Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Page 69-Bomb

By Joe Moore

Over the last week we’ve had a noticeable increase in traffic and comments. This was due to the discussion of a few controversial topics including the use of the F-bomb and the C-bomb in novels. Some of the reactions were interesting, some downright shocking. John G. and I have a phone chat about it and our end conclusion: it’s a big world out there. You can never predict an individual’s reaction, especially when it comes to the use of profanity in the pages of novels.

I must admit I’ve never stopped reading a book because of the use of a single word. Most of the time, when I do stop it’s because the writing sucks. Either the plot was cliché or the characters were two-dimensional or the writing was weak and lazy, or all the other countless reasons people jump ship before the end. But for all the visitors that have visited our cozy little blog lately to comment on these subjects, thank you. Your patronage is appreciated.

So what is the page 69-bomb? Actually, it should say, the page 69 test. I used the word “bomb”as a cheap way to keep your attention. Sorry. The page 69 test is the real topic of my blog today. What is it? A trick to help everyone in choosing a book to read.

Picture yourself standing at the new release table in your local bookstore. You see a bunch of new arrivals. Some authors you’ve heard of, some names are new. How do you choose? According to John Sutherland, author of How to read a novel, you don’t judge a book by its cover.

Dust jackets, blurbs, shoutlines, critics' commendations ("quote whores", as they are called in the video/DVD business) all jostle for the browser's attention. But I recommend ignoring the hucksters' shouts and applying instead the McLuhan test.

Marshall McLuhan, the guru of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), recommends that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. It works. Rule One, then: browse powerfully and read page 69.

I tried it with a few books on my shelf to see if I was attracted to a book by what I found on page 69. Of course, these were books I’d already read. I was highly skeptical. It sounded more like a gimmick or parlor trick that a true test of a book’s worth. What I wanted to see is if page 69 reflected the story or style or voice of the book. Was it a good sample of things to come? In theory, page 69 should be far enough into a story that it exemplifies the heart of the tale. What I found was that, in just about all cases, the page 69 test worked.

After a few of these test cases, I worked up enough courage to do the test on my own books. I started with my current WIP (written with Lynn Sholes). Here’s what’s on page 69 of The Blade Of Abraham:

“Maybe I’ll do it,” I said, immediately thinking I would regret the commitment.

“I’m not going to hold you to it yet.” He nodded toward the half-empty Johnnie Walker bottle sitting on the railing. “I can’t let you make a decision while under the influence.”

“It never stopped you before.” I realized that was uncalled for. “Sorry.” I took a bite of the eggs. “You always were a good omelet maker.”

We sat in silence eating. After the last bite, I was full and totally mellowed out. Of all the people in the world, Kenny was the only one who knew me so well—all my secrets, all my vulnerabilities and fears.

He extended his hand. “Give me your plate. I’ve got a pan of hot soapy water waiting. I’ll drop them in and we can worry about it in the morning.”

I didn’t have much resistance left so I handed over the bare plate. Kenny disappeared for a couple of seconds before rejoining me on the swing. His arm slid around me and it seemed so natural.

“Tired?” he asked.

“Pleasantly.” I leaned my head on his shoulder.

“I’ve missed you, Max.” He lifted my chin and kissed me. Not hard. Just soft and affectionate. Cautiously, as if he might hurt or offend me. And that felt natural, too. “It should have worked out,” I said. “We screwed up.”

“What’s done is done.”

I looked at him. “There were times you made a damn good husband.”

Not exactly a knock-down, drag-out scene from a thriller is it? After all, The Blade Of Abraham is about an attempted detonation of a nuclear device in a major American city and the race to prevent it. Page 69 is the end of a chapter. It involves two people: my main character Maxine and her former husband. Max is a retired federal agent who got shot up pretty bad while on a mission and chose to leave after 20 years as a civilian federal agent with the OSI. Her ex has shown up to ask her to come back to work for the government, something she has no desire to do. It’s only when he tells her why they need her back that she must face the choice of risking all that she has left in life or remain safe and secure in her cozy Colorado mountain hideaway.

The basis of this quiet, serine scene is in fact the basic structure of the entire book. A woman is intrigued by a challenge, decides to take it on only to have her life wrecked down to her emotional bedrock. She has to pull herself back up from the depths, meet the challenge, and overcome everything thrown in her way to save not only her own emotional life but the very real lives of millions of innocent people.

Now that I’ve taken the page 69 challenge, how about the rest of you writers out there. Got the guts to show us your page 69 and determine if it exemplifies the heart of your story? Naturally, if page 69 falls on a page with just a couple of lines, you have permission to post page 68 or 70. But the point I’m trying to determine is, does the page 69 test work on your manuscript or published book? If someone picked up your book and only read page 69, would they want to buy it?

And for the readers out there, how about your favorite (or not so favorite) book. Does the page 69 test work for you? Remember, this is only a test. No actual books will be harmed in the writing of this blog.

------------------------------------
THE PHOENIX APOSTLES, coming June 2011
"A compelling page-turner." – Carla Neggers

26 comments:

  1. The following is page 69 of For the Love of a Devil:

    “Not on your pants!” Geoff put Logan down and grabbed the baby wipes. He cleaned up Laurel first, fearing that she would get it on her dress, and then wiped it off of Jesse’s hand. If Geoff hadn’t been watching closely, Jesse would have stepped in the mess while he was trying to clean his hand.

    After handing his kids off to skilled workers, Geoff went to his own class. The teacher had already started the Sunday school lesson. The woman filling out the record book asked, “Is your wife here?”

    “No, I don’t think so.” If she wasn’t there already then she probably wasn’t going to show up. Geoff felt relieved and guilty. He had dreaded what would happen if Heather showed up and people noticed they weren’t sitting together. He wanted to talk to her. He wanted to get things straightened out. He just didn’t want to do it in front of the whole church.

    Geoff remained distracted through the whole lesson. He mostly thought about Heather instead of listening to what the teacher was saying. He remembered that, the last time they had gone to Sunday school together, she had sat beside him and he hadn’t thought that much about it, but with her gone he felt self-conscious. He looked around the room. Everyone else in the room either had a good strong marriage or had always been single. He was the only failure in the room. He was so distracted that they made it halfway through the final prayer before Geoff realized that they were praying and he was supposed to bow his head.

    When he walked into the sanctuary, he saw a head of wavy dish blond hair near where he and Heather always sat. Did Heather expect him to sit somewhere else? Did she want him to sit by her and pretend that nothing had…

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  2. The jacket/cover is the first thing that grabs me. If I pass on the cover I won't be checking out pg. 69.
    Doesn't fit your profile but when I waiver from this the book usually doesn't make it for me. There's only been maybe 3 exceptions.

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  3. Page 69 of HOSTAGE ZERO:

    “Who said anything about torture?” Jimmy asked. “These bruises are from falling down.”

    “Must have been a hell of a fall,” Granville said.

    But the prisoner had shut down. “I know my rights,” he said. “I don’t have to tell you anything without a lawyer.”

    “Who broke you out of here?” Sheriff Willow asked.

    Sergeant Wilson put a hand on his shoulder. “He asked for a lawyer,” she said. “We’re done with questions.”

    With that, it was over.

    Granville stayed with Jimmy as he dressed himself in fresh orange coveralls, and then escorted him back to the cell where his evening had begun only a few hours before. As they walked together down the central hallway, Granville called out to the prison population, “Take a look, gentlemen. You can try to run, but you’ll never get away.” Faces appeared at the windows in cell doors. “Jimmy Henry is back with us after only five hours on the run. He raised all that ruckus, and what did it buy for everyone? Forty eight hours in lockdown. When y’all start going stir crazy in there, I don’t want you getting pissed at me and the other guards. I want you to remember that Jimmy is the one to blame.”

    Jimmy shot him a panicked look, and Granville shook it off. This was the kind of announcement that could get an inmate beaten to shit, but Jimmy should have thought of that before.

    “You’re a kidnapper,” Granville said to his charge as they arrived at his cell door. “And you’re the guy who cost every inmate a lot of privileges. I’d be careful if I was you.” Jimmy’s eye grew large as the truth sank in. “If I was you, I might think about cooperating a little.”

    Something happened behind the kid’s eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it arrived. Fear, maybe? Perhaps just a grim acceptance of what lay ahead. “Well, I tell you what, Deputy George. If I was you, I’d have killed myself a long time ago. Now, why don’t you just quit worrying about me?”

    John Gilstrap
    www.johngilstrap.com

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  4. The page 69 test will be useful to try. I always screen out books by their covers first, back cover blurb second, and then the first few pages. So checking out p. 69 is no big stretch.

    In applying this test to my own manuscript, I gave it about a 50% rating--kind've a yes and no result on the test. Gives me something to work on.

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  5. I've tried the Page 69 test on several books before, including my own. I didn't come to a conclusion about it's accuracy.

    Here is Page 69 of a WIP (To End A War). Caught the beginning of a new chapter.

    The white Impact Video van idled in a parking lot next to Eagles Stadium off Eleventh Street. Smoke curled through a gap in the driver’s window. Bernard sat back with his head pressed against the headrest looking for a black and gold Ford “Eddie Bauer” Explorer. The rest of the day would have to be spot on. No more killing was in the plan, lest the plan be ruined. In less than an hour there would be nothing to do but wait for the next evening. Maybe Lester’s scrummy little wife would be up for a shagging. Watching her through the window last night was stimulating. And Lester didn’t seem to mind when he brought up the subject.

    A big smile swept across Bernard’s face. The thought of Lester with his eyes wide open and struggling for a breath at the mention of shagging his wife aroused him. The whores that he paid money to be with just didn’t do it anymore. They lay there taking it and moaning with fake ecstasy. But Lester’s wife was the real deal. A regular girl next door--

    The Explorer came into view from the Wachovia Center’s employee parking lot. It cruised past Bernard, heading for the service road bordering Interstate 95. He couldn’t make it too obvious, so he waited a few more minutes before pulling up to the security gate.

    “What can I do for you sir?” The security booth sat at the top of the delivery ramp leading to the basement of the complex. The guard looked bored to death.

    “I’m here to see Morris Lashober. I’ve got a quick software upgrade to install for the video board.” Bernard held up the doctored I.D. at a distance so the guard couldn’t see the patch job.

    “I’m sorry, Mr. Lashober just left for lunch.”

    “Damn, I’m sorry about being late, but I’ve got appointments lined up all day. If you don’t mind, I’d like to get started. That way I’ll have the installation done when he gets back.”

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  6. Here's mine from the latest WIP RENDER SAFE:
    “Wait.” Another pause, as if the woman was weighing whether or not to continue. Then she said, “I do have one notation here. Ms. Lambert was released on the same day as another patient, they left together.”

    Sam forced her voice to remain steady. “That patient’s name, ma’am?”

    “Melissa Markland. She’s listed under a San Francisco address too.” The receptionist read it off slowly, with careful enunciation.

    “Thanks so much, ma’am. We really appreciate the help.”

    “Right. Just…if someone asks, it wasn’t…” a note of panic in her voice. “Dr. Strauss takes privacy very seriously, I wouldn’t want to lose my job over this.”

    “Like I said, she’s just a witness. I won’t mention how we tracked her down unless it goes to court.”

    Sam hung up, ignoring the stream of weak protestations filtering through the headset. Perfect—the receptionist would be too terrified of someone discovering what she’d done to mention the conversation to anyone.
    She Googled the address: the intersection of Washington and Spruce. Melissa Markland must come from money too, she thought--that was one of the nicest neighborhoods in town, where the rich and famous lived in palatial estates behind enormous hedges. And it was only a few blocks from the Presidio Gates, ironically enough. Sam debated calling Dylan: she’d bought him a disposable cell phone in a corner store, figuring it would be a way to keep tabs on him in case he started to get squirrelly.

    In the end, she decided against calling. If Nadine was there, she wanted to confront her alone.

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  7. Here's mine from the latest WIP RENDER SAFE:
    “Wait.” Another pause, as if the woman was weighing whether or not to continue. Then she said, “I do have one notation here. Ms. Lambert was released on the same day as another patient, they left together.”

    Sam forced her voice to remain steady. “That patient’s name, ma’am?”

    “Melissa Markland. She’s listed under a San Francisco address too.” The receptionist read it off slowly, with careful enunciation.

    “Thanks so much, ma’am. We really appreciate the help.”

    “Right. Just…if someone asks, it wasn’t…” a note of panic in her voice. “Dr. Strauss takes privacy very seriously, I wouldn’t want to lose my job over this.”

    “Like I said, she’s just a witness. I won’t mention how we tracked her down unless it goes to court.”

    Sam hung up, ignoring the stream of weak protestations filtering through the headset. Perfect—the receptionist would be too terrified of someone discovering what she’d done to mention the conversation to anyone.
    She Googled the address: the intersection of Washington and Spruce. Melissa Markland must come from money too, she thought--that was one of the nicest neighborhoods in town, where the rich and famous lived in palatial estates behind enormous hedges. And it was only a few blocks from the Presidio Gates, ironically enough. Sam debated calling Dylan: she’d bought him a disposable cell phone in a corner store, figuring it would be a way to keep tabs on him in case he started to get squirrelly.

    In the end, she decided against calling. If Nadine was there, she wanted to confront her alone.

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  8. I just did the page 69 test on the second draft version of my fantasy novel. Definitely a good sample of the rest of the book! Then again I might be biased.

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  9. Joe, I liked your sample up until your used the word "eggs". After that I had to stop reading :)

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  10. Hey Timothy, thanks for sharing your page 69. Lots of internal conflict there. I hope you agree that this can be a good test for determining if someone wants to read or not.

    Mary, your test is a sound one. I’ve gone that route many times. The cover has to grab me.

    Thanks for posting your page 69, John. Conflict, conflict and conflict—it’s all there.

    BK, it’s just another method of making quick judgment in the bookstore. Try it next time you’re there. Might be surprised.

    Wilfred, thanks for posting your page 69. I liked your sample. Naturally, it’s a roll of the dice that page 69 will always reveal the heart of your story. But, in theory, it should. Good luck with the book.

    Michelle, you’ve got a big dose of tension here. If I picked this book up and read page 69, I’d have to keep going.

    Jeroen, biased or not, if you think page 69 would tell a potential reader enough to buy the book, then mission accomplished.

    Hey Matthew, sorry that delicious omelet got in the way. Thanks for trying.

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  11. Good post, Joe. Here's page 69 from my WIP, working title SHEPHERD:

    “Look. I don't know how long you've been on the department, but you're probably the only person around here who doesn't know me. Call Deputy Webb. She'll vouch for me.”

    “How long will you be in the county, Mr. Shepherd?”

    “Let's see. I've got to visit my mother, take care of the details of my father's death, see a few friends. Then, I don't know, maybe I'll bomb the Dairy Queen while I'm here.”

    His expression didn't change. Neither did his voice. “I fail to see the humor in that comment, sir.”

    “And I fail to see why you stopped me, Deputy.”

    He looked both directions toward the road, then leaned closer into the window. “Mr. Shepherd, why are you being so uncooperative?”

    I looked into his mirrored glasses. “So that's how we're playing this? Crawford send you out here?”

    “Why would Sheriff Crawford send me out here?”

    “A little harassment, to discourage any ideas I might have?”

    “Have you been drinking, Mr. Shepherd?”

    I didn't see that coming. “What?”

    “Have you been drinking?”

    Keep your cool, Jake, don't give this idiot anything. “I don't drink. Never have.”

    “You were driving pretty erratic back there.”

    I could see where this was going. “I swerved to avoid a rabbit. Like I said, I don't drink.”

    He stepped back. “Step out of the car, please.”

    I stared at him. “You've got to be kidding.”

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  12. I've seen this, or the page 99 test, or various similar things, for quite a while. I have to admit I don't get it. I'm that odd duck that doesn't even read the back cover until after I've read the book. I'm strictly a page one, word one reader.

    If the author had wanted me to have the information on page 69 first, it would be on page one. I'll read it when I get to it where the author put it.

    On the other hand, I have no problem with people approaching my books any way they want to. I just don't get it. Page 99 of my third novel, Jillian's Gold, is up at POD People, and the only reason I didn't fall prey to the temptation to put it here is because it's a bit off-market here, not being a thriller in the common sense (although it's got a gruesome hammer murder). Go ahead, twist my arm -- I'll post it if you want it.

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  13. Joe - as i read your sample i assumed the character voice was male. Was reinforced by the name Max.

    Assumed and slightly jarred by what I recognized as a homosexual pair (Not that there's anything wrong with that!).

    Wonder if other readers had the same impression. Glad you have not changed genres though perhaps GLBT thriller may be a great market.

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  14. Strange. My previous comment has disappeared. See what happens when you drop enough bombs?

    I made reference to a site that has several of these tests, including two of my own, here.

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. Now that I'm sampling books through the Kindle, I probably won't be able to check out page 69. How technology changes things.

    Here's page 69 from my last book, MAKEOVERS CAN BE MURDER:

    "No, but I know who was behind the whole thing. It was my stepfather, Gavin. Maybe he even wanted us both dead. I wouldn't put anything past him."

    Her accusation shocked me. "Shaina, I know your mother and Gavin had problems, but why do you think he had anything to do with--"

    "It was Gavin, I'm telling you. He did it to get her money before she could divorce him. It was Gavin. Gavin!" With each repetition of the name, Shaina's volume and pitch rose until she was practically screaming.

    At that moment the nurse reappeared at the doorway. In tow behind her was a tall and kindly looking woman wearing a white doctor's coat. The doctor moved swiftly to Shaina's bedside.

    "Shaina? I'm Doctor Sanders," she announced. "The nurse is going to give you something to make you feel a bit more relaxed, and then you're going to sleep for a while."

    As the nurse prepared a syringe, Shaina writhed on the bed, moaning and calling for her mother.

    The doctor caught my eye and motioned for me to step outside the room. She followed me into the hallway and said, "I appreciate your being here, but it's best for Shaina to simply sleep right now. Her stepfather is on his way here right now."

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  17. Page 69 of 65 Below finds us in a pub in Plymouth, England with a couple Royal Marines and our hero Marcus “Mojo” Johnson, USMC.

    The Red Dog Public House, two blocks west of the main gate of the Plymouth Royal Navy Base, was a regular hangout for Royal Marines both current and former. Anyone was welcome, even civilians—as long, that is, as they said nothing derogatory or defaming about the Royal Marines and could tolerate the loud, crude humor of a hundred or more commandos whose spirits soared on beer and whisky.
    A single round of drinks for the boys meant that Marcus bought the promised one pint of ale for everyone in the company who showed up that night—which, as it turned out, was all of the one hundred and twenty men of Mike Company, 43 Commando. At a cost of two British pounds a pint, $3.35 American, the tab grew considerable quite fast.
    Near midnight, the company filed out, except for Johnson, Sergeant Barclay, and Colour Sergeant Smoot. The three of them sat at a table in the back of the pub and chatted over the vast commonalities they shared. Barclay, a single man who enlisted in the RMC the same year Marcus had in the USMC, had been in Norway at the same time as Marcus in the late eighties, and although they had never met while there, they did both know many of the same people and places.
    Colour Sergeant Smoot, whose rank was the English equivalent of Johnson’s gunnery sergeant stripes, had served as a troop leader during Desert Storm and afterwards had been through the USMC Scout Sniper School at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, USA, a course Marcus had taught shortly before his deployment to Bosnia the previous year.
    Smoot was thirty-eight years old and divorced with eighteen-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, who were just starting their first year of university studies. He had been in the Corps for twenty years already and was up for regimental sergeant major in the next selection phase. It was a promotion he half-hoped not to get, fearing it would only serve to give his ex-wife more money to waste on her boyfriends.
    “She was a bit of a tart to begin with,” he said. “I should’ve seen it. I mean, she slept with me the very night we met. I got her preggers within the first month we were dating, and we were wed a week later, me on a Marine 1st Class bankroll. We were always broke and I was always gone off on this or that duty. Every time I was home, it was as if I was a nuisance, like I was interrupting something. It was fifteen years of pure marital hell with her. I do love my kids, though, and they love me—at least, they act like it. My son says he wants to be a Naval officer. Can you believe that? The son of a Marine sergeant, becoming a bloody admiral!”

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  18. Dave, like others here, your page 69 is also filled with tension. I assume that’s what we can expect with the rest of the book-—my kind of story.

    Hey Levi, I’ll admit it’s not an exact science. But I think the general feeling is that 69 pages into a book should serve as a snapshot to reveal at least the pulse of the story if not the heart. Naturally, an author would want the reader to read every page starting with page one. But this exercise is alot like shoving a thermometer into a steak on the grill. If the temp at that point of entry shows that it’s medium rare, there’s a good chance the rest of the steak will be, too. Thanks for commenting.

    TJC, just trying to keep you on your toes and make sure you’re paying attention.

    Jim, thanks for the links. Everybody, go read Jim’s page 69 samples and meet back here later.

    Thanks for the page 69 samples Kathryn and Basil. In both cases, I would have wanted to keep reading.

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  19. From Page 68-9 of "Nerve Damage" WIP

    Kevin stood crutch propped, heaving and lurching; the goons laughing in his face.

    Time stretched. Drake's vision tunneled and edges sharpened. All was tinged as if through a red filter.His body was a bow with the arrow fully drawn.

    Piggy-eyes grabbed for the crutches as Drake turned and grasping Kevin’s upper arms lowered him to the curb. He grasped the left crutch, slipping the aluminum forearm ring support off of Kevin’s arm. Piggy was yanking on the right crutch, dragging Kevin, his laughter cruel. Kevin’s eyes pinwheeled, the whites showing large. His face contorted as he resisted. “Nuh-nuh-NOO!” Piggy raised his foot and directed the sole of his boot towards Kevin’s head.

    The crutch made a whistling sound as it sliced through the air. The upper portion, where Kevin’s forearms had worn away the electro-plated blue to the native silver, struck Piggy-eyes in the middle of his face. The sound of the impact was that of an axe biting into a hardwood log. Piggy-eyes pitched backwards, his collapsed nose and midface a volcano of blood.

    Drake pivoted, shifting his grip, grabbing the now bent and gore-soiled crutch ring and drove the support, tip first, with all his strength, into the gut of the second. An explosive “Oooofff!” and the second assailant jack-knifed to the ground, arms hugging gut, legs bicycling in the air.

    Drake shot a glance towards Kevin as the third lunged forward unleashing a massive swing. The blow landed cleanly catching Drake near the point of the chin. He heard the impact, a meaty thok, as if it were elsewhere. A lightning bolt of pain struck home as the taste of pennies filled his mouth.
    He sensed he was on his back, away from Kevin. He slid toward unconsciousness, blackness reaching. He willed himself back. The puncher was on him, straddling his chest and pounding Drake’s face.

    Drake’s right hand penetrated the cascade of punches and found the attacker’s throat. He closed his fist. As the blows rained down Drake squeezed.

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  20. I think this is my first comment on this blog. Below is page 69 of my wip TO SEE THE SUN, due out April 2012.

    "And I said I don't think that's a good idea right now."

    And those words from Clay fanned the flames of her barely banked hurt and anger. "What do you mean you don't think it's a good idea?" She fought to keep her seat. Every impulse told her to attack.

    "Erin, think a minute," clay said. "Here you are on the twenty-seventh floor of a high-rise condominium. On the Strip! You've got top-notch security, a private elevator . . . you're as safe up here as the Dalai Lama.

    Erin forced back an involuntary smile as her over-active imagination compared her condo to the snowy peaks protecting the Tibetan monk. But she banished the image as fast as it appeared and she zeroed in on Clay.

    "And what makes you think I would allow you to tell me where I can live?"

    "Erin, hold on." Doug's peacemaker tone, usually soothing and welcome, did nothing for her right now. She ignored him, keeping her gaze pinned on Clay.

    He scrubbed a hand down his face. "I understand your reasons behind wanting to move out of here and they are valid ones. But you have been followed around the world for the past four month," he said with exaggerated patience. "And, if the picture of the wreck and the cryptic message you just received are any indication, you are still being followed." He placed his elbows on the table and leaned forward. "And this time it's not just jotting things down on a calendar. Whoever is doing this is coming out of hiding."

    Okay, that got her attention. A shiver of fear shot up her spine. But that didn't change her mind.

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  21. I can't post page 69 of my WIP because it has both the "F" and "C" words. Sorry.

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  22. TJC, thanks for sharing your page 69. Great title, BTW. And lots of action.

    Peggy, thanks so much for visiting TKZ and posting your page 69. Obviously, there’s plenty of conflict to go around on this sample page.

    Miller, do you mean feathers and chickens? That kind of fowl language is always welcome here.

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  23. I think the reason we see so much conflict on all of these page 69s is because page 69 tends to be close to the end of the area of the book where we define the problem, but it is still before the protagonist decides what to do about the problem. I’m sure a reader looking for a book will always have the blind men with an elephant problem, but I can see where it could be easy to make the wrong assumption about a book if page 69 is all we have. We usually talk about stories in terms of what is done about the problem rather than the problem itself.

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  24. Excellent analysis, Timothy. In most cases, that's exactly where page 69 should fall. But I'll bet a few more folks will try it next time they go to the bookstore. If nothing else, it's fun. Heck, maybe it is a parlor trick. :-)

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  25. Part of page 69 from THE TAKE.

    Garner told a joke. As he delivered the punch line with perfect timing, he jabbed an elbow into Eddie's side while Eddie forced a nod and a chuckle. Garner added through his laughter, "Besides, Eddie, your sister's a whole lot better lookin' than you are."

    Felina jumped in from the other side, grabbing Eddie's arm. "Oh, I don't know about that," she said.

    "No," said Linda, her body stiffening. "I don't think you do."

    "Well," she replied, "it's pretty obvious which one in the family has the looks." She nuzzled Eddie, rubbing a round breast against his arm.

    "Right. Same one that's got the brains," Linda shot back.

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  26. Miller, one would think it logical and likely that page 69 would contain either the F & C word themselves, or a derivitave thereof.

    And that doesn't offend me in the least. I love fudge and cookies.

    ooooh....shouldn'a skipped lunch

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