Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"A Country Called Home"

Kim Barnes' books include the novel Finding Caruso and two memoirs, In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country—a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize—and Hungry for the World.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Country Called Home, and reported the following:
What a relief to turn to p. 69 of A Country Called Home and find that something is actually happening. And what is happening is one of my favorite scenes from the novel: Helen is giving birth to Elise--not in a hospital, but in a tent in the middle of nowhere.

It is 1960, and Helen and her new husband Thomas Deracotte have moved from Connecticut to Idaho in search of the "good life." They are part of the back-to-the-land movement that stoked many an eastern idealist's journey west. Helen is a young educated woman of privilege; her husband Thomas is a newly-minted physician with little real-world experience. Both are naive and idealistic, but for different reasons...and with tragically different outcomes. Manny is the young hired hand who knows more than Helen and Thomas ever will about what it means to live off the land. By the time the book ends, all three will have become entwined in a story of loss and love.

What I like about this scene is that it provides both drama and a touch of humor. Things could go right, or things could go terribly wrong. In stories that observe human attempts at a utopian existence, this is the constant tension. But isn't that tension inherent in any story whose characters we truly care about?

From p. 69 of A Country Called Home:

“You’re doing fine, Helen. You just do what I tell you, and we’ll be fine.” [Deracotte] stepped out long enough to run a few yards back and call for Manny to build a fire, bring water. By the time he returned, the moan had started again, deep in her chest. She did not blink but kept her eyes on his, and he could not look away. Her fingers wrapped his wrist, and he was surprised by the strength of her grip.

He heard kindling being split, the striking of a match. Helen’s groan became a growl, loud and building to a pitch that was alarmingly similar to the sounds that accompanied their lovemaking. Deracotte leaned over her, as though he might buffer the noise with his chest.

“Hush,” he said. “Manny will hear you.”

The bite came so unexpectedly and sank so deep that he yelped. She had taken him by the flesh of his forearm.

“For God’s sakes, Helen!” He pulled away and saw the crescents pool with blood.

Helen fell back, eyes closed, breathing fast and shallow. Deracotte stepped out to see Manny filling the few pots, balancing them atop the rocks. Deracotte stripped to his waist and began scrubbing his arms, including the bite Helen had given him, which would need to be watched for infection. He backed his way into the tent, hands held high and dripping, never saying a word to Manny, whose eyes seemed filled with a kind of sad fear that reflected Deracotte’s own growing distress.

“Thomas, Thomas, Thomas.” Helen wasn’t looking at him but at a corner where the tent poles came together. “Thomas, Thomas, Thomas.” She brought her head forward, chin to chest, and raised her knees. The sound was no longer a wail but a resonant drone in the back of her throat.

“Are you pushing? Helen? Wait.” He worked his way between her legs, wary, now, of the proximity of her teeth. He saw that the bag of waters had broken, and, to his astonishment, that the baby was crowning, the dark whorl of hair showing itself. It was happening too fast.
Read an excerpt from A Country Called Home, and learn more about the novel at the Knopf website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 29, 2008

"The Dart League King"

Keith Lee Morris is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Clemson University. His short stories have been published in A Public Space, Southern Review, Ninth Letter, StoryQuarterly, New England Review, The Sun, and the Georgia Review, among other publications. The University of Nevada published his first two books: The Greyhound Gods (2003) and The Best Seats in the House (2004).

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, The Dart League King, and reported the following:
Well, there are five central characters, and I’d say page 69 is representative of at least one of them, Kelly Ashton. She’s a small-town heartthrob who’s been put out of commission temporarily by the birth of her daughter, Hayley. She’s now anxious to get back in the game, though—the “game” being to find a way to get the hell out of her Idaho hometown—and tonight that means preparing for a date with Tristan Mackey, an old flame who’s just arrived back home after finishing college. Tristan looks pretty good on paper but is actually big, big trouble, as the reader already knows by this point. The shifting weather between the two characters is central to the novel’s development. There’s also the perpetual annoyance and worry caused by Kelly’s alcoholic mother. Here’s Kelly giving her mother instructions before she leaves for the evening, from p. 69:

Did she know when bedtime was, would she make sure to take Hayley out of the playpen in no longer than half an hour, tops, and was she going to stop after this beer, mother, this one, not the next one and not the one after that, all right she didn’t have time to argue, she would call to check on Hayley soon. She opened the apartment door and stepped out onto the landing in the warm summer dusk and she took a deep breath and thought not in our stars but in ourselves, because there was still time and opportunity to be something bigger than she could be in Garnet Lake, Idaho. She had the looks and brains to make it happen.

Kelly is going to meet Tristan at the 321 Club, where he’s involved in his weekly dart league match. Almost the entire book takes place at the 321, and by the bottom of the page the reader returns there, where Kelly encounters another old flame, the titular hero, the dart league king, the one and only Russell Harmon. Upon seeing Russell for the first time on this particular night, which is the first night she’s seen him in a long time, she thinks of five adjectives to describe him—cheerful, good, sweet, silly, and stupid—all of which Russell lives up to at one point or another in the book. So that part is representative, too. And there’s the word “beer” on p. 69, which comes up a lot. The words “dart match.” “Idaho.” “Disappointment.” “Fuck.” All of these words come up a lot. The overuse of that last one has already gotten me banned from a bookstore in Spokane, Washington.

So yeah, I’d say page 69 is at least suggestive, if not entirely representative, of the whole on several counts.
Read an excerpt from The Dart League King, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Genius and Heroin"

Michael Largo is the author of three novels, the Bram Stoker Award-winning Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die, and last year's The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages, and reported the following:
On top position of page 69: there’s a typically curious sidebar of the kind you'll find included throughout the entire 369 page book—this one concerns creativity and self-destruction, revealing the fate, and suicide rate of writers who use too many I’s in their work, under a subheading: “Me, Myself, and I Writers.” (So start counting the pronouns in your writing to predict your longevity!) Taking bottom position on page 69, there’s a bio about the original fast and furious American writer Stephen Crane, and the making of his most famous book, The Red Badge of Courage. His first self-published novel Maggie, about prostitution, flopped, but Stephen was a passionate and obsessed man, eventually marrying the madam of a bordello, which, by the way, had one of the greatest bordello names in whore house history, Hotel de Dream. I am always interested in some telling details to learn what habits foretold of a “genius’” early demise. In Crane’s case, he could never stay put, and was a notoriously poor speller, saying he had no time to learn. He was right--with fountain pen to paper to the end, Crane was dead at age 28. In some ways his obsession, and what made Crane brilliant, is the same thing that killed him. In Genius and Heroin I hoped to make a reference guide that explores the paradox of an artist’s angst, that which prompts both inspiration and torment. Is personal agony a necessary component to being publicly immortalized? That’s some of what you'll get when you open to page 69—I hope you do.
Learn more about the book and author at Michael Largo's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 26, 2008

"The Heretic Queen"

Michelle Moran is the author of the national bestselling novel Nefertiti.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Heretic Queen, and reported the following:
"I looked beyond the sycamore groves to the crests of dunes that vaulted one beyond the other. If the wind, which had only the power of breath, could make a hill, then surely Woserit could make a princess into a queen."

My novel, The Heretic Queen, is the story of an orphan's transformation from an unwanted princess whose parents have died to a powerful queen of Ramesses the Great. The idea for writing the book began on a trip to Egypt where I visited Nefertari's magnificent tomb. At one time, visiting her tomb was practically free, but today, a trip underground to see one of the most magnificent places on earth can cost upwards of five thousand dollars (yes, you read that right). If you want to share the cost and go with a group, the cost lowers to the bargain-basement price of about three thousand. As a guide told us of the phenomenal price, I looked at my husband, and he looked at me. We had flown more than seven thousand miles, suffered the indignities of having to wear the same clothes for three days because of lost luggage… and really, what were the possibilities of our ever returning to Egypt again? There was only one choice. We paid the outrageous price, and I have never forgotten the experience.

While breathing in some of the most expensive air in the world (I figured it was about $20 a gulp), I saw a tomb that wasn’t just fit for a queen, but a goddess. In fact, Nefertari was only one of two (possibly three) queens ever deified in her lifetime, and as I gazed at the vibrant images on her tomb, I knew that this wasn’t just any woman, but a woman who had been loved fiercely when she was alive. Because I am a sucker for romances, particularly if those romances actually happened, I immediately wanted to know more about Nefertari and Ramesses the Great. So my next stop was the Hall of Mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There, resting beneath the heavy glass, was the great Pharaoh himself. For a ninety-something year old man, he didn’t look too bad. His short red hair was combed back neatly and his face seemed strangely peaceful. I tried to imagine him as he’d been when he was young – strong, athletic, frighteningly rash and incredibly romantic. Buildings and poetry remain today as testaments to Ramesses’s softer side, and in one of Ramesses’s more famous poems he calls Nefertari “the one for whom the sun shines.” His poetry to her can be found from Luxor to Abu Simbel, and it was my visit to Abu Simbel (where Ramesses built a temple for Nefertari) where I finally decided that I had to tell their story.
Read an excerpt from The Heretic Queen, and learn more about the book and author at Michelle Moran's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"The Mirror’s Edge"

Steven Sidor is the author of the acclaimed novels Skin River and Bone Factory.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, The Mirror’s Edge, and reported the following:
I'm different. Give me my chaos. What I know best.

The world isn't about you.

It isn't about being about anything.

Jase Deering, a freelance journalist, offers that self-assessment on Page 69 of The Mirror's Edge. I can't think of a better summing up of Jase's attitude early on. It also provides a glimpse into his tendency for reckless obsession. Jase thrives on digging into the unknown. He's a constant seeker. Though he doesn't always know exactly what he's looking for. Neither does he take into account the price of his journey. As he investigates the year-old cold case of the kidnapping of twin toddlers, what first appears to be an unsolved family tragedy turns into something darker and much, much stranger.

Jase isn't alone in this scene.

He's outside the Chicago Art Institute, eating gelato with his lover, Robyn Matchfrost. They're both reacting to the aftermath of a disastrous interview with the mother of the missing boys. It's a moment of fracture.

And it's also a point of divergence.

Robyn, who is legally blind and something of a recluse, wants to retreat into the safety of their shared private life. The disturbing encounter with the boys' mother has her on high alert.

Superstitious lady. The minute she meets resistance, the scenery thickens with portents. Chalk it up to her deep New England ancestry, this daughter of a Daughter of the American Revolution; her highbred anxieties are stitched into the bone. Madly organized, logical tending toward aloof, and a stickler for details – but still she's searching the skies for witches. Everything under the sun imbued with meaning, our pilgrim souls suffering constant perils, the universe divided into black and white. She loves the idea of order and the inherent drama when order is upset. She loves to control.

Jase resists.

Robyn throws a sexual temptation his way.

"I want to kick off these heels and listen to my Piaf records. Get a foot massage in front of the fireplace. How does that sound? I'll wear the mink bikini you bought in San Francisco."

But Jase sends Robyn home by herself as he delves deeper into the mystery. His obsession buys them two tickets to an occult underworld they never could have imagined. And from which they might never escape.

For a random sample of the book, it's telling.
Read an excerpt from The Mirror’s Edge, and learn more about the book and author at Steven Sidor's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"The Silver Linings Playbook"

Matthew Quick floated down the Peruvian Amazon and formed ‘The Bardbarians’ (a two-man literary circle), backpacked around Southern Africa, hiked to the bottom of a snowy Grand Canyon, soul-searched, and earned his Creative Writing M.F.A. through Goddard College.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Silver Linings Playbook, his debut novel, and reported the following:
Pat Peoples believes his life is a movie produced by God, and—if Pat improves his character enough—his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife.

After being encouraged by his therapist to make new friends, my protagonist asks the local depressed widow—who has been stalking him—out to dinner. On page 69 of TSLP Pat is at a diner with widow Tiffany.

Pat looks for the silver lining in any given situation, although for much of the novel he is stuck in a state of denial that often keeps him from engaging appropriately with his present reality. Instead of being in the moment, Pat obsesses over his estranged wife.

In the diner scene, Pat worries whether he has enough money in his pocket to buy dinner for both Tiffany and himself. He worries that he won’t have enough dollars left over for a generous tip and remembers fights with his ex-wife, who encouraged tipping generously. Because he is a changed man, because he wants to win his wife back, Pat decides that he will not order a traditional dinner, but the cheapest thing on the menu—a bowl of raisin bran—just so he will be able to leave a big tip.

The entire page is basically an internal monologue that is interrupted when the waitress says, ‘Sir?’

And this is Pat Peoples’ curse: because he is always obsessing about his past, he can never be fully in the present. While Pat’s wife has been estranged from him for a very long time, his new friend—his ticket to the here and now—is sitting right across the table, just waiting to be discovered.
Read an excerpt from The Silver Linings Playbook, and learn more about the novel and author at Matthew Quick's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"The Killing Circle"

Andrew Pyper is the author of the novels Lost Girls (which was a New York Times and Globe and Mail Notable Book of the Year), The Wildfire Season, and The Trade Mission: A Novel of Psychological Terror, as well as Kiss Me, a collection of stories.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Killing Circle, and reported the following:
The Killing Circle is a thriller about writing. Yes, you read that right. A literal literary thriller.

Patrick Rush is a widower, single dad, and journalist recently demoted to the “universal newspaper grease trap”: TV critic. But what Patrick has always secretly yearned for is to write a novel. Trouble is, he doesn’t think his own life is worthy of literary translation, and he hasn’t the imagination (or so he thinks) to come up with a story on his own. So he does what half the literate world seems to be doing lately: he joins a writing circle. There, he encounters a young woman, Angela, who reads an unsettling – and possibly true? – tale from her “journal,” the story of a little orphan girl being pursued by a “Terrible Man Who Does Terrible Things.” A shadowy figure she names the Sandman. It’s a story that, much later, Patrick ends up stealing. A crime he will come to regret…and perhaps not survive.

Page 69 of The Killing Circle is a sample from Angela’s journal, a horrific turn in the little girl’s narrative (which may just be Angela’s autobiography) that suggests the Sandman is more real than fictional. It’s a part of a story within the larger story, in other words. In fact, The Killing Circle can be seen as a story within a story within a story. And it’s left something of a mystery as to whether Angela, or Patrick, or a guy called “Andrew Pyper” wrote it. You’ll have to decide its authorship for yourself.
Learn more about the author and The Killing Circle--and watch some video trailers--at Andrew Pyper's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Stalking the Vampire"

Mike Resnick has won five Hugos and been nominated for twenty-six more.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, Stalking the Vampire, and reported the following:
In Stalking the Vampire, my detective hero's partner, a former white hunter who is now in her 60s, was bitten by her visiting nephew, and it falls to John Justin Mallory, the detective, to find both the nephew and the vampire who started the whole thing.

He gets word that the nephew may be in the City Morgue, and he goes there. It's All Hallows Eve, and all the ghosts and ghouls of this Manhattan are out celebrating. The morgue is filled with bodies, all of them dead, most of them not permanently so. Death may be messy, but in Mallory's Manhattan, it is not necessarily a stationary condition.

In the scene on Page 69, Mallory has come upon a zombie who doesn't really want to stay in the Tomb of the Unknown Policeman, and the demands he makes before he's willing to relent.

Page 69:

“That’s the whole point of the Tomb of the Unknown Policeman,” explained the official.

“But I’m not unknown! I’m Clarence Weatherbee IV, and I want them respecting me, not some poor slob who got shot breaking up a card game in the City Council’s executive bathroom.”

“I don’t think you get the idea at all,” said the official in frustrated tones.

“Of course I get it,” snapped Clarence. “That’s why I climbed out and ran away.”

“Look, Clarence, we’re consecrating the ground, we’re giving you an eternal flame, we’re…”

“I heard all that. The answer is no.”

“Is there no way you’ll reconsider?” asked the official.

Clarence narrowed his eyes in thought for a moment. “Okay,” he said at last. “Here’s a list of my non-negotiable demands.”

“I’m listening.”

“Listening only counts in horseshoes. Pull out your pen and write this down.”

“All right,” said the official, producing a pen and a small notebook.

“I like marigolds. There have to be marigolds around the tomb every day of the year.”

“But they’re not in bloom year-round.”

“I don’t care where you get ’em from. I’ve got to have them. Now, do I continue, or are we through already?”

“We’ll find them, even if we have to force them in the conservatory. What’s next?”

“I want a chapter of my favorite book to be read in front of the tomb every day at high noon.”

“Easily done,” said the official. “Something by Whitman, I’m guessing? Or perhaps Thoreau or Emerson?”

“I don’t know who wrote it, but there’s a copy of it in my desk back at the office.”

“And the title?”

Meter Maids in Bondage.”
Stalking the Vampire is an urban fantasy, a sequel to Stalking the Unicorn, which was reprinted at the same time (August, 2008) by Pyr Books.

Learn more about the author and his work at Mike Resnick's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Southern Poison"

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, Sweet Home Carolina, and Southern Fatality.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Southern Poison, and reported the following:
Since I did the page 69 test for Southern Fatality, first in the Jersey Barnes mystery series, figured I'd stick with that one again for Southern Poison, which was just released. What's so much fun about writing a series is the opportunity to delve deeper into the thoughts and lives of the characters so the reader can really get to know them. Of course, this series remains all about action and entertainment, but page 69 demonstrates that Jersey—while tough and savvy—has the same family troubles and romantic issues as every other woman.

If you read Southern Fatality, you've already been introduced to Duke Oxendine, a career military man and Lumbee Indian who, now retired, co-owns a pub with Jersey called The Block. It's located on the Cape Fear River and Jersey lives in an apartment on the second floor of the historic building. Jersey and Ox first met as teens in high school, right after a move dumped him in a brand new town. Jersey taught him the eleventh-grade ropes and he taught her how to box. The two became inseparable best friends and later joined the Marines together, not realizing they'd be abruptly split up two weeks later.

They remained in touch, though, and reunited when Ox took his 20-year retirement from the military and was unceremoniously dumped by his wife, Louise. (She'd waited until then, Ox later realized, so she'd be entitled to half his pension.)

I won't give you a spoiler, but suffice it to say that the romantic sparks have finally ignited between Ox and Jersey. And then, page 69 happens.

Page 69 excerpt:

My abdominal muscles relaxed and I realized I'd been holding my breath. "That's good, right? If she marries her live-in, you won't have to pay alimony any longer."

His eyes held mine for so long that I could see the pupils dilate and constrict as they focused. "She flew here because she had to see me. To be sure."

My stomach contracted again. "To be sure that she is completely over you?"


I wrapped my mind around his single word answer and thought about the laws of reciprocity. "And, you? Do you need to find out if you're completely over her?"

Ruby sashayed by our table to see if we wanted anything. Neither of us did. Sensing the conversation to be private, she kept moving.

"Jersey, the other day with you was incredible and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it—and you—since. What we might be, if we decide we want to be together. But I can't just turn Louise away."

Yes you can, I thought. She dumped you and broke your heart.

"We had a lot of good years together and she's the mother of my daughter."

A daughter who will be college-bound in a few more years.

"We don't talk about it, you and I," he continued, "but we both know that we love each other. We've been tight since high school and our relationship is something special, something magical. I'd do anything in the world for you."

Apparently not anything, since you're letting Louise barrel her way back into your life, I mused.

"Say something Jersey. Say anything. Talk to me."

I breathed deep and corralled my emotions into a small place where I hoped they'd stay dormant. "There's nothing to say, Ox. You have to do what's right for you. Lindsey is welcome to stay here. And as for me, I'm off to have a chat with Lady Lizzy."

"Want me to ride along with—"

"No, thanks," I interrupted. "I'm all set."

I left before he could protest, thinking that the dynamics of our relationship were irreversibly damaged. Ox and I were no longer tuned to the same frequency. Being around him suddenly felt clumsy and awkward. I didn't even bother to ask what information he had planned to trade with Lady Lizzy, to get her to tell all about her calendar. I had something of my own to use and didn't need his help. Or maybe I did need it, but I damn sure wasn't going to ask for it.
Read an excerpt from Southern Poison, and learn more about the author and her work at T. Lynn Ocean's website.

The Page 69 Test: Southern Fatality.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Vi Agra Falls"

Mary Daheim's many books include twenty novels in her Emma Lord series and twenty-four titles in her Bed-and-Breakfast series.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the latest Bed-and-Breakfast mystery, Vi Agra Falls, and reported the following:
Amazingly, P. 69 of Vi Agra Falls is the first page of a new chapter and focuses on Judith Flynn's nemesis, Vivian who was once married to Joe Flynn, Judith's husband. Vivian--or Herself as she's (very) commonly known--has discovered a body hanging from a tree in her back yard. The narrative concerns not only a whodunit, but a whoisit because Vivian--and almost everyone else in the neighborhood--doesn't recognize the victim. P. 69 also alludes to Judith's propensity for finding dead bodies both at home and abroad. The interaction between Joe and the two women he married gives the reader a sense of the tension between this triangle. What isn't mentioned, however, is that only hours before the murder, Vivian has informed the rest of the neighbors in the quiet cul-de-sac that she intends to build a high-rise condo. Maybe I cheated a bit, but I asked a long-time fan of the B&B series to take a look at P. 69 and this is her response: "What could be more intriguing than stunned disbelief, confusion, a dead body, your spouse's unconscious ex-wife and a skeptical 911 operator all on one page?"
Browse inside Vi Agra Falls, and learn more about the book and author at Mary Daheim's website. Daheim has been an Agatha Award nominee, winner of the 2000 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Achievement Award, and her mysteries regularly make the USA Today bestseller list and the New York Times top thirty.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Angel’s Tip"

A former deputy district attorney in Portland, Oregon, Alafair Burke now teaches criminal law at Hofstra Law School and lives in New York City. She is the author of the Samantha Kincaid series—which includes the novels Judgment Calls, Missing Justice, and Close Case—and Dead Connection, her first thriller featuring Ellie Hatcher.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the new Ellie Hatcher thriller, Angel’s Tip, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Angel’s Tip reads “Part II/ Dream Witness.” That tells you that Angel’s Tip is a book with parts. The next page with text, however, contains the following:

The distance between the Thirteenth Precinct and the Meatpacking District was almost exactly two miles, but culturally, the neighborhoods were a globe apart. The short drive from the east twenty-something blocks of Manhattan to the far west teens unveiled a dramatic transformation from the sterile and generic high rises of Stuyvesant Town to what was currently the city’s hottest neighborhood.

The key to the Meatpacking District’s current popularity rested in its unique blend of glamour and grit. All of the upscale requirements were here – high-end boutiques, trendy clubs with signature cocktails, expensive restaurants with tiny portions piled into aesthetically pleasing towers. But they existed in loft-like, pared down spaces that still had the feel – if not the actual structure – of rehabbed warehouses. The streets outside were narrow, many still cobblestone, adding to the sense of an old neighborhood uncovered, dusted off, and polished by its latest visitor.

And, of course, there was the name. Not SoHo. Not Tribeca. Not NoLita. Nothing cutesy, crisp, or clean. This was the Meatpacking District, and, lest you forget it, the distinctly bloody odor emanating from the remaining butchers and beef wholesalers was there to remind you: This was a neighborhood with substance, history, and dirt beneath its blue-collar fingernails. Just ask the Appletini-sipping super-model taking a load off her Manolo Blahniks on the stool next to yours.

Angel’s Tip is my fifth novel, but only the second to be set in New York City and to feature NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher. I write about crime in contemporary New York City, not in the days of Bernie Goetz or David Berkowitz. And I write not about Brooklyn or the Bronx, but about Manhattan.

Given those choices, the New York setting of the Ellie Hatcher series actually made plotting a thriller more difficult than in my Portland-based Samantha Kincaid series. When Manhattan is famous for being safe, how does a writer create danger on the page? In Angel’s Tip, I’ve taken this now-tourist-friendly city’s famously low crime rate and used it to my advantage. In the opening pages of the book, Indiana college student Chelsea Hart chooses to remain alone in the VIP lounge of a club in the Meatpacking District precisely because she’s in the Big Apple. The club is over-the-top luxurious. Fantasy. Safe. But when she leaves at four in the morning without her friends, everything changes.

Page 69 of Angel’s Tip (or at least, the next consecutive page with text) hopefully conveys that same contradiction: new but old, gentrified but gritty, safe but at risk. If nothing else, it was a fun page to write.
Read an excerpt from Angel’s Tip, and learn more about the book and author at Alafair Burke's website, Facebook page, MySpace page, and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Connection.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 13, 2008


JT Ellison is Murderati's Friday columnist, a short story writer, and a novelist.

Last year she applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, All the Pretty Girls. Now she has applied the Page 69 Test to the sequel, 14, and reported the following:
Page 69 of 14 gives the reader a chance to see the investigation of the Snow White Killer from the perspective of the Nashville police. The major clues in the investigation are laid out, theories bandied about. Without the hard DNA evidence, they don’t know if they’re dealing with a copycat or the original Snow White Killer, showing this isn’t a cut and dried case. All four detectives working the case are present in the scene as well, showing their ability to work as a team, they flesh out suppositions and compare research. I hope it does entice the reader to keep reading, and definitely think it’s indicative of the book itself.

Taylor nodded in agreement. “Well, now we have the makeup of this cream found on their temples. Arnica, frankincense and myrrh? What’s up with that?”

“I think we’re dealing with a religious nut. Look at the biblical aspects – the gifts of the three wise men were gold, frankincense and myrrh. They also used myrrh oil in Roman times to cover up the smell of dead bodies. I looked up the modern uses – perfume, anti-inflammatory, homeopathic cholesterol lowering agents ... there’s tons of uses and tons of availability. But the most common use is in churches and synagogues. It just makes more sense that this has some sort of significance to the killer. And the placement, on their temples, makes it seem like he’s anointing them.”

“Lincoln’s right, there might be a religious component to all of this. Toss that into the mix.”

Marcus played with one of his chips. “Maybe he stopped killing back then because he got called to God. You know, took the opposite road, tried to repent. Hell, he might have become a priest or something. And then he just couldn’t stand it, broke free and started killing again.”

They were all silent for a moment, thinking about those implications.

“I wish we had the DNA comparison. That would at least tell us definitively if we are dealing with the same man or a copycat,” Fitz said.
Read an excerpt from 14, and learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and MySpace page.

Watch the video trailer for 14.

The Page 69 Test: All the Pretty Girls.

The Page 99 Test: 14.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"City Dog"

Alison Pace is the author of the novels If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend, Pug Hill, Through Thick and Thin, and City Dog. Her non-fiction essays have appeared in several anthologies including Howl: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the newly released City Dog and reported the following:
I just applied the page 69 test to City Dog and I think page 69 is representative of one important theme of the book, which is the fact that after over ten years of not accomplishing quite what she set out to do, Amy Dodge, one of the narrators of City Dog (City Dog has three narrators: Amy, a children's book writer in New York, her dog Carlie, and one of her fictional characters, Robert Maguire) has the feeling that she is being erased from her life. Page 69 gets right at that in a scene in which Amy is being recast as the sidekick on a television show starring her dog (yes, really). Amy touches right on this feeling of inconsequentiality, as she wonders, "Is there nothing I can do to stop it? Again, I think of that dark-green blackboard with the words MY LIFE written across it in block letters. Only what I missed the first time was that my name, spelled correctly, was written out underneath it. AMY. What I missed the first time is that someone--or something--I can't see is slowly and methodically erasing my name."

I like this page, though I do wish there was a way one page could showcase all three narrators of this book, as their different voices and perspectives on the same events is one of my favorite aspects of this novel. I'm also quite partial to the chapters of the book that are narrated by Carlie, as Carlie is my dog in real life.

I regret the page break though because the first line of page 69, "thing can have such a way of falling so terribly short" is a much better line in its entirety. Herewith: "Maybe we all just want fiction because the real thing can have such a way of falling so terribly short."
Learn more about the book and author at Alison Pace's website, her blog, and Carlie's blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"The Pirate's Daughter"

Margaret Cezair-Thompson is the author of the widely acclaimed novel, The True History of Paradise. Her other publications include short fiction, essays, and articles in Callaloo, The Washington Post, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Graham House Review, and Elle. Born in Jamaica, West Indies, she teaches literature and creative writing at Wellesley College.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Pirate's Daughter, and reported the following:
P. 69 of The Pirate's Daughter, while not the page I'd choose as a sample text, shows a 14 year old Jamaican girl, Ida Joseph, driving through the country side with her father, Eli Joseph, a Lebanese-Jamaican, and the legendary Hollywood actor Errol Flynn. It's the 1940s. Flynn, who has been befriended by Eli Joseph, is building a home in Jamaica. Ida is infatuated with him. On the way they come upon a tragic scene: a young acquaintance of Ida's lying in the road, a hit and run victim. The scene
as a whole, beginning with the drive home to the end of the chapter shows a cross section of Jamaican life and society in this period, from white wealthy expatriates to middle-class colored to poor Black Jamaicans. Readers also see Errol Flynn come alive on the page in conversation with Ida's father, and they will experience Ida's girlhood hopes and concerns.
Read an excerpt from The Pirate's Daughter, and learn more about the novel at the publisher's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 8, 2008

"The Last Queen"

C. W. Gortner, half-Spanish by birth, holds an M.F.A. in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California and has taught university courses on women of power in the Renaissance. He was raised in Málaga, Spain, and now lives in California.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, The Last Queen, and reported the following:
The Last Queen is the story of Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit the throne. Born the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand, Juana inherited Castile and waged a relentless fight for her crown against her powerful husband, Philip of Hapsburg. Known as Juana la Loca— the mad queen— Juana’s story has been made into two award-winning movies in Spain, and been the subject of numerous biographies. Juana was also the elder sister of Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon and the mother of the Emperor Charles V. She led a life full of drama, intrigue and passion, one rarely covered in historical fiction.

It took six years to research and write The Last Queen. I took several trips to Spain and visited places in Brussels where she lived as archduchess. She went to Flanders (the northern region of modern-day Belgium) as a sixteen year old bride; here, she fell in love with her husband and was for a time his beloved consort, unaware of the tumultuous fate that awaited her. On page 69, Juana realizes she can no longer conform to her duenna Doña Ana’s rigid Spanish ideals:

She had gone too far. I whirled about. “Enough. I’ll not be spoken to as if I were a child!”

Doña Ana’s mouth hung open. Before she could find her voice, Madame de Halewin moved to me. “I believe this sleeve should be raised at the shoulder,” she murmured. About us, the Flemish girls looked from Doña Ana to Madame de Halewin and back to me. Beatriz went to Doña Ana. “Señora, let us take a walk. You look pale.”

“Yes,” I added pointedly, “go with Beatriz.” I waved a preemptory hand.

Doña Ana trudged out. As the door closed, I distinctly heard her say: “She’ll not get away with this. I’ll write to Spain this very afternoon, so help me God.”

Madame de Halewin waved aside the whispering girls. “You, too. Get to work. Her Highness’s bedchamber needs cleansing.”

I studied my reflection. Doña Ana would not spoil this for me. The gown might be indecent according to Spanish standards, but it was more luxurious than anything I’d owned. And I had a lovely bosom; everyone said so. Why shouldn’t I display it to my advantage? Veils and high-collared robes would not go over well with the Hapsburg court.

Madame de Halewin met my gaze. With uncanny prescience she said, “I cannot help but notice your duenna’s outbursts have become more frequent.” She let out a sigh. “Your Highness has shown remarkable restraint, considering she acts as though you’re incapable of making your own decisions. What will she do when you embark on your tour with His Highness, I wonder? The Hapsburg territories are large. Germany, Austria, Holland: the trip could take months.”

The intimation in her words cut deep, as did the thought of Doña Ana blighting what in effect would be my official presentation by Philip to our future subjects. As Madame knelt to check my hem, I suddenly realized I couldn’t stomach another confrontation with my duenna.

This scene illustrates the pressure Juana lived under during the early years of her marriage to assume her husband’s customs and discard her own—an expectation that would exact its toll on her and reveal how little she could trust Philip. The conflict between her Spanish roots and the Hapsburg prepotency eventually spurred her determination to defend her realm against her husband. This page sets the first stages of Juana’s transformation from naïve wife to courageous queen.
Read an excerpt from The Last Queen, and learn more about the book and author at C. W. Gortner's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Try Darkness"

James Scott Bell is the author of Try Dying and Try Darkness from Hachette/Center Street.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Try Darkness and reported the following:
Well, Mr. Marshall McLuhan may have has something there (about page 69 being indicative of the quality of the whole book). Certainly it applies to Try Darkness.

In this scene, my lead character, Ty Buchanan, goes to the fabulous LA mansion of land magnate Sam DeCosse. I wanted to recreate the feeling of Phillip Marlowe paying a visit to General Sternwood in The Big Sleep. In my series I like to show all the strata that is Los Angeles, from the fab wealthy to the stark poor.

In Try Darkness, Buchanan, formerly a high flying LA lawyer, is now living in a trailer on the grounds of Benedictine community. His law practice is down to seeing indigent clients who drift into a coffee house, The Ultimate Sip, run by a former philosophy professor who went nuts.

One day a woman with a six year old child comes to see him. She's being illegally evicted from a downtown hotel. Buchanan investigates and finds out the hotel is part of the holdings of Sam DeCossse, who is being represented by a partner in Buchanan's old law firm.

Then the woman is murdered at the hotel. Buchanan finds the little girl hiding in the rec room. He takes charge of her, as she has no last name, no family.

With the help of the basketball playing nun, Sister Mary Veritas, Buchanan searches for the killer…who just may be after the little girl, too.

Page 69 captures the feel of the book and series. I'm combining two forms here: the classic PI novel of the Hammett/Chandler variety, and the modern legal thriller. Buchanan does not spend all his time at law or in the courtroom. Much of the time he has to be his own investigator.

In this scene at the mansion, he is greeted first by Devlin, the muscle bound personal assistant to Sam DeCosse. Of course there will be trouble between these two.

Devlin says before he can let Buchanan in, he has to pat search him:

"Excuse me?"

"We have to be careful."

"So do I," I said. "I won't be patted by anyone I'm not engaged to."

The squint got squintier. "Sir, it's just a standard pat search."

"And this is just a standard 'You're not going to touch me,' pal. Deal with it."

For a moment he looked like he wanted to deal with it. Personally. But before he could, a voice said, "That won't be necessary."

In front of the door stood Sam DeCosse.

I love LA noir and the whole feeling that something bad can happen at any time, even in the toniest parts of town. Maybe, especially there.
Read an excerpt from Try Darkness, and learn more about the book and author at James Scott Bell's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 5, 2008

"What Happened to Anna K."

Irina Reyn is a fiction and nonfiction writer whose work has appeared in anthologies and publications such as The Forward, San Francisco Chronicle, The Moscow Times, Nextbook and Post Road. Born in Moscow, Irina was raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

She applied the Page 69 Test to What Happened to Anna K., her debut novel, and reported the following:
On page 69 of What Happened to Anna K., poor, innocent Katia is mingling at a New Year's party where she expects her boyfriend will finally approach her traditional Bukharian Jewish parents for her hand in marriage. She is wearing a sweeping white dress, feeling confident and sexy: the belle of the ball. The last line of the page reads, "No, no one could compete with her tonight." Unfortunately for Katia, on the very top of page 70 that position of strength will quickly shift, as her mesmerizing cousin Anna K. makes her appearance at the party.

Much to my surprise (I wound up relieved the test did not apply to page 68!), I discovered that this particular page encapsulates the book's themes rather well, as my novel is about the futility of illusions and expectations. In the page 69 moment, the usually clear-headed Katia expects her life to mimic a romantic narrative and thus fails to anticipate the danger before her. Yet this romanticizing impulse is usually associated with Anna K. and the results tend to be disastrous. How do we "read" (and mis-read) the narrative of our lives? Who are we and how do we live? Those were questions so deeply delved into by Lev Tolstoy in his Anna Karenina, and I attempt to tackle these very same questions, still so relevant today, in What Happened to Anna K.

Here, toward the bottom of the page, is the final moment of Katia's hopes with David: "'You look beautiful, Katie,' he said, so she got up and ran around relatives so he could see her dress from every angle, the seam that ran down her back, the slight flare at her hips. She felt drunk with herself for the first time, irresponsible. Didn't she too deserve this, the things Oleg tried to strip from her? She took surreptitious sips of wine, looked at the other young women. No, no one could compete with her tonight."
Read an excerpt from What Happened to Anna K., and learn more about the book and author at Irina Reyn's website.

Visit Irina Reyn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Fresh Kills"

Bill Loehfelm is the Winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award; his work has also appeared in the anthologies Year Zero and Life in the Wake.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his debut novel, Fresh Kills, and reported the following:
“What did Molly think?” she asked. “Then?”

I hesitated. She always wrote me back, in black ink on pink stationery, paper that she bought just for me. Pages numbered, little hearts drawn around the numerals. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d thought of those letters. It seemed like forever ago. But as I drove, I could feel the fiber in the paper underneath my fingers. I could smell the scent of her skin, of her hands, rising to me as I unfolded the pages, soft, sweet, clean. Vanilla. Strawberries. Did she still smell like that? I hadn’t noticed.

I could feel Julia’s eyes on me. I knew my face had betrayed me, broadcast every thought. She thought she had me. I waited. I knew what was coming, knew Julia couldn’t resist.

“So what’s going on with you two now?” she asked.

I glanced at her across the car. “A fling.”

“Liar,” she said. “You have flings with the waitresses at work whose last names you can’t remember. This is Molly Francis, your first real girlfriend. Your first love.” She poked my ribs with her finger. “Give.”

This page features an exchange between Junior Sanders, the narrator, and his younger sister, Julia. Though close when they were younger, as adults they’ve grown apart and are reunited for the first time in a while by the murder of their father.

Though they’re talking about Junior’s new affair with Molly Francis, his high school sweetheart, the conversation reveals a lot about Junior and Julia’s relationship.

Julia presses for intimacy and some knowledge of her brother’s current life, hoping to reforge the bond that they shared growing up together through the tragedy of their father’s murder. Junior, as he typically does, fends her off with understatement and misdirection, fearful of both remembering better times and hoping for the future due in large part to his past as an abused child.

But perhaps better than any other character, Julia prompts her brother’s vivid memories of the past. Junior’s detailed recollection of Molly’s love letters put the lie to the outward coldness about Molly that he shows his sister. It also gives the reader a hint that Junior may have a better soul and bigger heart than he would ever admit.

The scene also speaks to the surviving connection between Junior and his sister. He knows Julia will catch him in the lie about his affair with Molly, but he tells it anyway. Julia forgives him the lie, but calls him on it. Junior, with deference that he does not show any other character, lets her call him out. As people that truly love each other, they look past the faults that might otherwise get in the way. It’s a feature of their bond that will be cruelly tested as the novel moves forward.
Read an excerpt from Fresh Kills, and learn more about the author and his work at Bill Loehfelm's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Dear American Airlines"

Jonathan Miles is the cocktails columnist for the New York Times and a contributing editor and books columnist for Men’s Journal. His work has appeared, among other places, in GQ, the Oxford American, the New York Observer, and the New York Times Book Review.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Dear American Airlines, and reported the following:
Thank you for not asking for a Page 70 test. That page of my short little novel offers a rundown of the grim dining options available at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. “Butter Crust Chicagoland Pizza & McFuggets!” my hungry narrator laments. “Fu Manchu Wok Craaaaaaziness. Aromatherapy Smoothies.” That sort of thing. Or a Page 68 test, since that page describes the mood of airport-stranded smokers outside O’Hare (surly), and the view from the sidewalk smoking lounge (foul). But page 69, bingo. That’s a rich one, at least to me. That’s when my narrator—Benjamin R. Ford, b. 1953 in New Orleans, La., former poet & current translator of Polish lit, recovering alcoholic and piss-poor dad, and ticketholder on an American Airlines flight that’s supposed to deliver him to Los Angeles to participate in the wedding of his estranged daughter but...—realizes that O’Hare airport, where he is interminably delayed, might be a simulcram of purgatory, or vice versa. “Consider the view from my chair at H6,” he writes to the titular airline. “Sprawled ‘round me is a crowd of temporary refugees waiting, waiting, yawning, drumming fingers on kneecaps, asking cellphones what they did to deserve this, rereading The Da Vinci Code to keep from having to stare at the carpet.” Here’s a man with one measly ambition left—a mostly-symbolic act of atonement in L.A.—and he’s been thwarted by American Airlines, left to simmer in the purgatorial stew of O’Hare. And oooh he’s pissed. Flip back to Page 66 for a section that begins, “Dear American Airlines, you miserable fucks...” Et cetera et wowee cetera. But just three pages later, after some calming drags on a Lucky Strike and a dose of dour reality, he’s onto something, if only faintly: that his exile here, at O’Hare, might be karmically warranted, that Purgatory—even the modern, secular version of it, with its Hudson News outlets and TSA screeners and buzzy-blue flourescent lighting—might be a necessary terrace between heaven and hell, or between, as Bennie says earlier, “the dregs of one life and the debris of another.” On Page 69, Bennie is coming to grips with the metaphorical dimensions of his predicament. Which for a poet, even an ex-poet, is known as the eureka moment. And with that knowledge, that glimpse of the philosophical underpinning of his situation, Bennie begins to steer himself from blind rage toward acceptance, and maybe, eh, you never know, toward something like redemption. We’re “a semi-punished lot, all of us,” he says of his fellow strandees, in O’Hare as in life. “Imprisoned within a pause, desperate to ascend.”
Read an excerpt from the novel and learn more about the author and his work at the Dear American Airlines website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"The Grift"

Debra Ginsberg is the author of the novel Blind Submission, as well as three memoirs: Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress, Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World, and About My Sisters.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Grift, and reported the following:
Alas, p. 69 of The Grift is blank (not, I'd hope, representative of the novel as a whole). Page 71, however, is certainly representative of one of this novel's major themes: Southern California's landscape and weather and how it affects the populace, especially my main character, Marina, a fake psychic whose life is turned inside out when she realizes she has been given the real gift of second sight.

Here, Marina, who has recently relocated to North San Diego County in an attempt to flee her past and build a new life, reflects on that spookiest of SoCal phenomena, the Santa Ana winds, and what they might portend for her future.

Marina woke up to the dry howl of a mad wind. The Santa Ana winds, known simply in some circles as el diablo or "the devil," arrived on schedule and with a sly wink in time for Halloween. Twenty-four hours later, it was still swirling around caved-in pumpkins and blowing remnants of bathroom tissue and black crepe towards the ocean. Marina heard her windows rattle and her first thought was that she was going to have a busy day. Her second thought was that it was a good thing, because it was her birthday. Turning thirty-five meant that she had only two years left to reach her goal. which was to have enough money to stop working and do whatever she wanted. She wouldn't call it retirement, a sad word that conjured images of golf clubs and guided tours. What she was after was the opposite of retirement -- a new life. Today, at least, the weather would help.

There were reasons why Marina welcomed this wind that so many hated. When it raced down the mountains and out to the coast, the Santa Anas grew hot and arid, sparking wildfires and setting nerves on edge. People complained of dry skin, flat hair, nosebleeds, and headaches. But it also swept away haze and fog, leaving the landscape so bright that the colors seemed super-saturated and the air sparkled with particles of desert dust blown west. Marina relished the clarity and the way she felt when the wind moved through her body, so dry it made her shiver.
Read an excerpt from The Grift, and learn more about the book and author at Debra Ginsberg's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 1, 2008

"Courage in Patience"

Beth Fehlbaum is a teacher with a M.Ed. She drew on her experience working with abused children as an English teacher in writing Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the book and reported the following:
Page 69, in its entirety:

"You had my daughter examined without my permission? How dare you! She's only fifteen years old. She is a minor. I am her legal guardian! How dare you?"

"No, ma'am, how dare you. Someone raped your daughter, and if knowing that doesn't concern you in the least, then you've got a problem." Detectives Gardner and Pratt shot Officer Sheffield a look in reaction to his outburst.

Officer Sheffield blushed and said, "I'll be outside. Let me know when you want him cuffed."

"Now's as good a time as any," Pratt said. "Mr. Baker, we are placing you under arrest for suspicion of sexual assault of a child. You have the right to remain silent.."


Mrs. C. asked C.J. Cornell if she could take me to get something to eat before we met my dad at the Children and Family Services offices. C.J. agreed and said it would give her time to get in touch with the Northside PD to see if Charlie had been taken into custody.

We went to an Applebee's near the office complex. I could barely stop shaking long enough to hold the menu, much less decide on something to eat. Mrs. C. made the executive decision that we would each like a burger and fries and sent the curious waitress scurrying away with an arch of her eyebrow when the waitress started asking me if I was okay. "Of course she's okay. Don't you have some orders to turn in or something?"

I was definitely not okay. In fact, to say I was freaked out is like saying

Page 69 of Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse, is representative of the fundamental problem in the story: fifteen-year-old Ashley Nicole Asher has been sexually abused since the age of nine, and when she tells her mother what has been going on, her mother turns her back on her. It is a crystallizing moment; Ashley describes herself as feeling like a mirror that someone has hit over and over again with a hammer. She is shards of glass.

Most mothers would give their own lives for their child. Ashley's mom isn't like that. The emotional damage done by her refusal to acknowledge the truth is, in many ways, equal to or worse than the damage done by Charlie.

The good news is, Ashley's absentee biological father, David is reunited with Ashley in the offices of Children and Family Services. Ashley has to learn whether or not he deserves her trust. Her life begins anew when David brings her home to the tiny Texas town of Patience, Texas. She meets other teens in a summer school English class, and, like all of them, learns what she is made of when she faces her greatest fears.
Read an excerpt from Courage in Patience, and learn more about the book and author at the Courage in Patience blog and Beth Fehlbaum's MySpace page.

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

--Marshal Zeringue