Tuesday, March 4, 2008

C.J. Lyons' "Lifelines"

C.J. Lyons is a physician trained in Pediatric Emergency Medicine and a debut medical suspense novelist.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her newly released first book, Lifelines, and reported the following:
Oh boy, I was worried about this one! Typical doctor, right? Got to sweat out every test, aim for the top!

Then I opened Lifelines to page 99 and voila! It's a major turning point in the book where the emotional arc, the romantic elements, the plot and theme all intersect.

Up to this point, we've followed Pittsburgh ER doctor, Lydia Fiore, as she struggles to clear her name after losing a patient. She's fiercely independent and, as a newcomer, she has no idea who to trust. Nor does trust come easily to her.

On page 99 she makes the decision to reveal some of her past to Trey Garrison, a paramedic who also cared for the dead patient. We learn more about Lydia on this single page than we have so far in the book.

"Yeah, I heard that you put yourself through school." He paused but didn't look away, kept staring straight into her eyes. "And that you came out of the foster care system, lived on the streets before that."

"Stop looking at me like I was raised by wolves. It's not like it sounds. I just had an—" How to describe Maria to this stranger? "I had an unconventional mother. That's all." She felt his gaze on her, raised her chin. "Some days I wish I stayed out on the streets. More fun, less lawyers."

"No, you don't. I saw you last night. You live for this sh**."

"Yeah." She managed a half-smile. "Too bad I might be out of a job. Permanently."

The theme of Lifelines is family — building connections, learning that you can't go it alone, that we all need lifelines.

Page 99 is the first time we see Lydia lowering her guard, allowing someone else to get close. Further on down the page she and Trey share their first kiss, cementing the importance of this moment for Lydia. And this page is when she makes a full commitment to risk everything in order to solve the mystery behind her patient's death.

As soon as she makes this decision, the door opens (literally) and everything changes as the plot speeds forward.

Character, theme, plot all colliding to take the book in a different direction from here on out. Wow! Who knew one little page could work so hard?

Thanks, Page 99!

And thanks to everyone for reading!
Read an excerpt from Lifelines, and learn more about the author and her work at C.J. Lyons' website and her blog, Vital Signs.

--Marshal Zeringue