Cabbages and Kings

A diary by the authors of the Louis Kincaid series

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Location: Fort Lauderdale/Elk Rapids, Florida and Michigan, United States

We are the New York Times bestselling authors of the Louis Kincaid series and other stand alone thrillers. We have taught writing at major conferences for ten years.

Friday, January 26, 2007

New! Booky Noise VI

I am off to Bookmania in Stuart today, where I share a panel with Tess Gerritsen, J.A. Jance, Sujata Massey, Katherine Hall Page and Lisa Unger called "Once Upon a Crime." What a line-up, huh?

While I am gone, would you all take a look at Jeannie's opening to her book "No Apologies" and give her some feedback. Does it float your boat? Tickle your twines? Get your toes acurling?

Okay, talk amongst yourselves until I get home Sunday!

“Take your clothes off.”


“Take them off.”


Ephraim pointed his really big gun at me as I stood on Gunnison Beach. A crisp October breeze cut across the sand and maked me shiver. The soft shimmer of moonlight cast an eerie silver glow across the water, making it seem like a mocking entity ready to pounce, but the real threat stood before me.

“You have what you came for, just leave.”

“Strip, damn it.” Ephraim took a step forward and aimed that gun at my heart. “Now.”

“Please, you don’t have to do this.” Thinking rape and murder and everything in between I kept inching back, away from the gun. “Take the money, it’s yours. Please just leave.”

“I want your clothes.”

“But why? I’ve done what you said. You have the money.”

“I want you naked so you don’t get any ideas about following me.”

“Oh, no.” A sense of relief, “I won’t follow you. I’ll just sit here and count to a hundred or something.”

“Sorry dear, but I have no reason to trust you. Now give me your clothes before I put a bullet in between those pretty green eyes.” The gun came up to give me a good look down its long barrel.

Gathering all the courage in my soul I raised my chin defiantly and said, “No. I refuse.”

“Then I’ll have to shoot you.” Ephraim said. I backed up a step, legs shaking and thought of Judy. It was all I could do not to look up to the dune where she was hidden video taping this exchange. She told me this would be an easy drop. Just hand off the money and leave, she just needed proof, that’s all.

Ephraim pulled the little thingy back on the top of the gun with an ominous click.

I flung off my denim jacket, ripped my t-shirt over my head and kicked off my shoes and jeans. It was a no choice situation and as much as I didn’t want to do this, even more I didn’t want to get shot. As I stood there in my bra and panties Ephraim said, “Everything.”

Monday, January 22, 2007

Booky Noise...HELP!

Well, shoot. Or shoot me, if you must.

Due to an AOL problem (this is the new "the dog ate my homework" excuse), I have lost a couple of your Booky Noise entries that I had waiting in storage to post here. I thought I had saved them in a special folder, but they have vanished.

If you sent me one and still want feedback, please resend it asap and we can resume our critiques. Or, if anyone new to this blog wants to participate, here's the deal:

Booky Noise is devoted to our group here giving feedback on the opening of your work-in-progress. Please limit your opening to just a page or less, the idea being that if you can't caught our attention in a page, it ain't working anyway.

And to the four of you who were waiting, you're up first, if you can resend.

Going back to ferreting out the typos, crappy syntax and brain farts in my manuscript now...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Can you pass the 69 Test?

Now that I have your attention...

No, I am not going to talk about sex again. Not even bad sex, which as we writers know is a helluva lot more fun than good sex. I want to talk about finding the heart of your story. And to do that, you have to try this little exercise:

Get out your book. (For our purposes here, "book" means published or un, completed or not. "Book" is that thing that has been keeping you up lately.)

Open it to page 69. Read what is there. I don't care if it's a full page or the last two lines of a chapter. (If you hit a blank page, you have permission to use either 68 or 70 but that's as much cheating as I allow.)

This page -- this single page -- capsulizes your entire book.

You don't believe me, do you. I didn't believe it either until I tried this experiment. I did it at the request of Marshal Zeringue, executive director for the Campaign for the American Reader. Marshal has this terrific blog wherein he promotes reading. Sez Marshal: "The goal of this blog is to inspire more people to spend more time reading books. I'll try to do that by shining a little light on books that I like and think others might find worthy of their time and attention."

He also came up with the Page 69 Test. He was inspired by Marshall McLuhan's suggestion that you should choose your reading by turning to page 69 of a book and, if you like it, read it. Marshal tried it with Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale, and was so taken with the results he devised the Page 69 writers challenge.

On his blog, he has asked dozens of writers to answer the question: Is your page 69 a good place to get a sense of your book?

At Marshal's request, I took up the gauntlet and cracked open our most recent, An Unquiet Quiet. Here is our page 69:

As Charlie Oberon staggered closer into the light, everything came into focus. His bloody sweatshirt. A woman’s lifeless, naked body. Charlie’s long fingers pressed into her thighs. Arms hanging limp, shreds of dark wet leaves stuck to them. Her hair...long, blond and thick with blood.

“She won’t wake up,” Charlie cried. “She won’t wake up.”

Louis broke into a run toward him.

It's the end of chapter 8. Does it give a good sense of the book? I'll say only that I went into this experiment a sceptic and emerged...

Well, hop over to Marshal's blog and find out. And check out some of the other entries. They're fascinating. Especially N.M. Kelby's analysis of her book "Whale Season." Her page 69 is blank. She says it speaks volumes.

Okay...back to your own page 69. How does it work for you? What is there on this one single page that somehow serves to represent the very heart of your book? Think hard. It's there. If it's not? Well, maybe, just maybe, you haven't really found the heart of your book yet.

Let me know what you found out. We'll print them here.