Page 69 challenge: Excerpts from The Things We Never Said (contemporary fiction) and In...



Calling all writers and readers!​

Showcase your favorite book—or at least page 69 of it—here!​

Turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book.

That was Marshall McLuhan’s advice anyway. Over the next few Wednesdays, I invite readers to submit their own or other works (pg. 69 only of course!) via the Contact Form here.

The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot Wright

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

In 1964, Maggie wakes to find herself in a mental asylum, with no idea who she is or how she got there. All she knows is that she must use all her strength in order to survive. Remnants of memories swirl in her mind – a familiar song, a storm, a moment of violence. Slowly, she begins to piece together the past and the events which brought her to this point.In the present day, Jonathan is grieving after the loss of his father. A cold, distant man, he was not easy to love, but at least while he lived there was hope for reconciliation. Then a detective turns up on Jonathan’s doorstep to question him about crimes he believes Jonathan’s father may have committed long ago…As the two stories interweave, the devastating truth long kept hidden must emerge, and both Maggie and Jonathan are forced to come to terms with the consequences of the shocking and tragic events of over forty years ago.


Susan Elliot Wright grew up in Lewisham in south-east London, left school at 16 and married unwisely at eighteen. She didn’t begin to pursue her childhood dream of writing until she left her unhappy marriage and went to university at the age of 30. After gaining a degree in English, she decided to choose a new name, and began flicking through the phonebook for ideas. She settled on Elliot and changed her name by deed poll. Then she met ‘Mr Right’ (actually, Mr Wright) to whom she is now happily married. She has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University, where she is now an Associate Lecturer.

Page 69 Excerpt (Simon & Schuster UK (May 23, 2013):

Maggie’s sessions with Dr. Carver are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; she remembers this now. And she remembers most of the nurses’ names, and almost all the patients’, at least those from her ward.Her memory is beginning to grow, but the roots are very strong.

‘Don’t push yourself too hard,’ the doctor says. ‘Relax, talk to the other ladies,and let nature take its course.’ He taps his temple twice.

‘I know.’ Maggie speaks the words along with him: ‘You can’t force the old grey matter into action before it’s ready. Quite right.’ He smiles as he shows her out. ‘Now, mind you get yourself along to the social this evening,’ he adds.’Do you a power of good.’

There will be ‘party food’ according to Dr. Carver; bridge rolls, cheese and pineapple, cocktail sausages – but not on sticks, apparently, because some patients can’t be trusted. So the evening meal is light; liver sausage or luncheon meat with Heinz vegetable salad and brown bread and butter, or beans on toast. Maggie isn’t hungry, so she just has a piece of toast and then heads back to the ward where she lights a cigarette and sits on the bed, legs stretched out in front of her, watching the smoke swirl up in the evening sunlight. What will the ‘social’ be like, she wonders? She’s used to Pauline, Norma and the other women on her own ward, but as for meeting new people, patients from other wards… her stomach shifts at the thought. Although Pauline seems to think it’ll be fun.

Hat tip to Nancy Walker ( who writes, “…it is indeed a wonderful book, and skillfully crafted.”

Sounds good? Get your copy of The Things We Never Said HERE.


In Heaven’s Shadow by S.A. Bolich

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Lilith Stark knows from experience that dead doesn’t necessarily mean gone. Gettysburg took Joab’s life, but her husband struck a bargain with Heaven to come home instead. She’s not about to turn away whatever the Yankees have left to her of their all-too-brief marriage. But when she inadvertently lets slip to the neighbors that not only Joab has come home, but one of the neighbor boys as well, she ignites a town already rubbed raw by the endless sorrows of civil war.Lilith, hoping to salvage the situation, only puts her foot in it deeper when she offers the good people of Browns Corners, Virginia, the benefits of her strange and perhaps saintly father’s magic elixir. With the neighbors fighting over the elixir, the Reverend Fisk convinced she’s the lying daughter of a shiftless devil, and the bereaved mother of the ghost living in Lilith’s barn turning the whole town against her, Lilith’s happy penchant for creating unexpected rainbows curdles to a despairing gathering of black creepers instead.A private little war between Lilith and the Reverend leads to a very public confrontation in which Lilith will either get the town to accept her–magic, ghosts, and all–or find herself locked away as a madwoman, deprived of everything that makes her life worthwhile.


Page 69 (Hartwood Publishing Group, February 5, 2014)

“Ma!” Luke tried to get between his mother and Lilith, but Tillie only batted at him like she would a fly in her face and kept coming, reaching around the fat bole to try and drag Lilith out. “Ma!” Luke yelled, all but deafening Lilith, but Tillie never even blinked.

“Where is he?” she panted. “I know you know. You have to know. Where is he?”

“Tillie!” Lilith finally managed to get her tongue around the other woman’s name. “What are you on about? Luke’s right there!”

She pointed at Luke trying to drag his mother away, but his fingers had no more substance than starlight. Tillie snatched at Lilith’s exposed arm and dragged her out from behind the tree with a triumphant shriek. She looked more than mad, fit for Bedlam and one of those coats they put on crazy people that they couldn’t get out of.

Lilith ducked, wrenching at her arm. “Tillie! You’re hurting me! Let go!”

S. A. Bolich is a full-time freelancer whose books come with warnings from reviewers of sleepless nights and missed bus stops ahead as they suck you in and refuse to let go. Her first novel, “Firedancer,” Book 1 of the Masters of the Elements series, was released in September 2011 by Sky Warrior Books, with Book 2, “Windrider,” appearing in Spring 2012. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, Defending the Future IV: No Man’s Land, and Wolfsongs 2, among others, and is upcoming in several more. Currently she is working on “Seaborn,” Book 3 of Masters of the Elements.

She gave a mighty yank and freed her arm. Tillie was pulling so hard that the sudden release plumped her smack onto her backside. That silenced her for a couple of seconds. Joab arrived and planted himself like a wall between her and Lilith as Luke tried again to pin his mother’s arms. Tillie must have felt something that time. She shuddered and huddled in on herself, staring out of those wild eyes at Lilith.

“They say he’s missing,” she hissed. “A rider brought another list. Luke’s listed missing at Gettysburg. You said he was dead, but he’s not. He came home, didn’t he? He came here instead of to his own ma. Why’d you tell me he was dead? Why?”

Her voice lifted to a shriek. She lashed out at Lilith, scrambling awkwardly onto her knees, bracing herself with her left hand. Joab grabbed her wrist and flung her back. That time she landed on her back, shocked and wide-eyed.

“Joab,” Lilith said weakly, but the warning was way too late.

Tillie sat up, staring hard at Lilith. “How’d you do that?”

“I didn’t. It was Joab. And Luke’s right behind you.”

Tillie twisted wildly around, her face lighting up in hope that crumpled again just as fast. She looked back at Lilith, her eyes narrowed now and hard as river stones. “You’re crazy. Crazy as a loon and no conscience at all. You’ll say anything to bring attention to yourself, won’t you?”

Lilith backed up against the solid comfort of the tree. “Tillie, I ain’t lied to you. I don’t know why other folks can’t see the dead, but I can. And Luke’s right there behind you, feeling bad because you can’t see him. Joab’s right in front of you. Who do you think kept you away from me?”

It didn’t make any impression on Tillie that she could see. The older woman just kept staring, her mouth a tight, thin line. Lilith tried again.
“Joab, touch her again. Maybe she’ll believe you if she don’t believe me.”

Joab hesitated, looking over his shoulder at her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Lil.”

“How else is she going to know I ain’t crazy?”

“Only crazy people talk to themselves,” Tillie said flatly.

“I ain’t. Joab, go on.”

Joab got a disgusted look on his face, but he bent down and set his hand on Tillie’s shoulder. Tillie shuddered away with the same sort of twisted-up face that folks got when they spotted a spider walking up one arm.

“You stop that!” she yelled at Lilith. “I know your tricks! I saw a rainbow following you around one time. I thought then it was just my eyes playing tricks, but I know better now. You’re unnatural, Lilith Stark, and you better tell me where Luke’s hiding or I’ll scratch your eyes out.”

Sounds good? Get your copy of In Heaven’s Shadow here. (See my 5-Star review here)

I would really love to feature your Page 69! Use Contact Form here to submit your favorite Pg 69 (your own or other’s work) or tweet #Pg69

Filed under: excerpts, Page 69 Challenge, Pg 69 Challenge

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