WHAT NETHERWORLD’S PAGE 99 SAYS ABOUT THE BOOK AS A WHOLE
This is temporarily page 99, as the final formatting hasn’t been done, but it works well enough to prove (test) the hypothesis: is this page a satisfactory example of the book as a whole, from the author’s (me) point of view?
Minor but recurring characters are a consistent way of looking at a main character, and this is a very good example, so I’m glad it ended up in the Page 99 position.
Kary has no choice but to go see her lawyer, Joseph Farentz, Esq., whom she originally met at a CFS support group meeting when she moved to New Hampshire – when what she needs isn’t something she can get quickly, and she knows that he can. He is very proud he is still working – even though they share a major illness – as a small-town lawyer. She knows how reduced his abilities are and how limited the time he can keep it up, but accepts him at his own valuation, as she does most people. He has indicated interest in her several times, but she is interested only in keeping him as a friend, and has consistently found a gentle way to turn his attentions down without affecting his ego.
Based on the earlier part of the story, we are about to see what it might take to safely get Kary out of her rural retreat and off to any kind of an adventure: the signature on the papers is that of a famous director who heard about her involvement with Bianca’s screenplay, will be directing Andrew’s next movie, and wants her to come advise on it because his Indian costar’s wife is a big fan of Kary’s novels.
Kary knows it makes no sense – and she couldn’t possibly – but… the hook is baited just right, and she’s very tempted.
Because one of her problems is that everyone seems to have an opinion on what she can do. And she’d rather make those decisions herself, though usually in the negative (first line on page).
I like the Page 99 test.*
Except for posting an updated Page 69 and Page 99 test pages when the formatting finalizes what these would be for NETHERWORLD, I won’t be doing any more of these until LIMBO is written, but it was fun, and allowed me to look at the concept of making sure ALL pages are in some way representative of the novel, the story, and my writing.
If you’re a writer, have you ever tried these on your own work?
If you’re a reader, what will you think the effect on you will be as you get to these pages? I’d love the feedback.
Yes, I’m working on it.
No, this isn’t really a distraction. Think of it instead as ‘freshening.’ And if you don’t know what that is on a farm, go look it up. Another interesting word that says a lot.
And now I’m all interested in getting the final text to the formatter – to see where page 99 ends up – my ‘reason’ for playing with the new toy.
*I still recommend the test and the blog, but am sad to say SPAs are not welcome to apply, though it took some doing to find that out, as it isn’t mentioned.
This test comes from Ford Maddox Ford, again via the Campaign for the American Reader blog, but is a different way of assessing a book, and may well be apocryphal, as mentioned in his Page 99 Test post on Aug. 6, 2014, by R. John Williams, Yale professor and author of The Buddha in the Machine.*
In THIS test, Marshal Zeringue asks authors, ‘whether Page 99 reveals “the quality of the whole” about their books.’
That’s a little harder, and the authors who speak about their P. 99 implications have wide and varying opinions about it.
Why is it harder?
Because authors have somehow picked up the notion that they are supposed to let other people – interviewers, reviewers, readers – comment about their work, not themselves, or at least not themselves praising the book.
It means putting my opinions of my own work on record.
Specifically, whether this one page – 99 – is a good way to display the ‘quality’ of the whole.
Funny how that makes my stomach unhappy.
I much prefer the nice comments from reviewers (and usually have no trouble ignoring the less-nice ones).
I’m going to do it anyway
Never waste a good prompt is my motto.
Parental rules to my generation from our parents were meant to keep us from turning into the loud-mouthed, self-centered kid we could have become, because it would mean our parents hadn’t reared us correctly. ‘Children are meant to be seen, not heard,‘ is part and parcel of the same.
I don’t think these rules are followed quite as much any more, but, for example, I never knew my mother thought I had turned out okay until, as a grownup with three children back on a visit to Mexico, I happened to tell her I never felt I had met her exacting standards, and she replied something like, “That’s ridiculous! I brag about you to my friends all the time.”
That was the key. She never told us. And the eldest child does have the tendency to try to please, especially if she’s a girl. I think my four younger sisters figured it out, but they didn’t really leave home (Mexico City) and not come back, as I did.
We had no brothers; I suspect it would have been different, possibly worse, if we had.
I don’t think they meant anything bad by rearing us to enter polite society modestly, when it was our turn, but I was already the odd daughter, the one who wanted to be a scientist, and the nerve endings were exaggeratedly exposed.
Self-promotion is an absolute requirement for indie authors
Many of us aren’t so happy with that part of self-publishing, or maybe it’s only those of use who were older when we started writing.
Or even possibly I missed a lot of changes because, as a Person with ME/CFS, there was little energy left for me and my own concerns after the family got what I wanted them to have from me.
So, do I think that page 99 of PURGATORY reveals the quality of the whole book?
It reveals a lot of the main relationship: Andrew has come to visit for the first time, taking Kary up on a casual offer to drop in if he was in her neighborhood (rural New Hampshire vs. where they met in New York City on Night Talk). The only reason she got a bit of advance warning – less than a minute – was that, due to an overly-aggressive fan, she has had a gate installed at the bottom of her drive, and he had to speak into the CCTV and ask permission to ride his motorcycle up her mountain retreat; otherwise, he would have knocked at her door!
This scene is in Andrew’s point of view (pov), and we haven’t heard from him until this chapter after they said goodbye in NY at the end of Chapter 3.
In the intervening time, Kary was moved to take in the movie Roland, based on the medieval epic poem The Song of Roland, which was the reason he was on the talk show, and was blown away, whereas, being basically a recluse, she’d had no idea who he was when she met him. So their entire relationship is being torn down and replaced though neither of them know it.
The novel has many such accidentally-fraught encounters, each one showing the characters’ behavior under unexpected stressors. And how each character’s inner and outer lives complement each other.
Does this page 99 show off the whole?
It shows Kary’s self-control under extraordinary circumstances – a result of her medical training as a former physician: ‘Never let them see you uncertain.’
I know what is going to happen in scenes – I’m an extreme plotter – but not how, and it’s been fun to essentially listen to the characters to see what they do with my stage directions.
I love that this page has a good example of working characters – so many novel characters don’t seem to do much, but work takes a huge portion of most real people’s lives. They discuss their work – but expectations and reality are at odds.
And it lets a changing inanimate object, the fire in her fireplace, take one of its many mood-setting opportunities. I didn’t grow up with a working fireplace, but after I left home, my parents moved, and the new house’s massive fireplace was used in so many warm gatherings they were almost not complete without a fire (houses in Mexico City usually have neither heating nor air-conditioning, and can be chilly, especially in winter months).
It gives a nod to the relationship between writers and actors which is fundamental to the novels: each asks about the other’s work. She’s been writing earlier, he (and his feet) came from a morning of filming locally. Each is cagey, neither takes the bait to speak at length about themself.
In the whole, I think it does
represent the whole: two of the three main characters, a developing relationship, the settled homestead of the rooted character, the peripatetic nature of a working actor, and something of me as the author.
Not bad for one page!
If I am allowed to say so myself.
*I still recommend the test and the blog, but am sad to say SPAs are not welcome to apply, though it took some doing to find that out, as it isn’t mentioned.
If you’ve read Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, was there enough memorable about Andrew’s first visit that you remembered it?
Had you noticed the recurring fires?
Does this scene make you smile?
What do you think of books where no one seems to be employed?
Did you ever think anyone could make a movie out of The Song of Roland? Did it remind you at all of El Cantar del Mío Cid?
APPLYING Temporary p. 69 TO NETHERWORLD: a preview for readers
This is labeled Temporary for one reason: I don’t have the final formatted version of NETHERWORLD, so this might not even be p. 69 in the final version, but it will serve nicely as a placeholder for now.
This time it was that it is EASY in the new editor to get an image into a post – create an image block, and just hit CTRL v to paste the image in.
For some reason, I can no longer update my Media Library the was I thought I could, but pasting is MUCH simpler than that, and this post has the image!
It’s a screenshot, so a bit rough.
Problem temporarily solved? Who cares? Twill serve for now.
Temporary p. 69:
This page turned out to be centered on Andrew getting back to Ireland for a too-short visit before heading off to… India! to film another movie.
Andrew is talking to his agent, Maury, on the phone, as the page starts:
Andrew is in Ireland, where he’s used some of his movie salary to add a nice recording studio to the family farm
His band – The Deadly Nightshades – has gathered for a rare recording session, since he’s now seldom home
George, his long-time mate who was his manager during PURGATORY but moved home to help with the family farm (and married his Fiona, with Andrew as Best Man), makes an appearance in NETHERWORLD, the only one until the next volume
Maury Gibbs, Andrew’s agent, interrupted the session
Reality is intruding, hard: Andrew spends little time in Ireland – and the band is suffering; a planned CD is not moving very fast
Andrew wants everything – and it isn’t possible
I’ll replace/add the actual p.69 when I have it – soon!
Still a very useful test, I’d say.
Watch this blog – things are finally starting to happen.
When you grow up in two countries, and on top of that get STEM degrees, you miss a few things other people take for granted.
I was perusing an SFF blog I follow, Weighing a pig doesn’t fatten it(highly recommended), I came across a link to another blog, Campaign for the American Reader, (highly recommended) and the Page 69 test. Follow the link for the details, which credit the idea to Marshall McLuhan via John Sutherland’s How to read a novel.
Basically, ignore everything else – cover, blurbs, descriptions, reviews, recommendations, etc. – open the actual novel to page 69, and make your decisions based on a single sample page deep enough into the novel to be characteristic.
Being self-centered, I immediately grabbed my paperback copy of PURGATORY, and applied the test to my own work.
And was actually quite chuffed to find it works very nicely as a sample page that covers many of the threads that run through the novel!
For some reason, WordPress is telling me this post does not exist. So, just to be stubborn, I’m going to try publishing it – in which case you might see it.
If not, I’ll eventually win. Possibly it didn’t like me adding a screenshot.
Well, there it is
I think I won – must have confused something inside WordPress, but it let me publish, so I’ll add a few more words.
A reference to the show, Night Talk, where the story starts, and the receipt of a DVD of that episode from Dana Lewiston, the host (a recurring character)
How a main character talks to herself – she lives alone
Why she was on a talk show in the first place: as a person with CFS
A reference to a recent episode where an irate fan almost gained entry to Kary’s home – with intent to force her to retract something he read into one of her books
And why Kary’s homestead now has a locked gate at the bottom of her mountain.
Hope that’s enough to intrigue, and, of course, you get a taste of my stylistic choices.
I like this Page 69 test. When I have one for NETHERWORLD, I’ll put it up, too. I hope very soon.
They start out not existing – an idea, notes, thoughts, bits of characterization are not a book (ask anyone who writes).
And then, for me, such a long time goes by before all the organization and notes start to take on form, even though I tell people that Pride’s Children was vouchsafed to me as a unit, with basically all of the major plot points, and the three main characters, and some of the setting coming as a finished story, one I would have read if it had been available.
But that day in 2000 is over twenty years in the past, and, though I’ve worked on the tangible form continuously, it’s been slow going.
PURGATORY was proof
of principle, of the ability to create something that wasn’t there, of the ability to learn how to write, somehow, to the standards of the vast reading background of writers good and bad and in between.
I did that – in late 2015.
I learned every single step in the process between idea and having an ebook and print book available for sale on Amazon. Every speck of that is me.
I had support. And mentoring when I asked for it. The internet is wonderfully supportive for writers who ask questions nicely and have done the work.
I found my cover mentor – J.M. Ney-Grimm – and my beta reader – Rachel Roy Gavris – online, on writer’s sites. I am eternally grateful for their advice and help.
The second book is another kind of proof
The world is full of people who had a very hard time creating the second book. It’s a cliche in traditional publishing: writer debuts to acclaim (the book was written over many years, or in school) – and cannot seem to write another (time pressures, deadlines, expectations). It even has a name: ‘the sophomore slump.’
And now NETHERWORLD exists
The complete story, from a continuation of the faux New Yorker article that begins it, through epigraphs and chapter titles, to ‘TO BE CONCLUDED’ at the very end of Chapter 40, promising the end of the story, the third book of the trilogy, as soon as I can write it (you don’t want to see the very rough draft).
Its cover is in my head. I have a title and cover for the third book, but am not sure I’m ready to commit, so I’ll call ‘LIMBO (& PARADISE?)’ or just ‘LIMBO’ a working title, and see how it goes.
I have a very long list of steps to take for NETHERWORLD, and it’s a little daunting how little I remember from last time, and how the publishing parts may have changed in the interim so I will have to start from scratch on some things.
The good part? Since I work only in finished scenes, and my beta reader processes each chapter as I finish it, the text is final. The editing and proofing is done as I go, and is not a long task ahead of me fraught with potential pitfalls, but a finished chore.
The years of writing, moving cross-country and fitting into a new community, getting back to writing – are finished, too. This is it – our forever home. I may even eventually get plants on the balcony (the writing has been more important up until now).
There is a lot of work to do
This post is part of girding my writing loins to do all those missing steps, from registering a final copy with the Library of Congress, through learning the new Pixelmator version to turn the cover in my head into one on the page, to figuring out again how to run the text from Scrivener through Word to Amazon, this time adding a hard cover version for both books because it is available, and exploring Large Print.
I did the obvious: I’ve contacted various companies for help with formatting and covers – which I would rather pay for than do – but I haven’t found one yet that will do it my way. After several months of looking, I give up. I’m too persnickety, too opinionated, and not the least interested in them putting my second book through one of their templates. And have been told that the covers proposed wouldn’t be similar and they can’t use my fonts.
I should have expected that – but I did have hopes I might be able to get someone else to do the hard work part, and now I don’t. It will, again, take me less time, and cause me less stress, not to try to get other people to do what I want.
It’s entirely MY fault.
So be it.
At least I can say that, when you get one of my books, it’s all me. For whatever it’s worth.
ARCs out into the world
I don’t know when I will have NETHERWORLD available as an ARC for those who are willing to CONSIDER writing reviews, but it’s high on the list.
I have signed up for BookSprout to manage the review copies and reviews – if interested, check it out; it’s set up for a campaign for PURGATORY right now, and I hope some people will read and review it in preparation for reading and reviewing NETHERWORLD. Accounts are free, of course, for readers.
I just thought you’d like to know.
Should mention here that the time between final text and publication is typically 18-24 MONTHS for traditionally-published novels; I doubt it will take me more than 3.
Entertainment which will fill a large number of hours.
My best writing.
Not to stop until the story is exactly what I want it to be.
Because there won’t be that many from me – I am too slow.
What do other authors promise you?
Aside from their books, other authors seem to be promising more and more these days:
Their presence in person at a conference on a panel.
Their Tik Tok or Book Tok videos.
Their FaceBook pages.
Their bookmarks and book plates and tote bags and the ability to purchase artwork of your favorite characters and cosplay costumes and…
Even their voice on your answering machine (go to Cameo and search).
I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t.
Self-published AND traditionally published authors are having to do more marketing and merchandising and promotion – to stand out in a world where everything flashes and glitters and moves.
Each new thing I can’t do bemuses me more.
I see the rationale – and I’m now farther behind in ‘doing what I should’ than I was when I started writing.
But what do you really need from your books?
To be dragged away to a same/different universe where you can live another life/lives and come back having been someone else for a long while.
You need something that will stick with you long after you close the book.
You need a story.
You need characters you care about living something that makes you want to go with them.
You want surprises, and implausibles turned into possibles, and to know that sometimes the good guys win.
You want something that will drag you back down into its depths if you are foolish enough to open it and start reading (I’ve tried to ‘study’ GWTW a number of times, to see how Margaret Mitchell does it, only to find myself immersed in the story and reading for hours again).
You want something that is uniquely your experience crafted out of the author’s half on the page, because care was given to making sure you are a participant and not an observer.
You want to find YOUR authors, the ones who do this to you.
The more common quote is ‘Be careful what you wish for – you might get it.’
I have used ‘ask’ for a very specific reason, and this is one of those quotations that are attributed to many in its different varieties, but are not attributable in a particular form to a written source.
A bit of meaningless numerology that amused me: Chapter 38 came in at 8,819 words, but when I went to add that to my running total, I got 177,777 words, and it made me think of a car’s odometer rolling over.
As I said, easily amused.
Each of the novels is twenty chapters, and, as I have numbered them consecutively from Book 1, Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, you can see I’m two chapters – six scenes – short of the end of NETHERWORLD, and even I’m getting excited to write the final form of these scenes.
The end is both a satisfying conclusion to this part of the story, and the beginning of the final part, and has its own theme.
PURGATORY’s theme was friendship, especially the rarer kind of friendship between a man and a woman.
Booksprout.co will be managing my Advanced Reader Copies
I’m trying something new for this year: letting Booksprout get involved in the process of obtaining more reviews for the novels, and, I hope, providing me access to some reviewers I wouldn’t otherwise have any way of contacting.
It’s a trial basis, and may not be the best way to get new reviewers, since that depends on their database including readers for mainstream fiction, but it also will make it a bit more convenient for me in getting the ARCs to reviewers and in listing the results. I’ve been doing that all by hand, one lovely reviewer at a time, and it takes time, time I don’t mind, but time I could use doing the only job no one can take on for me – writing.
Up until now my approach has been to find readers whose reviews indicate they like similar books, and to craft individual letters. I love the results, and have met many people I now consider friends online (not the wrong kind of friends, Amazon!).
But word of mouth is slow because I’m slow, and only adds reviews when I have a bit of extra time that I can’t use for the writing directly.
We’ll see how it goes, and I’m still here and will handle any requests or problems personally, so that won’t change.
The reason I have non-writing time
these last two days is that, as one of the throng of the immunocompromised, I got my 4th shot, and second booster, of the Moderna vaccine – and yesterday was flu-like, but today I have a sore upper arm (not bad) and a general feeling of not being at the top of my usual game, so I’ve been doing a few other tasks.
Can’t wait to get back to 39.1.
All I’ve been contending with is reviewers who don’t accept self-published work but phrase it differently. I told one such – who may or may not change their mind – that self-published books hold up half the sky (probably a bigger proportion of TOTAL books).
Chapter 37 is finished, at 9,274 words for the chapter, 168,958 words total.
NETHERWORLD covers Chapters 21 through 40 in this story.
Since I work only in finished scenes, this means there are only ten scenes left in Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD, and I’m getting excited – the last nine are scenes I’ve been looking forward to writing since 2000.
The title of this post is the title of the chapter.
Remember what happened when Icarus did it? Thought so.
I’ve updated the Table of Contents.
I have the cover worked out in my head after some serious thinking about how the three volumes will work together, and, as a bonus, have the idea of the third volume’s cover also percolating but basically decided. The covers will be posted as I get them close to finished.
And the minute all this is published, I will go to the following morning in the story and plunge right into Book #3 of the trilogy – the one that will end the whole story. I hope it will go faster than the 15 and 7 years of the first two.
Advance Reader Copies for reviewers
If you reviewed PURGATORY, I will write to you to see if you would like an electronic ARC of NETHERWORLD to read and review.
If you would like to review NETHERWORLD, but haven’t reviewed PURGATORY, feel free to contact me. I think it’s best to read PURGATORY before reading NETHERWORLD, as the latter starts just a few days after the first one, but they do stand alone even though they share the same main characters, and many secondary ones.
ARCs are extremely close to the finished product; I prefer not to send out unfinished work!
Indies Today have just released their awards for the year 2021 books, and Pride’s Children PURGATORY has been named the Best Contemporary Book. (see new shiny badge!)
My thanks to the judges for their consideration, and I hope many more readers will take the trip with Kary, Andrew, and Bianca through the intersection between Hollywood and the world of writing, especially now that publication is getting very close for the second book in the trilogy, NETHERWORLD.
Again, a big thank you to Jennifer Jackson for her wonderful review. (click on badge!)
I fought with WordPress’ formatting in the current theme (Twenty Eleven), so that I could post the Table of Contents and the beginning of Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD.
It is possible to read this scene (though it might make a bit more sense otherwise) without having read PURGATORY; there are no major spoilers.
I would still recommend reading the first book first, especially since it’s 0.99* (and worldwide equivalents) in ebook until January 20, 2022, but I’m not the reading police, and each book stands alone reasonably well.
Plus you can see my writing style.
And have a bit more of Andrew’s snark.
And I don’t have Book #2 finished yet, and y’all know I’m slow if well-intentioned.
It will remind previous readers of the beginning of Book #1 – as we’re back on Night Talk with Dana the shark.
Watch the NETHERWORLD tab – under construction.
*An easy way to keep a writer motivated, and now an inexpensive stocking stuffer.