Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pg. 69: "Scandal"

Julie Kistler is the author of 30 romance novels and other works. She won the Madcap Award for the best romantic comedy of 2001 for Just a Little Fling and she was nominated for Romance Writers of America's Rita Award for Black Jack Brogan.

Her latest novel is Scandal, which she was kind enough to put to the "page 69 test." Here's what she discovered:
Scandal was written for Harlequin’s Blaze line, and they’re intended to be hot and spicy reads. Not in a cookbook way, but in an R-rated, adult content way, with sex as a major part of the romance. That isn’t something that necessarily lends itself to taking one out-of-context page as your entire experience with the book.

So I was happy to peel open Scandal’s page 69 and conclude that, while its content is probably a little racy, it’s more in a funny way than an OH MY GOD, TELL GRANDMA TO COVER HER EYES! sort of way. I think.

I don’t know that this applies to each and every page, but my feeling (before I looked at individual pages) was that pretty much any scene chosen at random ought to accomplish certain things in a book like this. Those would be:

1. Some idea of the plot (in this case a time travel romance where my heroine finds herself launched back to the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893)
2. Some definition of the characters
3. A sense of humor, and
4. Enough sexy bits to make it clear that it deserves to be a Blaze.

I‘ve concluded that page 69 of Scandal does all of that, if you know what you’re looking for. My heroine, Jordan, goes back in time when she falls under a piece of sculpture – a marble arch – carved with erotic figures from Greek mythology. On page 69, she happens to be accidentally resting against that arch, with her hand at the place where Narcissus is getting what she, as a woman of the New Millennium, calls “a blow job.” The two characters’ reactions to that should make it clear that he’s from 1893 and she’s not, plus I think it’s at least mildly funny and sexy, AND it highlights her method of transport back in time.

Not bad for one page!

Here’s most of that page, with an extra line from page 70 that finishes it off:

…She sagged in relief against the cool marble, bracing herself against one side.

Across from her, Nick clenched his jaw. He seemed to be staring at her arm. "Miss Albright, would you mind?" He waved a hand. "You'll probably want to move away from the, uh..."

She followed the path of his gaze. What she saw was her own hand, resting about an inch from a perfectly carved, fully erect penis. Not only was that definitely an erection, but there was a female face carved in stone right next to it, eager to pounce.

Her fingers burning, Jordan yanked back her hand. "Oh. Narcissus and the blow job. Well."

"I'm not familiar with the term, but... Yes. That." He shook his head fiercely, looking about as uncomfortable as Jordan felt. "Damn Isabella! What was she thinking? And how does she know enough about that to have carved it for posterity?"

"But you see," Jordan tried, "that's why Isabella is important. Not the, uh, blow job specifically, but the idea of women owning their own sexuality. That's so crucial."

He didn't say anything, but she saw the question in the sardonic lift of one dark brow. Do you own your sexuality?

Yes, yes, I do, she wanted to shout. But I'm willing to share it with you!
Many thanks to Julie for the input.

Read an excerpt from Scandal.

Julie's 2004 novel Packing Heat was nominated for Romantic Times' Best Temptation of the Year.

In addition to winning the 2001 Madcap Award for Romantic Comedy, Just a Little Fling was a Waldenbooks Bestseller (2000).

Calling Mr. Right (2000) was nominated for Romantic Times' Best Duets of the Year.

And there are more awards and rave quotes.

Visit Julie's website.

Previous "page 69 tests:"
Robert Ward, Four Kinds of Rain
Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist
William Landay, The Strangler
Kate Holden, In My Skin
Brian Wansick, Mindless Eating
Noria Jablonski, Human Oddities
Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity
Neal Pollack, Alternadad
Bella DePaulo, Singled Out
Steve Hamilton, A Stolen Season
Eric Klinenberg, Fighting for Air
Donna Moore, ...Go to Helena Handbasket
Louis Bayard, The Pale Blue Eye
Neal Thompson, Riding with the Devil
Sherry Argov, Why Men Marry Bitches
P.J. Parrish, An Unquiet Grave
Tyler Knox, Kockroach
Andrew Rehfeld, The Concept of Constituency
Laura Wiess, Such a Pretty Girl
Jeremy Blachman, Anonymous Lawyer
Andrew Pyper, The Wildfire Season
Wendy Werris, An Alphabetical Life
Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
Meghan Daum, The Quality of Life Report
Scott Reynolds Nelson, Steel Drivin' Man
Richard Aleas, Little Girl Lost
Paul Collins, The Trouble With Tom
John McFetridge, Dirty Sweet
Michael Kazin, A Godly Hero
Bill Crider, Murder Among the OWLS
Zachary Shore, Breeding Bin Ladens
Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
Matt Haig, The Dead Fathers Club
Lawrence Light, Fear & Greed
Simon Read, In The Dark
Sandra Ruttan, Suspicious Circumstances
Henry Ansgar Kelly, Satan: A Biography
Alison Gaylin, You Kill Me
Gayle Lynds, The Last Spymaster
Jim Lehrer, The Phony Marine
Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.
Debra Ginsberg, Blind Submission
Sarah Katherine Lewis, Indecent
Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
William Easterly, The White Man's Burden
Danielle Trussoni, Falling Through the Earth
Andrew Blechman, Pigeons
Anne Perry, A Christmas Secret
Elaine Showalter, Faculty Towers
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile
Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane
Nicholas Lemann, Redemption
Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything
Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile
Josh Chafetz, Democracy’s Privileged Few
Anne Frasier, Pale Immortal
Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
David A. Bell, The First Total War
Brett Ellen Block, The Lightning Rule
Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
Jason Starr, Lights Out
Robert Vitalis, America's Kingdom
Stephen Elliott, My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up
Colin McGinn, The Power of Movies
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood
Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind
Stanley Fish, How Milton Works
James Longenbach, The Resistance to Poetry
Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Season of Betrayal
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Allison Burnett, The House Beautiful
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
Ed Lynskey, The Dirt-Brown Derby
Cindy Dyson, And She Was
Simon Blackburn, Truth
Brian Freeman, Stripped
Alyson M. Cole, The Cult of True Victimhood
Jeff Biggers, In the Sierra Madre
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue