Monday, March 29, 2010


I follow Kathy Temean's Writing and Illustrating blog. She had a great post on clichés and how to avoid them. She was blogging specifically about clichéd phrases, but I realized that we have clichéd plot devices and themes in children's writing as well.

I think we all have a list of plot clichés that set our teeth on edge. However, I think others tend to slide under our radar because we identify with that particular idea. I'm going to list some of my least favorite clichés, and I hope you'll leave some of yours! It's always good to note what's been done to death so we can avoid it in our own writing.

So, a few clichés:

1) The snarky narrator. I see this a lot in YA. Not to say that I don't like a unique voice, but I get tired of a character that is unique only because of her snarky comments. Yes, most YA protagonists are at odds with their world or life, but there are many different ways to express that.

2) You just have to believe. Often in life, that's true. Which makes it even harder to write about without sounding trite. But... it's a common theme and an even more common phrase. I was just listening to a book recording. It was a terrific book,with a great world and unique characters. At one point in the story, the main characters realized they just had to believe. (And they really did.) Overall, the author handled the situation very well, but I have to admit, when we got to that point, I was thinking to myself, Please don't say 'we just have to believe'. They did- but the story was so great I forgave them.

3) The shy, quiet hero/ine who gets the hottie because the author isn't hot and wanted a happy ending for such a situation ... so she wrote it. I am not poking fun at these stories! It's a universal theme, and we love rooting for the underdog. I'm writing such a story and believe me, it's going to have a happier ending than any of my personal experiences ever did. : ) But! As some kind but firm Slushies pointed out a while ago, there had better be a reason that the underdog wins. And "because I (the author) want her to" doesn't count. I believe the exact critique was, "I know I should care about this person, but I really don't." God bless the underdogs, but give the readers a reason to root for them other than their underdog status.

So help me here. What are cliches that you've seen recently? I'd love to know.

And ... this is so fun, but I'm only posting it because I know you'll never use it in your writing. It's a cliché finder! Please. Use. Responsibly.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Festival of the Book- First Pages

You should know right away that my note-taking skills are quite inferior to Michelle's. But I'll give you the best review I can of Dancing With the Manuscripts- How to Hook an Editor on the First Page, sponsored by the Moseley Writers. Lucy Russell moderated. Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren, Deborah M. Prum, Fran Cannon Slayton, and Andy Straka offered feedback.
Here are the highlights:

  • Fuzzy beginnings are a don't. Beginnings with a vague sense of place fail to grab. There had better be a clear sense of place and time.
  • Don't switch temporal perspective. I don't mean POV or headhopping between various characters (well known mistakes). Jumping between the past and present isn't a good idea in the first page of your work. Relating the past, jumping the present, revisiting the past, and then jumping back to the present is awkward. More than that, however, it fails to anchor your reader in your story.
  • Don't open with tons of description. One story began with detailed description of an object. A paragraph's worth. We went quite a while before we met the character. Again, your job is to anchor the reader in your story and to your characters, not to an object.
  • Don't surprise your reader with unexpected details. A few stories started one way and then dropped in a jarring detail. One story began in a very homey way and then broke out the fairy dust. Another story's description hinted at century's old atmosphere and then showed us a baseball cap. The changes didn't create interest- they caused confusion.

There were other issues, but those dealt mainly with the mechanics of writing that you know. I think the comments reminded me most of goslings. You know how just-hatched goslings imprint on the first thing they see? Think of your readers as hatchlings ready to imprint. Your first pages need to imprint them on the right character, the right world, and the right conflict. Use clear language, and pick the right scene so that your goslings can make sense of the world you've dropped them into.

*Sorry about the wonky formatting, folks, I ran out of patience trying to fix it...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Virginia Festival of the Book, part three--More Panels

The next panel I went to by myself. Sarah and Alison attended a first pages panel, which I'm hoping they post about. (hint, hint!) I went to Land Ho! Creating New Worlds in Any Genre. I think a lot of people expected this one to be about fantasy worlds, but the authors truly represented a wide range.

Stacy Nyikos writes fantasy, and had good advice. She suggested setting "rules" before you get too far on the writing. Then stick to them. You can create rules for a fantasy world, or work within accepted ones. She gave the example of Chinese dragons from her book Dragon Wishes. When researching dragons, she found out that dragons from European mythology have wings, but in Chinese lore, they do not. She originally thought her characters would eat rice, because the book was set in China. Research taught her that in the northern parts of the country, people didn't eat rice during the time period of her book. They ate millet. She told us she uses her beta readers to catch problems in her later drafts, and will try to call someone with direct knowledge of what she is writing.

PJ Hoover combines fantasy in her stories with real world settings. She uses Cub Scout field trips as an excuse to learn about cool places she can use in her books. She keeps a lookout for unusual details that will make a scene real for the reader. She always carries a camera, a notebook (Smurfette!), and an open mind.

Keri Mikulski writes about the world of sports. She chose to write about sporty girls after not finding many books with girl characters playing sports. She likes sports fiction to be fast paced, with lots of action. Although she is not creating a world from her imagination, she faces the challenges of accurately portraying a culture that does exist, and is subtly different in different sports and different regions. She said it's important to at least try playing a sport if you're writing about it. Talk to experts and learn as much as you can. Sports readers are quick to spot cliches, myths, and poseurs.

Suzanne Morgan Williams has mainly written nonfiction, so she's an ace at researching places. She likes to begin with setting. A person's culture and who they are springs from where they come from. She agrees that if you're writing about a place you haven't been, or haven't spent a lot of time visiting, you must get a couple of locals to vette your descriptions for accuracy. Suzy prefers to visit any places she writes about, because just using books or Google won't give her the sense of how it feels to be someplace. A physical landscape and an emotional one both need to be present in a story. A good writer knows both and how they interact with one another. She wants her toughest readers to believe they are there in the story with her. She emphasized asking the questions that will make your story right.

The last panel I attended was Hot Young Adult and Teen Fiction. Charlottesville's own Anne Marie Pace moderated a panel of authors including David Macinnis Gill, Jennifer Hubbard, Amy Brecount White, and Paula Chase Hyman.

The authors began by defining "young adult." This is a question that I've seen asked a lot, and it doesn't have a clear answer, but Paula said pretty much what I'd have said. YA is designed for a specific age range, usually 12-17, but fluctuates a bit on either side of that. The panel discussed how YA is often perceived as a new genre, but it isn't really. They mentioned books such as The Catcher in the Rye and The Outsiders and Judy Blume's work that have been around a long time. In any time period, YA captures the essence of being a teenager and all the intensity of first loves and first fights with good friends. When asked which contemporary YA fiction would still be read thirty years from now, the authors mentioned Markus Zusak, Rebecca Stead, Christopher Paul Curtis, Sara Zarr, and Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, which has already stood the test of time.

Similar to other panels, these authors stressed the importance of writing about something personal to you. They said a writer must tell the truth in an elegant way, find an underlying truth to a story. Not that the story has to be true in the literal sense, but it has to ring true for the reader.

They wrapped up the session by discussing publicizing books. Many authors are doing blog tours now. (If you're one of them and want to include us on your blog tour, let us know!) Successful authors push the envelope and find ways to differentiate themselves. Promoting books is time consuming, but the internet can allow authors to do it on their own terms, without so much time and expense.

Virginia Festival of the Book, part two: The Panels

One of the cool things about VA Book is that in many ways it is very much like a writers conference. Not only do you get to meet authors of different genres, but you get to hear what they have to say about various aspects of their writing journeys, and learn from them.

SCBWI sponsored several panels this year. The first of those was called Terrific Kids' Novels Adults Will Love Too. Middle grade and YA authors read from their novels. Kathy Erskine read from her new novel Mockingbird, sharing a scene in which her protagonist, a girl with Aspberger's, is having trouble communicating with a peer. Sue Corbett read from The Last Newspaper Boy in America, making us laugh with the antics of a newspaper family teaching their kids paper-throwing techniques. Sara Lewis Holmes read from Operation Yes, giving us a glimpse into how a drama teacher in her book gets her class involved in improv. Irene Latham read from Leaving Gee's Bend, sharing with the audience a bit of what she has in common with her main character: a love of fabrics and quilting. Finally, Fran Cannon Slayton read from When the Whistle Blows, engaging the audience with her characters' Halloween pranks.

After the readings, the authors answered questions posed by moderator Barbara Kanninen. She asked about why each of these authors them made the decision to add so many adult characters, when kids in books are often on their own. Sue said that adults add richness and make a story more realistic. Sara said that her story is set in a school, and that schools are populated with adults as well as children. Also, giving each character a battle to fight makes for a better story. Irene said that kids learn from parents about love, and that really resonated with me.

All five authors agreed that you have to be passionate about your writing, and you have to be passionate about the subject you are writing. That passion has to carry an author through the long process of writing a book and getting it published.

The second panel Sarah and I attended was Getting Published--Picture Books to Young Adult. The panelists, Laura Rennert, Deborah Heiligman, Bonnie Doerr, Emily Ecton and Ruth Spiro, shared their stories of how they became authors. Moderator Fran Cannon Slayton asked their advice for hopeful authors. Here's a list of what they said:
  • Join SCBWI
  • Be persistent
  • Do your homework-research agents and editors before submitting manuscripts
  • Read in the category you are writing
  • Subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace
  • Work on your craft-write the best book you can write
  • Get out there and become part of your local literary community
  • Develop a thick skin because there will be a lot of rejection along the way
The authors discussed the pros and cons of having an agent. While most agents won't work with authors who write only picture books, fewer publishing houses are taking unagented manuscripts now. An agent can act as a support system and also help improve your writing. One advantage of not having an agent is that an author is more likely to work with smaller publishing houses where there is less bureaucracy, so the author can have more input on the final product.

Someone asked where to go for more information, and the authors suggested reading Nancy Lamb's book The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children. SCBWI was listed again as a great resource, as well as The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, by Harold Underdown. I have used all of these resources myself, and agree that they are well worth looking at.

The final advice from the panel was not to try predicting trends. Write a story you care deeply about and let it be the best story only you can write.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Virginia Festival of the Book 2010, Part one: The People

Alison, Sarah and I met up in downtown Charlottesville yesterday for the Virginia Festival of the Book. We'll post later about the panels. Today I want to mention the people.

Back in October, the three of us went to the James River Writers Conference. You can read about our trip here and here. We met Kristi, and Sarah has kept in touch with her. Kristi has also been following our blog. Kristi and her husband drove up from Richmond yesterday to attend the festival. Here she is, with me and Sarah.

One of the people I had wanted to meet yesterday was Suzanne Morgan Williams. Suzanne has written several nonfiction books for children, and debuted her first novel last year as part of the Class of 2k9. We interviewed her in the fall shortly after her book Bull Rider was released. When I found out she was coming, I sent her an email. She was delightful in person, and gave a great presentation at her panel. I'm impressed with the lengths she will go to in the name of first hand research!

We met one of you as well. If you read the comments, you know that we were supposed to keep a lookout for Becky Mushko. I found her! Here she is at the book fair, with her book, Ferradiddledumday. She must have been busy too, because when I went back later to introduce Sarah, I couldn't find her. It was nice to meet you, Becky. I hope you had a great time!

We saw lots more of our local SCBWI folks, and it was great to catch up with them as well. If you were there and we missed you, we hope to see you next time. If you weren't able to come, we've got your back. Sarah, Alison, and I took notes at the panels, so watch for some posts about them over the next few days.

Friday, March 19, 2010

First Page Friday, #4

Hi everyone! We've got another round of First Page Fridays*. Please leave our lovely participant your feedback in the comments section.

Burning. Wherever I looked, everything was burning. I peered out from underneath the wagon as armed men unfurled swords and threw spears. Their shining metal armor caught the sun’s rays and blinded me.

Blood spilt on the ground, stinking in the heat. I closed my eyes and tried to think of peace while shutting out the horrors of battle around me. I pulled my legs to my chest and made myself as small as possible, hoping to shrink into nothingness to escape this place.

Something dripped on my hand, hot and sticky. I gazed down and saw a patch of red. A gasp caught in my throat. Biting my lip, I looked up at the slats of the wagon’s bed. Between the cracks, I saw a body slumped on top of them. Blood seeped from a wound in the man’s chest and fell to the sand at my feet. I scooted away from it, faintness clouding my thoughts.

Certain names I heard repeated over and over again, unfamiliar terms. Troy, Hector, Agamemnon. Who, what, did these names mean? I knew nothing of them.

The hollow sound of something hitting the ground, followed by the sickly sweet scent of poison, assaulted me. I peeked open my eyes and saw the contorted face of the caravan leader; an arrow protruded from his back. He no longer breathed.

But I still did, though probably not for long.

Screams rang out around me, and I cowered behind the wagon’s wooden wheel. Donkeys squealed as men slaughtered them. Gold jingled in heavy purses, and wood crackled amidst flames.

Adonai, protect me.

The entire caravan was lost, and most of its passengers had been killed. Soldiers now herded up the scant number of women into a tight ring. Any remaining men had swords thrust into their bellies while I grimaced and fought the instinct to gag.

“That one down there.” A man pointed at me. “Under the wagon. Bring her.”

A bronzed and bloodied face turned towards me, and fear gripped my heart. I scrambled out from my hiding spot and sprang to my feet. Before me lay a vast wilderness and beyond, the sea. The azure waters called to me, and I ran towards them.

Footsteps pounded the earth behind me, accompanied by laughter. But soon, my own panting drowned out all other sounds from my ears.

My sandal caught on a rock, and I tumbled to the ground. I landed hard on my back, and for a moment, could not breathe. My mouth worked and my lungs gasped for air, but nothing came. Had I been speared? Was this death?

*If you're interested in submitting your own pages, see this post for information.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A slow week, and a busy one

The Slushbusters are meeting tonight, but it should be a short meeting. I'm the only one who sent something to be critiqued. It seems like everyone else has either just finished a WIP, or their lives are exceptionally busy right now. So it's a slow week for critique. I won't even need to bring my computer to this evening's meeting, as Lisa won't be joining us via Skype. Weird.

In other aspects, this is a very busy week for us. It's the week of the Virginia Festival of the Book. If any of you in Virginia haven't been here for it before, it would be worth a couple of hours' drive from Northern VA even just to spend the day on Saturday. Our local SCBWI is sponsoring three panels, and there are several others featuring childrens' authors. We're looking forward to seeing some of the authors we know and have interviewed here, and also meeting some new ones.

If you'll be going, keep an eye out for us. Better yet, leave a comment, and we can keep an eye out for each other!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Page (next) Friday

Sorry everyone, I'm a bit behind and this week we don't have a non-Slushie entry.

(Holy smoke, that was a good kiss! Not mine, alas, but I had The More, the Merrier on in the background and was temporarily distracted. I love black and white movies, and I think I now have a tiny crush on Joel McCrea.)

But I digress.

All that to say, if you have first pages you'd like critiqued next week, please send them to us. Rules and info here.

And since I'll feeling a bit random, why don't you share some of your favorite movies? You can learn so much about folks from their favorite movies.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What does literature inspire?

Remember last month when I wrote about the Harry Potter Alliance, and the work they were doing? They got loads of support from authors and fans alike for their Helping Haiti Heal project. They were able to meet their goal of raising over $100,000 to send three planes full of supplies to Haiti. The planes were named Harry, Ron and Hermione, and were sent in conjunction with Partners in Health. You can read all about it here, and see wonderful pictures of the planes and supplies here. And if any of you donated, thank you.

I know the Harry Potter stories are an extreme example, but isn't it wonderful that an author can write a story that takes on a life of its own once it's out there in the world? That kind of inspiration makes me think more about the intention of where my story is going. I'd love to one day inspire hope and positive action in a reader.

I thought about the kinds of actions my stories might inspire. No one in my stories saves the world, but my characters do change for the better in small ways. They might inspire a reader to be kinder to her sister or her grandmother. They may inspire someone to be a little less selfish, a little more honest, and a little braver. All of these actions are part of growing up for any kid. I like to think it's the books they read that make the growth a little less painful and a lot more fun.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Guest Blogger Judith Graves visits on her blog tour

Judith Graves, member of the debut authors Class of 2K10 joins us today for a guest post. Judith is doing a blog tour this week for her upcoming YA novel Under My Skin, which will be released March 27. Welcome!

I'm an author who started out as a singer/songwriter. I grew up writing tunes and playing them for friends/family. I became a regular at open mics, doing the circuit, appearing in a few venues each weekend, and then joined various indie bands to play pubs, music festivals, weddings, you name it. In that time, I learned how to read a crowd. Through them I learned what made a tune a train wreck and what made a crowd pleaser. They gave me instant feedback, and it wasn't always pretty, especially in the beginning.

When I started writing fiction, I felt lost. I had no faces to scan, no tapping toes or swaying bodies to judge if I was getting through. A computer screen doesn't applaud or sneer in disgust as you type your heart out. I didn't know anyone actively writing (although everyone I knew said they'd like to write a book one day). By then I'd moved to a small northern Alberta community, and my band hosted the only open mic in town. There were no writers' groups, so I did what I had to.

I found some online.

I started off with small, but loyal, critique groups I found by searching Yahoo Groups. Then I branched off into the world of Critique Circle.

CC is possibly the best online site for a newbie author. There are set rules for critiquing, you can crit for credits (more credits=more chapters/stories you can post to be critted) and stay with the masses or form your own mini-crit groups, skip the credit system, and progress through novels and longer works much faster.

Something told me there could be more than just crit and be critted, however. I think I was looking for the right combination of personalities. I sent an all-call out on an author group, asking for a few loyal critters interested in edgy YA. And, success! That one message became the foundation of my current critique group consisting of Tami Klockau and fellow Leap Books author, Kitty Keswick. Not only do we critique together, we co-write blogs together: and Kitty and I are even collaborating on a YA paranormal series. So has this critique group had an impact on my writing?

Yes, HUGE.

And we do all this online. I live in Alberta, Tami in San Diego, and Kitty's just outside Philadelphia, PA. Kitty and I will meet in person for the first time as part of a mini-tour of NYC during Book Expo America in May and organized with the class of 2k10 (we're co-presidents of the Class). The dream woudl be to have Tami with us...hint, hint, Tam!

YAedge, the critique group, has been working together for three years and have a great system. We file share through a private Yahoo group. We each post a new chapter of our current WIP on Monday and have until Sunday to critique each other and post our next chapter. We also believe in the "call a friend" method of plotting. We'll often chat via Skype and brainstorm ourselves and our characters out of plot corners. We host periodic writing challenges on our YAedge blog to inspire ourselves and others to get through first drafts. We commiserate when queries are rejected and celebrate when the fates align. We tell it like it is, though; our crits aren't always polite and friendly. If a tomato needs to be thrown, believe me, someone's ducking.

One of the challenges to our group, I have to admit, has been that Kitty and I are both launching debut novels this year. Our critiquing has been overwhelmed by book promotional stuff. But we've recently started to get back on track and just in time to start revising those sequels.


Find out more about Judith Graves and Under My Skin at:


Wolfy Chicks Blog

Book Trailer

Publisher's Website

Class of 2k10 website

Class of 2k10 trailer

Free Read Old Flames Die Hard

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An apology and something funny

Guess who forgot until yesterday that she was supposed to post the next round of First Page Fridays?

She's tall, loves revision, and has been working late the past few weeks.* I was so tired this morning that I forgot my coffee.

You get the idea. Rather than give you more excuses, I hope to earn your forgiveness by the following:

Please go read it and have a good laugh. Then come back and tell me where you are in the critique process and how you handle it.

*Yes, my apartment looks like I've been working late the past few weeks.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

When spring is on the way

I like to reread The Secret Garden. I used to read it every year, but I've slipped recently. It's so hopeful. I love books that begin with the main character having basically nothing, and creating a world for themselves. They have to build their relationships, their occupations, whatever, from the ground up. This book is the most literal interpretation of that story.

This year we're reading it with the Rapunzels, and I'm looking forward to hearing what they think about it. This will be the second time I've read this book along with a group of kids. The first time was in 1992, back when I was a student teacher. Literature based learning was all the rage in education.

I love being able to take a book and dissect its many aspects to put the story into context for the kids. I'm always amazed at how quickly they grasp all the different subtleties of a book beyond the story itself. This go-around, we're going to talk a little bit about English colonialism in India, cholera, the Yorkshire dialect, and of course, gardening.

So, does anyone else have any favorite reads you revisit over and over again?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Revision Wednesday, #3

Our intrepid contributor Andrea has submitted a revision based on Friday's critiques. Please let her know what you think!

Inside room 424 of the cardiac wing at Charleston Memorial Hospital, Jorge Mendoza hung tenuously between life and death. The sixty-seven-old patient’s chest heaved with each uneven breath and his olive skin appeared sallow and sunken under the dim lights. Just five feet away, the massive silhouette of a man lurked in the shadows as Jorge lay vulnerable and alone.

With the stealth of a thief in the night, the stalker crept to the bed and covered the patient’s nose and mouth with his hand. Jorge jolted awake. His right eye scanned the room while the other drooped as the result of a recent stroke. When he looked up, Jorge met the menacing blue gaze of his attacker.

“Don’t scream.” the stranger warned. “Blink if you understand.”

Jorge closed and opened his eye, acknowledging the order.

“Do you know why I am here?“ The stranger asked while lifting his hand away.

Jorge lay for a moment, gasping for breath, assessing his opponent. “You’re here to kill me.”

The visitor raised an eyebrow, “How perceptive.“ Then he slowly retrieved a needle from his pocket and walked to the I.V. bag.

Jorge glanced at the clock on the wall, it was 12 a.m. Midnight rounds had just begun, “I know who sent you.” He revealed, hoping to stall long enough for a nurse to interrupt the assassination.

The stranger glanced over his shoulder at the patient, a slight smile forming on the corner of his mouth, “I know. That’s why I’m here. “ He taunted. “You’ll never get the chance to share your knowledge with anyone else.” Then he turned and injected a substance into the tube. “Despite what you may think, my kind can show mercy. Your end will be painless.”

Jorge wanted to scream but he knew it was futile. His attacker would overtake him before anyone could make it to the room. All he could do was watch in terror as the stranger advanced on him.

Now the stranger was so close that his hot breath brushed Jorge’s ear as he whispered, “I have a message for you. It was sent from the one you tried to destroy.”

Jorge looked into his adversary’s eyes with unyielding resolve. “I’m not surprised he sent you to do his bidding. Coward!”

The stranger clapped his hand over Jorge’s mouth. “The message is …His secret will die with you. But before you leave this world, my master wants you know the game of hide and seek is over. ”

Jorge’s eyes widened and he struggled under his attacker’s grip. Could he know where it is?

The stranger’s smile contradicted the anger in his eyes, “Now don’t struggle, it will only cause the poison to kick in faster. Since the end is near you may as well tell me where you’re hiding it. Otherwise, we will have to begin our search in the home of your grieving widow. ”

In an instant, Jorge grasped the true horror of the situation. ”My wife has nothing to do with this. You must believe me.” He stammered.

“It doesn’t matter. We know you possess what is needed to win the war. There is no other way you could have known my master’s identity.”

Jorge felt a surge of adrenaline, his heart fluttered and his breathing quickened, the poison was taking effect. He closed his eyes, his thoughts a mixture of sadness and regret. He should not have interfered. He had unwittingly left a trail of breadcrumbs to an ancient secret his family had protected for centuries. .

Suddenly, a bright light flashed above the bed and an angel appeared opposite the stranger.

The visitor’s steely eyes widened with recognition, “Harut, it’s been too long. I knew you’d come running if one of your sheep was in trouble. Too bad it’s too late.”

Jorge coughed and wheezed as he looked up at the angel, “I’m sorry my friend, I should have listened to you.”

Harut stroked Jorge’s salt and pepper locks, “It is I who failed you my friend.” He said, casting his eyes toward the stranger. Then the angel rolled his shoulders revealing a set of sprawling white wings, “Abbadon, I will kill you for this!”

The stranger examined his nails looking almost amused, “The appointed time is near my brother. We’ll face off soon enough. Then we shall see which of us lives and which of us dies.”

Harut’s dark eyes narrowed, “Look at yourself! Walking around in sheep’s clothing pretending to be a man. The very thing you fell from grace over. Hypocrite! You embrace what you hate.”

Abbadon scowled at Harut, “Don’t push me. There are no boundaries in war and I will do what is necessary to win,“ he cautioned. “ I may be in sheep’s clothing but this disguise got me close enough to kill one of your flock-- Shepherd!”

“This is not over!” Harut promised.

A smile flickered in Abbadon’s eyes, “It appears to be for your human.” Then he turned and exited the room.

The heart monitor skipped a beat and Jorge’s breathing quickened. He was dying and nothing could stop it. Soledad, my beloved daughter, he thought. Now she will have to carry my cross.

Harut retracted his wings as he looked tenderly at his charge, “I wish you would not have interfered. Now I cannot help you my friend. “

A tear fell from Jorge’s eye. “I had to try for my daughter’s sake.“ He coughed, “I failed you. I’ve failed us all,” he uttered through his last breath. At that moment, the line on the monitor went flat and the sound of emergency buzzers overtook the silence.