Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Secret Agent #7

TITLE: Thou Shalt Not Kill
GENRE: Christian Romantic Suspense

Lily Birch threw wide the heavy curtains to sun her father’s deathbed.

Spring had freshly arrived in Savannah, Georgia and it was already beach weather. She hated the outdoors, but Lily longed for escape. If only the mosquitoes would halt their vampire carnival, a short walk would be sublime. But any reprieve from the weeks of close quarters and bed pans and pill bottles seemed like a far off dream.

Lily never thought she’d miss going to work or living in her old apartment, both of which she traded in to nurse her dying father, but she did. He moaned behind her and she turned to gaze sympathetically at him. There was so little time left. Pop was the color of sand.

His eyes were opened, so Lily went to him humming a tune and pretending to be happy. This was Lily’s talent. She was determined he should be as comfortable as possible right until the end. For her part, that meant being positive.

Optimism was Lily’s superpower.

She took a seat in the dining chair, which had been brought upstairs to facilitate the long vigil, and squeezed the old man’s shoulder.

“It’s a lovely day today, Pop,” Lily said, putting on a wide smile.

When he coughed, his entire upper half shook.

“Need some water?” his only daughter asked.

Pop shook his head and motioned Lily closer.

“What is it?” she asked, bending near.

“Lily, I have something to confess, alright?” he said with surprisingly lucid blue eyes.


  1. The genre interested me--I'm not sure whether I've seen Christian romantic suspense 'round these parts before! The writing has a lyrical quality, it reads smoothly. I like the line about pop being the color of sand. The hook at the end about the confession feels timed right; the page gives enough setting and peeks into the character prior to the confession for some context.

    A few nitpicks: you don't need the word "sympathetically" since that is implied--this is her dying father, I would imgine she is sympathetic. If you could show her doing something, like adjusting his pillow a fraction or checking to refill his water, that might show her caretaking side more tangibly. Just one line to show how much attention to detail she is providing to keep him comfortable.

  2. The genre caught my eye as well. I write CSF (Christian Speculative Fiction).

    Nice opening line. It’s hooky but doesn’t overdo it.

    I’d consider chopping everything but the first sentence of your second paragraph. It helps to give some setting but I think you can work those details in later.

    I’d look at some of your ‘telling’ statements.

    “Optimism was Lily’s superpower.”

    “She was determined…”

    In each statement you are telling your reader something. While sometimes narrative summary is needed, I wonder if this early on if you can’t start to show her determination and her optimism in a bit more active way.

    I love the ending, its good and hooky and it makes you want to keep going. I also like how you worked in the detail of Lily being his only daughter. That was nicely done.

  3. The genre caught my eye too, I haven't read any Christian romantic suspense, or other romantic suspense either, but I like Lily, liked how truthful she was at the start. I think it has promise and that last line really pulls you in.

  4. Interesting. I haven't really explored Christian reading thoroughly so I couldn't resist.
    There are some showing and telling concerns that have been brought up previously, for example when the narrator says "Optimism is Lily's superpower" and then this is followed up with Lily putting on a smile and positively greeting her father. Her actions speak for her optimistic character, so I think you should rely more on your showing than telling in the appropriate places.
    I do like we learn a lot about Lily, like even though she loves her father she is wishing for an escape. She became an interesting character for me, plus you end with a little teasing line about a confession. I would read more. Best wishes!

  5. The first line is perfect. Lily's sacrifice is obvious. I want to know what it is he confesses and what happens to her after her father's passing.

  6. I agree about the telling aspect of the piece. You do a nice job of creating a setting, mood, and character, but almost everything is told to us.

    Look for passive verbs - was, would be, went - and replace them with more concrete verbs. Rephrase sentences so we see Lily doing things, rather that you telling us that she did something. Allow Lily to act for, and by, herself.

  7. I'm getting some mixed messages from Lily.

    If she really hates the outdoors, it seems to me she wouldn't think of the weather as being beach weather, but as air-conditioner weather.

    And then she pessimistically thinks there hardly a chance that she'll get a reprieve from the bed pans and pill bottles, but she believes that optimism is her superpower. Pretending to be happy and optimism aren't the same thing.

    So I feel a little off-balance here.

    I like a deathbed confession, but I am a little afraid that's an overused device. So I'd read on for a bit to see if his confession was something really unique and compelling.