Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Die for You"

Amy Fellner Dominy is a former advertising copywriter, MFA playwright and hula-hoop champion. Her novels for teens and tweens include Die For You; A Matter of Heart; Audition & Subtraction; and OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Dominy’s first picture book, Cookiesaurus Rex, will be published by Disney, Fall 2017. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, various pets and two children who occasionally stop by for free meals.

Dominy applied the Page 69 Test to Die For You, and reported the following:
An excerpt pieced together from sections of page 69:
I lift my tank. I’m wearing a new lacy push-up bra in Dillon’s favorite color, blue. I bought it yesterday with this moment in mind.

His breath hisses out with a groan. “Oh, hell.”

I smile. The bra is worth every penny I spent. He slides off his shorts and boxers and I slip off my shorts and then, more slowly, my underwear. A blush prickles over my chest and neck. I don’t know why I suddenly feel shy, though this is still pretty new for us. (…)

“Don’t,” he says.

I blink. “What?”

He slides one finger beneath a bra strap and pulls me close. “Don’t be shy with me.”

“I don’t mean to be.”

“It’s because we were apart.” His gaze is full of love but there’s also a hint of pain in the tired puffiness beneath his eyes.
After reading the excerpt of page 69, you probably expect a steamy romance for teens. In fact, this is a novel for teens about a loving relationship that begins to twist into something dark. Something dangerous.

Emma and Dillon are seniors in high school, very much in love, but Emma has just found out about an internship that will take her abroad for a year. In this scene, Dillon has been gone for a week’s vacation with his mom and he’s missed Emma so much that already he’s beginning to feel desperate. She can’t leave him—certainly not for a whole year. He would rather die than be without her.

This scene on page 69 is a moment of closeness and connection, but laced with the fear and obsession that will lead Dillon to prove to Emma that dying for her isn’t merely words.

The story shines a light on emotional abuse, which has become a silent epidemic among teens. It’s a reminder never to sacrifice who you are for anyone or anything.

(And, for those of you wondering if this book is appropriate for your teen, this section is as x-rated as it gets. The actual sex happens off the page.)
Visit Amy Fellner Dominy's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Amy Fellner Dominy & Riley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Buried in the Country"

Carola Dunn is the author of twenty Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, set in England in the 1920s, four Cornish mysteries, and over 30 Regencies.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Buried in the Country, the fourth Cornish mystery, and reported the following:
From page 69:
[Sir Edward] took the decanter back to the tray and stopped to talk to Tariro and Gina, who had parted the curtains to look out at the storm. Meanwhile, Norton popped in again to beg for a word with her ladyship. Payne started towards Eleanor and Nontando, but Eleanor gave him a look that he correctly interpreted as "Stay away."

"Have you met Tariro before, Miss Nontando?" she asked. "Something gave me that impression."

"Something like his walking away before we could be introduced?" Nontando said dryly. "Yes, we met in Oxford. We both did our A-levels at Oxford Tech, so we could hardly help getting to know each other."

"I imagine it was a relief, in a strange country, to know someone from home."

"It was. In fact, we...went out together."

Lived together? Eleanor wondered. "Then he stayed in Oxford and you went to London."

"He was offered places at both Oxford and LSE. He could have chosen London," Nontando said resentfully. "He wanted me to give up my education, marry him, and get a job. To support him. Typical Shona. Though, to be fair, Ndebele men are just as bad. If you know Zimbabwe, you know women count for nothing."

So much for Sir Edward's peace conference!
Eleanor's task is to keep the peace between the participants. As page 69 demonstrates, it's clearly going to be a job worthy of the talents of the retired global aid worker.

Meanwhile, her niece, DSI Megan Pencarrow, is providing security, watching out for spies. Page 69 gives no hint of this side of the story, nor of the two villainous men who may have followed her to the isolated hotel where the conference takes place. She's also looking for a local solicitor who's gone missing.

All these threads come together when a murder occurs. It leads to a wild car chase, in an attempt to prevent further deaths, followed by a full-scale manhunt on foggy Bodmin Moor at night. Eleanor, with her knowledge of the moors and her diplomatic skills, plus a few tricks she's picked up on her travels, emerges with the solution to the mystery.
Learn more about the book and author at Carola Dunn's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Carola Dunn and Trillian.

The Page 69 Test: Manna from Hades (the 1st Cornish Mystery).

The Page 69 Test: A Colourful Death (the 2d Cornish Mystery).

The Page 69 Test: The Valley of the Shadow (the 3d Cornish Mystery).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 17, 2017

"DRONE"

Kim Garcia is the author of The Brighter House, winner of the 2015 White Pine Press Poetry Prize, DRONE, winner of the 2015 Backwaters Prize, and Madonna Magdalene, released by Turning Point Books in 2006. Her chapbook Tales of the Sisters won the 2015 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Contest. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Crab Orchard Review, Crazyhorse, Mississippi Review, Nimrod and Subtropics, and her work has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac. Recipient of the 2014 Lynda Hull Memorial Prize, an AWP Intro Writing Award, a Hambidge Fellowship and an Oregon Individual Artist Grant, Garcia teaches creative writing at Boston College.

She applied the Page 69 Test to DRONE and reported the following:
From page 69:
"Kindred"

The hand at work, heart’s drone,
map-dance in honeycomb. The path

of flower, clover song, sweet magnetic
north, nectar cooled in flight. River

rocks’ remembered wash, a karst of blue.
A sky mountainous with frowning cloud,

stars slipping the city’s hot gaze, fastening
their new eyes over fresh yearnings—home

drawn up along the lines of the old ache
like desert seed, fashioning green tongues.
At first look “Kindred” is very different from many of the poems in DRONE, a book that meditates on the terrifying repercussions and temptations of a weapon that changes military rules of engagement, what a war zone is, and even how we think of the sky. But this poem speaks to two thematic threads that weave DRONE together—the longing for peace, despite every challenge created by these slippery, powerful new weapons, and the state of belonging which we all share as a ground of our being. Warfare quickly devolves into total war, unending war, without keeping these two realities present, even under tremendous conflicting pressures. Drones have made possible a level of surveillance, and therefore responsibility, never before experienced. We need all our collective human wisdom to respond in policy, poetry, and procedure. We are in truth “Kindred.”
Visit Kim Garcia's website.

The Page 69 Test: Madonna Magdalene.

The Page 69 Test: The Brighter House.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"I Liked My Life"

After graduating from The Taft School in 1998 and Babson College in 2002, Abby Fabiaschi climbed the corporate ladder in high technology. When her children turned three and four in what felt like one season, she resigned to pursue writing.

Fabiaschi applied the Page 69 Test to I Liked My Life, her debut upmarket women’s fiction novel, and reported the following:
I Liked My Life explores what happens to Brady, a workaholic father, and Eve, his rebellious teenage daughter, after Maddy, their seemingly devoted matriarch, commits suicide. Looking down at the family she left behind, Maddy tries to make things right.

As it turns out, page sixty-nine is quite telling. It’s Eve’s seventeenth birthday and Maddy fears Brady will screw it up, the way he has so many parenting moments since her death. “I’m nervous for them,” she says to an audience who can’t hear her. “I watch the scene play out as I imagine a writer finishes a chapter, hopeful the conclusion complements the rising action, but unsure it will.”

The reader also gets a glimpse into the emerging relationship between Brady and Rory, the woman Maddy hopes will become a liaison between her husband and daughter, as she once was.
Visit Abby Fabiaschi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"The Skill of Our Hands"

Steven Brust is the bestselling author of Issola, Dragon, The Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years After, and many others. Skyler White is the author of And Falling, Fly and In Dreams Begin, along with co-authoring The Incrementalist series with Steven Brust.

White applied the Page 69 Test to The Skill of Our Hands, the second volume in The Incrementalist series, and reported the following:
I’m a believer.

After I agreed to write this post, before I checked for what was on The Skill of Our Hand’s 69th page, I set myself a little test: to prove the rule, the page would need to reference immigration, and it would need to include one of Oskar’s asides to the audience. It didn’t do either.

But in yet another instance where books know their authors better than we know ourselves (ask Steve about Teckla sometime) the rule proved itself right, and me wrong. In my mind, Skill is Oskar’s book. He is, in fact, on stage on page 69, but the scene is written from his point of view, and he doesn’t interrupt himself quite as often as he does his fellow Incrementalists, so no asides. And yes, the book is centrally about brutal race-based laws now and in the 1850’s, but it’s also about the militarization of the civilian police force, and which weapons — guns, sex, data mining, magic — are fair to use in those fights, and which backfire. The book is about those questions, but it’s about these people — the Incrementalists. The scene on page 69 (and onto 70, sorry) is between Oskar, Irina, another Incrementalist, and Jane, who isn’t one of the group:
"We know pretty much everything, about everyone. Or we can with a little work."

"That's--"

"Your cat's name was Satha because when you got her you couldn't pronounce Samantha. Your big brother has a small white scar over his left eye where you pushed him into the edge of the piano when he wouldn't stop poking you. Your favorite dessert is blueberries with sugar and half and half. You became a Wiccan in college because you like the people, the community, and the attitude, but you’re not sure you really believe it all. You kept your last name when you married because you had it legally changed from ‘Rossi’ to 'Astarte' two years before, and you didn’t want to look fickle.”

Jane was staring at Oskar, her eyes widening. When he stopped speaking, she stood up abruptly, and stepped back a little. "Okay," she said. "This is creepy."

"Yeah," he said. "I know. Sorry."

"Way to be reassuring, Oskar," said Irina.

"Go fuck yourself," Oskar appeased, and turned back to Jane. "We are kind of creepy," he admitted. "But our intentions are good."

"Who’s we?"

"That's a difficult question to answer. We're a small group of people who try to make things better."
Oskar is telling Jane about herself to show her who he is, and who they are. Which, in the best of worlds, is what this book, maybe all books, are really all about.

So yeah, I’m a believer. But I’m not obedient. I’m going to cheat a little again and sneak Oskar’s last aside in here at the end, because he ought to get a chance to talk right to you: “Get involved. Make things better. I’ve taken a big step here, and maybe it’s just jumping up and down plus waving. Maybe it covers all the distance from a gunshot to an invitation. And if you accept it, from Look to Be. Yours are the hands on those machines. Think for a minute about what that means.”
Visit Steven Brust's website and Skyler White's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"The Breakout"

Ryan David Jahn is the author of the novels Acts of Violence, which won the Crime Writers' Association John Creasey Dagger, Low Life, The Dispatcher, which was long-listed for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, The Last Tomorrow, and the newly released The Breakout.

Jahn applied the Page 69 Test to The Breakout and reported the following:
From page 69:
While the phone rang in his ear, he lit a Camel, took a deep drag, and spat a fleck of tobacco off the end of his tongue.

“George Rankin.”

“Gael.”

“What’s the news?”

“Got some paperwork for you at the dead drop.”

“What kind?”

“Bank transfers, phone records, that kind of thing.”
Above is the first twenty percent of the sixty-ninth page of The Breakout, and while it presents a higher ratio of dialogue to action than the book as a whole, I also think it’s fairly representative, especially if you understand that the two men talking, George Rankin and Gael Morales, are DEA agents, the latter working undercover. The Breakout is a thriller about a Marine who travels to Mexico to kill the man responsible for his sister’s death and ends up in prison on trumped-up drug charges; it’s a thriller about the men in his platoon attempting to break him out. But that only explains the premise. On a different level the book is about the morality of violence and lies, those we tell others and those we tell ourselves to justify our actions. Gael Morales, the undercover agent leaving paperwork at the dead drop above, is living a double life, working for the head of a drug cartel he’s also trying to bring down, and because of this double life, he must lie to himself (and others) constantly. He must live as two men, both criminal and cop, and shift from being one person to another at a moment’s notice. Like other characters in the book, he finds ways to justify his own violence as being necessary for the greater good. In the brief excerpt above he is simply a DEA agent doing his job, but very few of the characters in The Breakout are exactly what they present themselves to be.
Visit Ryan David Jahn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 13, 2017

"The Brighter House"

Kim Garcia is the author of The Brighter House, winner of the 2015 White Pine Press Poetry Prize, DRONE, winner of the 2015 Backwaters Prize, and Madonna Magdalene, released by Turning Point Books in 2006. Her chapbook Tales of the Sisters won the 2015 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Contest. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Crab Orchard Review, Crazyhorse, Mississippi Review, Nimrod and Subtropics, and her work has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac. Recipient of the 2014 Lynda Hull Memorial Prize, an AWP Intro Writing Award, a Hambidge Fellowship and an Oregon Individual Artist Grant, Garcia teaches creative writing at Boston College.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Brighter House and reported the following:
From page 69:
the mystic crucifixion by Tintoretto

has become a Nativity. A curator’s x-ray reveals the bishop below
the shepherd, hands folded over his heart. The woman
with her arms flung wide has not lost her son, but received
him—suffering at both ends of the frame, worn
canvas sewn together. A chicken scratches
in the dirt. Over the hill the Magi arrive, impossibly clean
like a cavalry of peace. They have left their arms
at the palace, hands clasped around enthusiasm already
brimming the small vessel that must contain it. His
swaddling is whiter than the lamb
that sniffs at its fold. To work this miracle the legs of Christ
are severed, painted over. An angel is chopped in half. Clouds
become rocks. Everything heavier as the glory settles
like sediment in a glass. A camel spits.
Crickets stitch in the straw. It is always the first day.
Sometimes at public readings, I lead with this poem since The Brighter House is a collection of just such attempts at spiritual reconstruction. I imagine the painter Tintoretto’s decision to take a crucifixion and remake it as nativity (something revealed in the last decade when curators x-rayed the canvas) as responding to a practical need—not wasting canvas and work—but rich with evocative suggestion. Each figure must play a new role, imagined beyond the grief in which they were originally conceived.

I wrote the poems in The Brighter House after my father’s death, and at first I wrote for my sisters, to give them words for experiences that hurt to speak. How to understand our dilemma when he lived and then when he died? How to reimagine life after the violence was well and truly over? I wanted to be, as the title suggests, a “brighter house,” but how to build this new architecture? I let the urgency of that question come into the poems themselves through myth and fairytale, beyond autobiographical details. I wanted the poems as a whole to speak to anyone who is trying to move from suffering—material, political, spiritual—to tenderness and trust.

Imagining ourselves into such a frame costs something. The work is hard and asks parts of ourselves to give up what they do naturally and reactively, to lay down our arms, to witness something new, to open our arms to life as a new birth. What I want to say, on page 69 or any page, to anyone doing such work is: It is always the first day.
Visit Kim Garcia's website.

The Page 69 Test: Madonna Magdalene.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars"

Martine Murray studied law at Melbourne University, then pursued painting and joined a circus before starting a dance company called Bird on a Wire. After an injury, she began writing and illustrating books for children and young adults. Her novels, including The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, have won several awards in Australia. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages. She lives in Castlemaine, Australia, with her daughter and dog.

Murray applied the Page 69 Test to latest novel, Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars, and reported the following:
Weirdly I would say page 69 of Molly and Pim is a turning point moment when Molly first speaks to Pim, and the only time she tells anyone of her terrible secret. This is the moment that brings Pim into the adventure that has overtaken her life and so it is when they join forces so to speak; their friendship begins and Pim is inculcated into the magic of Molly’s world. Through his acceptance of it, she also begins to embrace what is particular and different about her and her life.
Visit Martine Murray's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 11, 2017

"The Chosen Maiden"

Eva Stachniak is the award-winning and internationally bestselling author of four novels. The Winter Palace was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and made The Washington Post’s most notable fiction list in 2012. She holds a PhD in literature from McGill University. Born and raised in Poland, she moved to Canada in 1981, and lives in Toronto.

Stachniak applied the Page 69 Test to her newly released fifth novel, The Chosen Maiden, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I visit Vaslav every free moment I have. I read to him from his favourite books: Krylov’s fables, Tales of The Thousand and One Nights, Pushkin’s Onegin and Tolstoy’s Childhood. We play games and I let him beat me in chess—which is not easy, for Vaslav makes many rash moves I do not anticipate. I repeat to him all the praises I’ve heard about his dancing, of his lightness, his force, his dedication to perfecting every move. “Who said that?” he asks. Fokine? Cecchetti? Soon he is allowed to sit up then walk, and the doctors confirm that—in a month or two—he will be allowed to dance.

“Tell me what really happened?” I ask him a few times, but Vaslav shrugs off my question and says he doesn’t remember. Or that it is not important. Or that I wouldn’t understand anyway. When once I repeat the rumours that Bourman and Rosai smeared the floor with soap and then raised the music stand too high the moment he wasn’t looking, Vaslav’s cheeks turn white with rage.

“That’s a vicious lie, Bronia,” he screams. “It’s only stupid people who say such things.”

“How can you be so sure?”

But Vaslav doesn’t want to listen. He fixes me with his eyes and says, “I forbid you to ever mention it again.”
I wrote The Chosen Maiden because, after two novels about Catherine the Great, I wanted to re-live the end of Catherine’s Russia. What better subject than the imperial ballet artists who dazzled Paris and St. Petersburg and changed the course of modern dance? Especially the Nijinsky siblings: Vaslav—the God of Dance—and his sister Bronislava (Bronia) who, to prove her talent, had to free herself from her brother’s extraordinary fame. Having survived the tumultuous upheavals of the early decades of the 20th century, she’ll become not just a renowned dancer and teacher but also a groundbreaking choreographer, whose visions will secure her a firm place in the history of modern dance.

The novel, carefully researched, is written in Bronia’s voice and takes a reader on an intimate and dramatic journey. Bronia will dance in Paris, London, Monte Carlo. She will live through WWI and Russian Revolution, escape from Bolshevik Kiev, and choreograph for famous Ballets Russes, before the onset of WWII will force her to leave Europe for good.

Page 69 catches my heroine at a dramatic moment of her life. Bronia is a student in the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg where her older brother, Vaslav, is universally hailed as a rising star of Russian ballet. A few days before, however, Vaslav had been a victim of a vicious student prank which almost killed him. As the future God of the Dance is recuperating, his “so called friends” complicit in the accident come to visit. Bronia—younger but in many ways more mature and realistic than her brother—realizes how vulnerable Vaslav is, how fragile.

Future events will prove how significant this realization is.
Learn more about the book and author at Eva Stachniak's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"The Animators"

Kayla Rae Whitaker’s work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Split Lip Magazine, BODY, Bodega, Joyland, The Switchback, Five Quarterly, American Microreviews and Interviews, and others. She has a BA from the University of Kentucky and an MFA from New York University. After many years of living in Brooklyn, she returned to Kentucky, her home state, in 2016 with her husband and their geriatric tomcat, Breece D’J Pancake.

Whitaker applied the Page 69 Test to The Animators, her debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Mel slaps my knee. “It’s cool. I got my demons, too. When my mom got knocked up with me, she was real dandy to do a DIY abort job because she was too cheap to go to the clinic, right? And she heard somewhere that an excess of vitamin C could kill a baby in utero. So she took a metric butt-ton of C, like orange juice injections straight up the cooter. As an adult? I almost never get sick. True story. Almost made it into the movie, that bit. But it just ended up making sweet, sweet love to the cutting room floor.”

She’s throttling her microphone now, too. I can see it loosening off the dash, unknowingly making purchase when she talks.

“It’s true,” Mel says. “It’s near impossible to overdose on vitamin C. You just end up shitting it out.”

Glynnis nearly chokes.

“Try that with other vitamins. Vitamin D? You’ll end up with a giant purple eye. Vitamin A? Testicles like pumpkins. But C? Just sluices on through, babe. Like me.”

Mel leans over the table and the microphone rips from the dash. There’s a spark, that electrical spit of a device cutting out. The sound engineer jumps up, waving his arms.

Mel says, “Crap.”

Glynnis freezes. Looks at me. And for the first time in the interview, I laugh. I laugh, and I don’t know what it means or where it’s coming from. But for once, I’m not forcing it.”

“Oh ho,” Glynnis says. “You two. I think we’ll wrap it up here.”
*
I don’t talk on the elevator. The silence trails us out onto Sixth Avenue.

“I don’t know what your problem is,” Mel says. “She liked us. Aside from the broken mic. Why are you so moody all of a sudden?”

“My interpretation of a good interview is one where you don’t talk about how much tail I do or don’t get.”

“I was trying to guide her away from that stupid Salon article because I was sick of talking about it. It’s called a joke.”
Page 69 of The Animators represents one of the book’s central problems at its loudest, most destructive peak: it is, at its heart, about a relationship populated by two polar opposites. Balance is forever an issue for the Vaught and Kisses partnership. The behavior of Mel Vaught, the duo’s rowdier, more outgoing half, consistently upsets this balance. She’s a brilliant artist, but often acts out in the worst ways possible, fueled by booze, drugs, and a natural penchant for sparking upheaval. And on page 69 of the book, she may or may not be high on crystal meth while ruining a highly anticipated NPR interview. Her quieter, less flamboyant partner, Sharon, subtly snubbed earlier in the interview by prestigious NPR host Glynnis Havermeyer, is letting Mel run wild as a revenge tactic, but wishing the entire exercise would end.

I find the roots of Mel’s behavior interesting. She abhors sanctimony, and if she detects even a hint of it, she is tempted to push boundaries. She has a troubling habit of testing others to see whether or not they have the ability to see through her exhibitionism to the real substance underneath, and judges accordingly. This is largely because she doesn’t like being judged. Judgment hurts. When Sharon encounters judgment, she’d rather remove herself altogether, go home, and work. I think Sharon recognizes the hurt place in Mel that pushes her to act out, and because she keeps company with her friend’s pain so well, often excuses her behavior when she is tempted not to.

Her tenderness at judgment aside, I think that Mel is a pretty liberated character. This is an incredibly rare trait for a woman. She does and says what she wants and the displeasure of others means very little to her. She is less influenced by shame and shaming than most, which was fun to write – it was a pleasure to know, at least in some measure, what that feels like. And here, too, is another probable reason why Sharon lets Mel run wild: Sharon admires her, and wishes she could have a bit of that courage for herself.
Visit Kayla Rae Whitaker's website.

Writers Read: Kayla Rae Whitaker.

My Book, The Movie: The Animators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"The Runaway Midwife"

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River.

Harman applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Runaway Midwife, and reported the following:
When asked to take this test with my new book, The Runaway Midwife, I was surprised that page 69 perfectly represents the arc of the story.
For six days it rains and the waves crash up on the break-wall dragging the chunks of ice in and then out. On the fourth day, in the afternoon, the clouds, like battleships, pass over the horizon. Spring is coming. I can feel it, but there’s no joy in my heart.

I’ve been here almost four weeks and there’s a change in the light and the sky is bright blue, but I’ve slipped into the gray waters and I’m floating back and forth with the ice. Clara Perry is dead but Sara Livingston of Seagull Island has not quite been born.

Besides leaving my home, my job, my patients and my daughter, I think I know why I’m in the doldrums. I haven’t delivered a baby in over five weeks and I hadn’t realized how much being a midwife carried me on wings.
Clara Perry, nurse-midwife, is on the run, hiding on a remote island in Canada. She’s taken a new identity, but is afraid to move around because she’s there as an illegal immigrant, a thief and a fugitive wanted in the US for manslaughter following the death of a patient at a home birth. (This is a woman her ex-husband calls a Girl Scout because she’d never do anything against the law or even unseemly.)

I like the passage above because it shows the protagonist floating back and forth with the broken ice in the gray waves of Lake Erie, as depressed as she has ever been, and then things begin to change as spring comes and she realizes that’s it’s not her new life that’s getting her down, but the fact that she’s missing the most important part of her old one.
Birth is a miracle, not just for the patient and her family, but for me. When I was with a woman in labor, I wasn’t thinking about what to have for dinner or whom Richard was screwing. My full attention was on the patient and there was peace in that. It’s like meditation and there’s only one thing that matters, getting the mother and the baby safely through the passage with love and grace. I miss it.
I think if I were the reader, I would read on. By this point, I’ve followed the protagonist through a harrowing journey in a snowstorm from West Virginia to Ohio. We’ve crossed the thawing ice of Lake Erie on a snowmobile and stumbled through deep snow, in the middle of the night, to an isolated cottage. What will happen next? Will Clara, be forced to take more risks, just to survive?
Visit Patricia Harman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"Duplicity"

Ingrid Thoft was born in Boston and is a graduate of Wellesley College. Her interest in the PI life and her desire to create a believable PI character led her to the certificate program in private investigation at the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle with her husband.

Thoft intended to apply the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Duplicity, but that page presented some issues. So...
From page 59:
Tucking the gun into the back of her waistband, she moved into the kitchen. Dishes and glasses were smashed on the floor, and pots and pans littered the counters. She didn’t even know the proper home for the kitchen items, having spent so little time there. The thieves had been considerate enough to leave some of her items in the fridge, including a cold diet soda. The hiss of carbonation was a reassuring sound, and she took a long drink before returning to the couch.

Milloy answered on the second ring.

“I have a question for you,” Fina said.

“Shoot.”

“Do you happen to know where I keep the drainy thing, you know, the thing you put spaghetti in?”

There was a long pause.

“The colander?” he asked.

“Yes! That thing.”

“It’s in the lower cabinet to the left of the stove.”

“I knew you would have the answer.”

“You could have just looked, genius.”

“Which brings us to the problem: I couldn’t have just looked. Everything that was once in the cabinets is now out of the cabinets.”

“What happened?”

“Someone broke in and rearranged everything.”

“Do you want me to come over?”

“No, I’m good. I’ll just shove stuff back in.”

Milloy sighed. “I’m coming over.”

“You don’t have to. I’m good.”

“I’m not worried about you. I’m worried about how I’m going to find that drainy thing the next time I need it.”

“So selfish, Milloy. You only care about yourself.”

“I’ll be there in half an hour.”

Fina looked around Nanny’s living room and felt weary. Not because the place had been trashed, but because the suspect list was long: She had a knack for pissing off people. Fina was certain that the break-in was targeted and intended to send a specific message.

But it was hard to decode the message when there were so many possible senders.
For this visit to The Page 69 Test I have to break tradition. As luck would have it, page 69 of my new book Duplicity reveals too much! So, I’m taking the liberty of making this entry The Page 59 Test, which finds my protagonist, Fina Ludlow, sorting through her personal items in the aftermath of a break-in at her condo. Fina is a private investigator in Boston and works for her family’s firm of personal injury attorneys. She’s no stranger to the occasional dustup and doesn’t shy away from danger or confrontation, but the violation of her personal space is particularly galling. Was the perpetrator looking for something or just trying to send a message? Is the break-in related to her current investigation into an evangelical church that may be after its congregants’ money? Or maybe it was someone with whom Fina tangled in the past. Fina, in her typical fashion of pragmatism and good humor, sets about cleaning up the mess, but calls in reinforcements. Milloy—her best friend, personal masseuse, occasional operative and friend with benefits—knows that when it comes to putting her kitchen back together, Fina is in way over her head.
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The Page 69 Test: Brutality.

--Marshal Zeringue