The anger seemed to intensify as Ward Butler announced, “Here she is, our own personal symbol of government tyranny who thought it was her right to enter uninvited into our refuge.”

Twenty faces sung her way, and all that fury directed solely at her made Evelyn instinctively take a step backward.

“Kill her,” someone shouted and, as one, the group surged toward the doorway. Toward her.
At this point in the book, Evelyn is stuck inside the cult alone, unsure exactly what has happened to fellow agent Jen Martinez, who brought her here. She’s a biracial federal agent in a room full of anti-federalist, white supremacists, so her life is already in danger. Things get worse as she begins to suspect Jen Martinez was right – this is more than a simple cult hiding out in the remote Montana wilderness. This group is a threat – and if Evelyn doesn’t find a way to get a warning to the FBI agents surrounding the compound, the group may unleash a deadly attack.
To learn more about Seized, read chapter one, and watch the book trailer, visit Elizabeth Heiter's website.

My Book, The Movie: Vanished.

The Page 69 Test: Vanished.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 3, 2016

"Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator"

Emmy-nominated screenwriter Jen Klein is the author of the debut novel Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator as well as the upcoming Shuffle, Repeat (May, 2016 from Random House). She lives in Los Angeles with a menagerie of boys and animals, all of whom are unruly and ill-behaved. Klein is currently a writer on the hit television show Grey’s Anatomy.

Klein applied the Page 69 Test to Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator, and reported the following:
From Page 69:
Okay, so Sky was messing with me. I decided to play along, because maybe, at long last, this was a way to glimpse who he really was. “Okay, enlighten me. How do you get a succubus to stop screwing your guy?”

“Easy,” said Sky. “Kill her.”

“Excuse me?” I glanced around in case a passerby had heard his plan for paranormal murder.

“You know, make her dead.”

“I got that. I just didn’t—“

“Direct sunlight burns them. Like vampires.”

My hands flung themselves into the air. “That’s it. I’m out of here!” I marched toward my car, fuming. Just my luck that the first guy I’d been attracted to in… well, maybe in forever… was this guy. And I still wasn’t entirely sure that I wasn’t the one he wanted to make dead.
Page 69 of Jillian Cade falls within chapter 7, when Jillian has taken on a case that appears to be about a missing person. However, she is being followed/annoyed/“helped” by Sky Ramsey, who insists the missing person has been taken by a succubus. This page lets the readers get a glimpse of Jillian and Sky’s banter, as well as their different points of view about the case.
Visit Jen Klein's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 1, 2016

"Positive"

David Wellington is an author of horror, fantasy, and thriller novels. His zombie novels Monster Island, Monster Nation and Monster Planet form a complete trilogy. He has also written a series of vampire novels including Thirteen Bullets, Ninety-Nine Coffins, Vampire Zero, Twenty-Three Hours, and 32 Fangs. His werewolf series comprises Frostbite and Overwinter.

In 2013 Wellington introduced Afghanistan veteran Jim Chapel in the novel, Chimera, which was later followed by The Hydra Protocol. The new Jim Chapel novel, The Cyclops Initiative, is out early this month.

Wellington applied the Page 69 Test to 2015's Positive, and reported the following:
You know, I love the Page 69 Test, I really do. Yet it feels like every time I do it, that particular page just gives you nothing about the book as a whole.

Positive is about zombies, it’s about road pirates terrorizing the post-apocalyptic highways, and most of all it’s about hope—about the moment after the end of the world when we start dusting ourselves off and rebuilding, when civilization starts to return. A process that is in turns bloody, terrifying, and thrilling.

Page 69 here is about none of those things, of course. It takes place immediately after a truly nasty zombie attack. It comes right before the love story of the book jumps into high gear. But this particular page is about some people in a car, very frightened people who just want to get to a place of safety. It’s about driving through a New Jersey that has been half reclaimed by nature and half one gigantic chemical spill.

It’s a big book. There’s a lot of action in it, a lot of surprises. A lot of touching emotional moments. And some pretty nasty stuff. For instance, whatever you do, don’t read page 120. Even I get queasy when I read that page.
Learn more about the book and author at David Wellington's website.

The Page 69 Test: Chimera.

The Page 69 Test: The Hydra Protocol.

--Marshal Zeringue