Monday, February 22, 2016

Page 69: Tomorrow is a Long Time

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 
we put Tabitha Vohn's Tomorrow is a Long Time to the test!

The set up for page 69:

Page 69 is taking place during a time when Eileen is forced to make a decision about whether she's going to go through with this radical experiment, to see if she can have a relationship with Cal in the alternate world of his memory (think Matrix meets The Fringe), which is the only place they could enact this fantasy, given that he is eighty-some and she is in her twenties. She's also conflicted because she's in a nice, safe relationship with a guy she's known since childhood. So it's a choice between the sure thing or the man she believes that she was always meant to be with, despite the seeming impossibility of it all. Eileen is dragged to this honorary dinner for her best friend, who around page 70 or 71 (ha ha) recites a poem about Eileen's longtime love Cal, which then pushes her towards her decision.

What Tomorrow is a Long Time is about:

On the superficial level, Tomorrow is a Long Time is about the age-old fantasy of what if the celebrity you fantasized about actually felt a connection with you? Celebrity worship is such a powerful thing and--I think--feels so real to so many people because (with actors especially) performance art is all about these incredibly attractive individuals convincing us of these very realistic, vulnerable, intimate emotions and moments. We see artists exposed on a much more raw, personal level than we maybe even experience with friends, family, or lovers. So the connection that people feel to these artists (or their characters, more specifically) seems very real, even if it is all a fantasy. Eileen feels this way about Cal; she's convinced that he put his real self into his roles and, therefore, that the connection she feels to him is real, based on who he really is.  And she's right! And he feels the connection, too.
On a deeper level, this novel to me is a redemption story, which is the only story that I'm interested in telling. No matter how much pain and suffering I put my characters through, there's always the chance for redemption.

Does this page give readers an accurate sense of what the novel is about?

Man, there are so many other pages I would have chosen over pg. 69! It's not a pivotal moment, but it's a necessary one. Eileen needed a sign, and this scene gives her that final push towards Cal. If nothing else, pg. 69 is indicative of my writing style, so if you like what you read, there plenty of pages much more riveting but following the same style.


and beauty.”

Isabelle’s eyes began to tear and I hugged her again. “Oh, no, don’t cry. Happy times,” I said, trying to make my voice joking and light.

“Thanks, Lee. This is why I needed you here today. Thank you.”

“Any time.”

Isabelle sat me at her private table. Josh was there, and I was happy to see him on her arm. The sight of them together filled me with such happiness; they completed each other flawlessly. Secretly, I was relieved that Bear hadn’t been able to make it. After the shock of seeing Cal, and all that I had to consider, the last thing I wanted was the guilt of Bear’s hopeful eyes.

 Isabelle was glowing, despite her fear. Once the acclamations had begun over a warm introduction from her former advisor, I knew that she would feel the reception of those who had come to honor her and not their impending judgment or skepticism. With the meal, there was a hearty soup and fresh-baked bread, which would have been quite enough for me. The three of us chatted comfortably. Josh told us about his new job as a buyer for a local art gallery. He asked me about the pieces I planned to play in Austria. I told him how I was modeling them after the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, and using the Disney songs that were composed for them but putting a darker, more authentic sound to them, so that they fit with the Gothicism of the tales.

“Jack was insisting on my recording them into an album and then begin touring with them,” I said. “I told him that I think he’s jumping the gun.”

“No, I gotta tell ya, I think this is one of your coolest ideas yet,” said Josh.

“You think so?”

“It’s really exciting,” Isabelle said.

I smiled, embarrassed by their identically admiring faces. “Okay, well enough about me. This day is about Iz, after all. What poem will you be dazzling us with today?”

“Well, that’s sort of a surprise,” she said, tentatively placing her glass on the table. “It’s one you haven’t heard yet. I hope that you’ll like it.”

Isabelle was interrupted by the dean, who had made his way to the podium and was performing the obligatory fork against crystal gesture.

“Fellow distinguished members of the board, the Fine Arts Department, and the Committee for Literary Preservation: it is my privilege to welcome you all here today as we honor one of our own. A remarkable new voice has been discovered and cultivated in our midst. She has broken new ground during her graduate work, and I am now pleased to offer her a place among our published authors. I have asked Ms. Shales to share in a reading of her exciting work. Please join me in welcoming her, and congratulating her, to the first of many recognitions to come for her amazing talent. Ladies, gentlemen: Ms. Isabelle Shales.”

The room erupted into applause as Isabelle hesitated on wobbling legs before giving my and Josh’s hands one final squeeze and stepping up the podium.

She stood smiling, waiting for the applause to calm.

“Good afternoon. Thank you for having me,” she said. Her voice warbled slightly, and I bet that only Josh or I would have recognized just how hard it was for her to fight back the urge to run.

“I’m honored to have been asked to share my work with you today, albeit… 


Tabitha is a pen name. Her creator is a certified bookworm, thanks to the countless fairy tales, Bible stories, and nursery rhymes she was read as a child, and the Gothic, Romantic, and Contemporary novels she enjoys today. She has earned a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Teaching, and currently teaches high school English.

On Writing, Tabitha says,"I strive to write the type of stories that I enjoy reading. Ones that question those blurred lines between love and lust, between good and evil. Ones that make us question human nature while simultaneously seeing the beauty in it as well." 

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