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First Page: The Risen God

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“How long has Clarissa worked for you?” the woman on the other end of the line asked, the final question of a potential new employer for Terry’s right-hand woman and best friend.

Heart in her throat, Terry answered, then added, “And by the way… Hypothetically speaking, of course, if I could say it, I’d tell you that she’s an incredibly loyal, hard-working, honest employee. She’s been the best I’ve had around here.”

Morgan, the woman on the other end, chuckled. “Hypothetically speaking, I’d say she has a new job, then, if I could. Thank you again for your time and your candor. Have a great day.”

The cell phone’s blinked and there was silence, the call now over. Her best friend and only employee had an assured future now. Palpable relief flooded through her. She stared out the window, seeing a raven on the yard fence, its feathers gleaming in the noonday sun. It fixed her with a gimlet stare before cawing and flying away. The day, although bright and sunny, seemed suddenly too stark and harsh… and sad. With the raven gone, other birds’ songs rose to fill the air, their songs as overly cheerful as the sun was overly bright.

Three days later, she stood at the part of her property that they called The Back Forty. Once, it had been forty acres, but now it was closer to about ten. Much of it was used as pastureland. The main ten were nice and flat, perfect for a field of alfalfa. Three years ago, her mother had died. Her father has wasted away and died within two months.

Terry had promised never to plow any of The Back Forty. That was before, though. Now if she didn’t plow it and seed it, the chances were good that this was her last year on the family farm. Sighing, she cranked the engine on the old tractor. With a slight grinding of gears, she set out onto the field, glad that it wasn’t wet–yet. The day promised yet more rain, but for the moment, at three in the morning, the field was dry.

“Wait!” she heard the scream over the tractor engine.

Shutting down, she turned to see Clarissa running across the pasture and sliding through the barbed wire fence. “You can’t do this,” Clarissa said, climbing up the tire of the crotchety old tractor.

Clarissa didn’t know how bad things really were. Terry had hoped not to have to tell her.

“You should get some sleep,” Terry chided her dearest friend. “You’ve got work today.”

“Nah,” Clarissa lied openly, her eyes averted, “I didn’t get the job.”

Terry pulled out her trump card. She used Clarissa’s childhood nickname. “Clairy Fairy, listen to me now.” Clarissa’s eyes met hers, and Terry saw the tears well up in them. Steeling herself, she went on, “I can’t pay you. I can’t even afford to feed you. I don’t know what I’m going to eat. I have no choice. If I’m going to save the farm at all, I have to do this. And you have to take that job.”

Clarissa looked out at the small field. Ten acres upon which the whole of the farm rested.

“You should sue Evan.” Clarissa didn’t try to hide her hate and spite.

“I can’t afford to. Not anymore.”

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

29 Comments

  1. SAO
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 04:52:54

    I choked on the first sentence. Not only is it a convoluted way to introduce the MC, but in general, if a book starts with a problem for the MC, it’s the MC who needs the job. And if there’s a right-hand woman, she’s needed by the person to the left of her. So, to parse this, we have to figure out all the relationships, as well as the problem. You never want to make the reader work this hard in the first para.

    The real issue is that this is backstory. Nothing happens, except Terry takes a phone call and cranks up her tractor. Further, nothing happens that impacts Terry. You’ve hinted that there’s some Evan, but Terry doesn’t do anything about it and more or less says she won’t. If Evan is a big part of the story, start by having her confront him in person. Don’t have conversations about him with secondary chars.

    Quibbles:
    I didn’t understand why Terry had to speak hypothetically. Sure, if you work for a company with a policy of not giving personal recommendations, it makes sense, but that’s not the case here.

    I hate promises. Why did Terry promise never to plow the back 40? and to whom? I have no patience with books where someone extracts a ridiculous promise and the MC cares about it. It’s a side point, and probably not important and maybe I wouldn’t have noticed if I’d loved the rest of this.

  2. Katie T
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 04:54:22

    Very slow start. No problems with the writing, but it’s very boring, frankly, for something titled “The Risen God.”

  3. Patricia
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 07:09:04

    You spend the first five paragraphs on a job reference call, then drop that and jump ahead several days. If you can just drop it and move on, the call is clearly not where the story starts. Cut it.

    Why shouldn’t your main character plow the field? What is so terrible about alfalfa and what makes grazing superior? This dilemma does not make sense to me.

    The rather mundane situations you have depicted do not seem to fit with the provocative title. Maybe the first page is too early to insist on that, but the two will need to converge soon or the reader will feel misled.

    One last quibble: the raven gives Terry “a gimlet stare.” I can’t picture what this looks like. I am familiar with the gimlet mixed drink, however.

  4. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 07:33:58

    Thanks, everyone. I’ve been very worried about this introductory segment, and now I know I was right to worry. My purpose here was to establish two issues… that Terry is so broke that she’s even unable to care for her best friend, and that she has a long-standing and overwhelming agreement with her deceased parents and her best friend to never plow that field.

    The reason the field isn’t to be plowed is because there’s a living dead guy under it, which she finds when she plows it. It’s her family’s curse to protect that underground “tomb” at all costs. I’m attempting to show that, if times weren’t desperate for her, Terry wouldn’t have done it. It was either plow the 40 or lose the farm completely.

    Clearly, I need to find a shorter, stronger way to establish that. I appreciate all of your comments more than you know!

  5. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 07:35:38

    Sorry, I did forget to mention, gimlet can also mean “piercing, penetrating, stabbing”. A gimlet stare is a penetrating or piercing gaze.

  6. Angela
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 07:52:02

    I did think it was a bit slow to start, and I admit I wondered about the title versus what was happening. I figured it would come up soon though. I like the premise that you mention in your comments though, and I’d definitely be interested in reading more of that. I think there’s room to improve this beginning to pull me in even more. We can definitely learn about the problems and reason she plowed the field after we get started in the actual story, I think (though I’m not averse to flashbacks as I know some people are – YMMV).

    @SAO

    I didn’t understand why Terry had to speak hypothetically. Sure, if you work for a company with a policy of not giving personal recommendations, it makes sense, but that’s not the case here.

    I don’t know about a lot of other places, but in my state it’s illegal to ask a current/former employer anything other than how long they were there, the pay they were at, and maybe if they’d hire the employee back. Though I think even the last is not allowed. So this didn’t strike me as out of the realm of possibility at all.

  7. Naomi
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 08:12:03

    I was very confused by the beginning.

    Maybe if you have the MC (dressed in very old clothes) and the friend looking at the tomb (which is pretty interesting), they’re standing in the field, and the people coming to plow the field turn up.

    The MC tells the friend that she found a new job, and the MC wants the friend to take it.

    No backstory ( maybe one short sentence if you absolutely must), no overlong descriptions of the farm. We see it in bits and pieces as the MC sees it. What’s her goal here? To get the field plowed? I’m not getting any hint of conflict, of how that goal is thwarted. Maybe while they were looking at the tomb you could layer in that there’s a curse, which adds to the conflict.

    Another idea is to have a prologue to let the reader in on it, let them see the curse being spoken in the first place. What would hook your reader. Then streamline your writing. The problem with your first paragraph is that you mention three different people. Only mention one. You cold have deleted the tag on the first line and been better off for it.

    Keep writing!

  8. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 08:15:07

    It’s a very long book, probably going to complete at around 120k words. I figured that a bit of a long start to establish her financial difficulties and why the book starts with her doing something against her nature would be alright… but I have obsessed about it ever since. :p

    It’s very much against her nature to have betrayed her parents and the family “legacy” by plowing that field. I wanted to establish two things with this. One, the strength of her commitment not to plow it, and the desperate state of her finances that is causing her to breach that promise. Two, the relationship she has with her friend, who dies later in the story but without a lot of interaction between them. This death sort of brings home for her the true depth of what she has undertaken by raising a God and nursing him back to health.

    Through the early parts of the story, she is having a lot of difficulty accepting the reality of what has happened and the larger implications.

    But I think that you ladies (or guys) are right. I need to start at the point where she hits the tomb covering with the plow and digs up what she thinks at first is a corpse (and then thinks is a joke being played on her when it grabs her).

    A redraw of that entire first section might help me bring in these other aspects of why she was doing it and the strength of her life-long friendship with Clarissa.

  9. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 08:23:53

    Angela is correct, in most states, it’s illegal for employers to say anything except how long they worked there, their pay grade, and that’s usually it. No more. But once in a while, people, though mutual agreement, will “hypothetically” it.

    But I think I’ll just cut the part about the discussion with the new employer, and maybe have her mention in passing, “I know you got the job, Clarissa.” In the larger picture, I had felt the discussion with the new employer was a nice way to express Terry’s love for her friend and her sorrow at losing her as an employee. But I think I’ll just cut that whole part out.

    Naomi, I think the “prologue” idea is great. I definitely intend to use it. That’s a much better way to establish that the “promise” to not dig up the back 40 is a family responsibility that goes back to generations long prior to the current events. In fact, I think the idea is phenomenal and does a much better job of establishing the importance of her agreement to never dig it up.

  10. Caro
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 09:25:43

    You have a smooth writing style, Shannon, and a way of painting a picture that I like. That said, I agree with others that I had a hard time figuring out what was going on in the first paragraph. I had to read it a couple of times to figure it out. And that’s not a good way to hook a reader.

    I won’t rehash anymore of what others have said, but I did want to bring up something I had trouble nailing down. What kind of book is this? You have a very strong secondary character in Clarissa – almost too strong IMHO for an opening scene. I’m busy as a reader trying to figure out Terry and bond with her and whatever her problem is. But first I’ve got the job interview that involves Clarissa and then the interaction between them. So I”m thinking… hm. Is this a women’s fiction story? A gal pal story? Should I be bonding with both of them?

    Then you introduce this Evan cat – which seems to be the source of much conflict and I thought – ah ha! Here’s your story. This whatever conflict is the heart of your story… that’s what I’m thinking as a reader. So I think – well, maybe this is a romance. And Clarissa’s is just the sidekick friend.

    Then you write a bit about the bigger picture about a God and Terry having to raise him and Clarissa dying and this book being over 120,000 words, and I’m even more confused. I’m not a big hardcore “this must fit into a specific genre” kinda gal. I can appreciate stories that fall outside of the box. But at this point, I’m totally clueless on what kind of journey you want to take me on.

    I know that you will use your title and cover and blurb and synopsis to define your story so readers know what they’re getting, but it’s also good to be clear at the beginning on what kind of story this is. Right now, I’m just kind of confused and after sampling, would probably not buy.

  11. Lori
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 09:36:41

    I thought from the title and the promise to never plow, you succinctly spelled out what was going to happen. She’s going to plow because finanacially she has to and she’s going to discover a life changing secret.

    That said, I agree that you have to cut the phone call because it doesn’t work. And I know a gimlet stare because my mother was the master of them so it didn’t throw me at all.

    Starting a little further along makes sense. This already shows good bones and I’d love to read about a risen God (that’s so totally my kind of book).

    Good luck!

  12. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 09:40:40

    Thanks, Caro!

    It’s a paranormal romance, but it’s intended to have a very strong plot. I had wanted to establish a strong friendship between Clarissa and Terry because Clarissa dies, which becomes a strong source of internal conflict for Terry at a later point (and conflict with Gwyn, her love interest).

    The full title, including subtitle is: The Risen God… Gwyn ap Nudd has returned for the souls of man…

    The story is predominantly the love interest between Terry and Gwyn. In the meantime, he must reestablish himself as a psychopomp (usher of the souls of the dead to paradise).

    So it’s mostly romance, but with a strong plot and underlying themes.

    The essential story is that Terry finds Gwyn when she finally breaks this centuries-long prohibition against disturbing that field. He has become little more than a dessicated corpse, so she nurses him back to health. In the meantime, she falls for him and he for her.

    Once recovered physically, he must then recover his horse, his horn, and his hounds and take his “job” back up, because having no psychopomps has left humanity trending towards evil. But there is a cabal that is against him. It was they who buried him to begin with, and they who hid his horn.

    So the romance plot is the thickest, strongest thread. There are trials and tribulations for their love along the way… but there’s also this underlying story of how and why a God was buried and what he must do to fully restore himself to power… and where will their romance be once that happens?

  13. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 09:44:28

    This, by the way, is my current blurb (subject to change, obviously, it’s a work in progress :p):

    Gwyn ap Nudd has been asleep for centuries. It has always been his job to escort souls into the Afterlife. Because he was kept from his duty, souls have been left to wander our world, lost and confused. They are forced to reincarnate, rather than spending their Afterlife in Paradise, where they belong.

    Terry promised never to plow the back field. To keep the farm, she must break her promise. She’s heard the witches say that Death Itself was buried there, but she isn’t superstitious, and she doesn’t believe in any God.

    Or at least, she didn’t…

    Together, they must restore Gwyn to his former glory-and his great work. The souls of the lost cry out, searching for their way home. Only Gwyn can guide them there, and only Terry can protect him from the darkness that once buried him alive.

  14. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 09:50:28

    I do think the phone call has to go. But I think starting from the time that he’s buried there and a man and his wife being given the “great commission” of keeping the burial place from ever being disturbed might be the best choice. Then I can move straight into Terry sitting on the tractor and Clarissa lying about getting the job. Terry can then tell her that she knows from the phone call that Clarissa got the job.

    That cuts off a significant part of the first page, without doing any damage, I think… lol. Sometimes every little decision feels so BIG.

    I have plenty of other instances of crows showing up, so I don’t necessarily neeeed one this early on in the story. And I think starting out in the dark will also add that sense I’m trying to create of a bit of creepiness to the early part of the story.

  15. theo
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 10:19:09

    I have to agree with the comments about this being backstory and nothing happening. I know you’re trying to set the stage, but you don’t want your reader’s eyes crossing halfway through the first page. They won’t read on.

    I have some issues with the grammar and punctuation here as well as some of the descriptions.

    The cell phone’s blinked and there was silence, the call now over.

    Are you saying both cell phones blinked? Mine doesn’t. I just end the call. Shorten this sentence somehow. ‘She ended the call,’ works great.

    The day promised yet more rain, but for the moment, at three in the morning, the field was dry.

    The ‘day’ isn’t promising anything at 3am. Unless you have a full moon, it can be hard to see your hand in front of your face at 3am in an area where there are no superfluous lights from residential areas, cities or huge mall complexes. So the weather report might have indicated rain for the day, but at 3am, the only thing she should be seeing is…almost nothing. This is another opportunity to give your reader a sense of place. With the right description, your story could start here.

    “Terry sat on the cold, damp seat of the tractor. Three in the morning and still so dark, the eerie sense of someone out there waiting, washed over her. She’d felt it often growing up, when she’d walked the field unable to sleep. Fallow, untouched for as long as she could remember, perhaps the field itself now watched her prepare to do the one thing she’d promised her late parents she would never do. But she had to pay bills. For Christ’s sake, she had to eat. No money, no chance of any, working this field was her only hope.”

    Part of the reason I bring this up is because, at 120K, your writing better be as tight as you can possibly make it. Very few agents will want to read a story that length unless the writing is exciting and the story pulls the reader into it and along. Right now, this does neither. The old adage of Kill Your Darlings is still one of the most important.

    From your description of the story, it sounds interesting, but at the slow pace of this first page, there’s no way I’d be able to read 120K words like this. Revise, revise, revise.

  16. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 10:31:25

    This story is nowhere near the proofreading stage (clearly). So I don’t mind admitting that “the cell phone’s blinked” is missing a word. It’s supposed to be “the cell phone’s screen blinked”. Mine does when the other person ends the call before you do.

    Again, though, I don’t think I’ll even include that bit.

    Thanks for the thoughts on tightening it up, those were very helpful!

  17. Darlynne
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 10:41:37

    I enjoyed your writing and agree with the recommendations about where/when to start; your comment about opening with Terry on the tractor sounds great. As much as I’m not a fan of prologues (please don’t use italics for the whole thing), that would be a perfect place to show the agreement Terry’s parents made.

    By the way, I knew immediately that plowing the field was because of something buried in it. And I love that the MC’s name is Terry (or at least that’s what she’s called for now); I am a fan of simple, clean names.

    Your blurb and the other information you provided make me hope this manuscript sees the light of day when it’s finished. I would definitely read.

    Thank you for sharing.

  18. gin
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 13:41:06

    FWIW, I would NOT do the prologue. It’s like you’re giving away the punch line before you’re telling the joke. It’s okay that the reader doesn’t know that there’s a god buried in the field. Let the reader find out when the protagonist does. It’s more interesting that way.

    You really don’t need to set it up. All you need is a protagonist with a problem — she’s got to plow the field, because she needs the money, even if it means breaking a promise to her parents. That’s a great lead-in to a story. Sympathetic character with a problem we can related to, but just a little off-kilter, so the reader is reading on to find out why the parents elicited the promise and what will happen when the promise is broken (because of course something will happen, or you wouldn’t have mentioned it). And then, bam, she hits the tomb, and there’s a potentially scary creature, and the reader is thinking, “hmm, so that’s why the parents didn’t want her to plow the field. I wonder how bad this is going to be, and how she’s going to deal with it.” You WANT the reader wondering stuff. If you’ve already answered those questions in the prologue, it’s less interesting when she hits the tomb, because the reader already knows what to expect.

  19. Shannon
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 16:04:16

    Thanks Darlynne and gin.

    I’m looking at the prologue not beginning where they bury him, but more where the edict is given to never allow the field to be disturbed, and the fear of the “white people” left in the land of the natives, knowing that they must protect this bit of land.

    The natives, however, will help them. Because there’s a sort of universal fear and misunderstanding of death, so where they expected to be encountering resistance, they find succor, provided that they continue to keep their promise to prevent the land from ever being disturbed.

    You are right in that I definitely do NOT want to give away what’s really there. But there’s sort of a buildup to that, anyway… each chapter is headed with a brief snippet of a mysterious book, The Book of Forbidden Knowledge of Gwyn the Hunter.

    The purpose of the prologue won’t be to tell what’s there, but to display the ancient, powerful, superstitious fear that elicited the “promise” never to disturb the land. I want to establish that it goes well beyond just a promise, until modern day has sort of watered it down into “promise never to plow that land”… “sure, mom and dad. sure. since it means so much to you…”

  20. Jane Lovering
    Apr 14, 2013 @ 02:25:57

    If they didn’t want the land ploughed (as we say here in England), then why not put something on it that they wouldn’t want to have destroyed? Like the house? Why leave 40 tempting acres of land? Or a barn?. Or a fold yard? Seems like mum and dad were just asking for trouble…
    I like the style, Shannon, and I admire your vision for your work!

  21. Shannon
    Apr 14, 2013 @ 07:44:46

    Hi Jane!

    The agreement is that the land can’t be disturbed. In fact, I even go into Gwyn’s state of mind while buried… He hears the encroachment of life, but it’s all too quiet to drag him from his stupor so that he can dig himself out. The spell keeps him buried and “asleep”. But the building of a barn or the noise of equipment running over it would rouse him.

    As it happens, even the sound of plowing has become so familiar that, like some people, he sleeps through that as she’s plowing. It’s her digging him up that finally awakens him.

    So the promise goes beyond not plowing it, the promise is to never disturb it in any way. They allow animals to graze there, because they have never had to cut it off from wild animals so over time they relaxed a bit on their vow… but they still never disturb the land with any sort of loud noises.

    You wouldn’t wake your spouse by hammering all day. Don’t do it to the death god! :D

    Thanks everyone, you all have been a great help, you have no idea how much! This has been a phenomenal experience.

  22. JenM
    Apr 14, 2013 @ 11:24:56

    Your description of the book sounds very intriguing to me. It’s just the sort of paranormal that I love. I have a huge weakness for necromancy, psychopomps, Death gods, etc. so I’m just the sort of reader you are going for. That said, my biggest problem with this was that by the end of the passage, I was thinking contemporary romance, not paranormal. The only hint of paranormal was the raven, and then only because I’ve read enough of the genre to recognize that as a portent.

    I don’t know that a prologue is necessary. I usually like them (I like flashbacks also), but I know authors are actively advised against them. I think that anyone who has read the description, and picked up the book or downloaded a sample, will give you at least a few pages to develop your story as long as the writing is tight and the tone fits with your description and main storyline.

  23. Shannon
    Apr 14, 2013 @ 14:30:43

    Well, I’m thinking that fantasy and paranormal readers, as a generalization, tend to be a bit more forgiving of “flashback type” prologues.

    However, I don’t think I’ll call it a prologue, I’m considering it just a short opener to chapter 1 before moving into the leading lady’s viewpoint.

    Although, as I said, I do have a passage or two from The Book at the beginning of the chapter, which may suffice as a ‘prologue’ of sorts. Except those writing The Book don’t know what ultimately happened to Gwyn.

  24. Emily
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 13:26:36

    I thought this was an inspirational until I read the comments. The number 40, emphasis on promises and keeping promises, and the title The Risen God all seemed sort of Christian to me. Just a thought.

  25. Shannon
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 13:55:59

    Hi Emily,

    I know what you mean. I thought that about the title, too… but it really fits and I think the subtitle dispels any christian ideas immediately. Also, the opening salvo paints a sect of christianity as one of the two ‘bad guy’ groups in the book. You’ll hear about the christians invading and demonizing gods well before you hear about The Back 40.

    There are definitely things in place on the cover (a skull, for example), and “Gwyn ap Nudd has returned for the souls of man” as a byline), that discourage the belief that it has anything to do with christianity (aside from some of the bad guys hiding within that religion to do their nefarious work).

  26. Aunestee
    Apr 20, 2013 @ 03:01:35

    What is evil? What is good what is bad? Do people really mean to be evil or is it something they must do to survive? I’m watching a documentary where soldiers in war torn countries rape women before killing them. But when they were 6/7 they were given a gun and told if they didn’t kill their parents, they would be killed themselves. Search Kony or child soldiers.

    Nowadays, not many people are comfortable with the term evil. People commit heineous acts because of education, aka, failure in getting to know the other side, and just a general reduction of resources. The only people who are truly evil for the sake of it is I guess sociopaths. But then, they were born that way. Would you hate a handicap person because they were born that way? You need to get the definition of evil right. what exactly that is, not many know.

  27. Aunestee
    Apr 20, 2013 @ 03:15:49

    @Aunestee:

    Sorry, I meant because of a LACK of education. Exactly how evil is increasing in this world is a mystery to me when many believe that its exactly going the other way round. Maybe more people are being held accountable thanks to the cameras on our phones and various video sharing sites which show to us the evil side of things. But then again, what is it?

  28. Shannon
    Apr 20, 2013 @ 06:15:45

    For the purposes of the story, I would say that evil is the purposeful choice to prefer hate to love. The purposeful choice to pass on hate, rather than love, to future generations. Evil is the choice to hurt or harm others, no matter your reasoning. Because in the story, there is an innate spiritual nature that shows the way. The longer that you’ve been reincarnating without “touching base” with the source of that innate spiritual nature, the more detached you become from it and the easier it becomes to choose (and teach) hate.

    This, of course, is the goal of the bad guys. To increase the things in the world that they can feed off of… like hate and fear.

    This progression is the most sinister and obvious of all of the “problems” arising from the burying of the various gods and goddesses. But there’s also the problem of the seasons beginning to run together, because the Dagda can’t play his harp to remind the seasons to change. So unseasonable weather is because of that. Hopefully, the books will turn into a series around this general idea.

  29. Aunestee
    Apr 21, 2013 @ 18:02:19

    Sometimes, doing the right thing is a lot harder, takes more time, energy and resources. Hence why people knowingly commit crime. Because of modern day awareness, the collection of data that are then analyzed, age old problem are now becoming solvable. Remember, more women report rape nowadays then ever before. There was a theory going around that crime was increasing, but not so. More women just report it then ever before.

    The choice to pass on hate, can be regarded as prejudice that parents pass on to their children; or just something that older people pass on to the younger generation. Thats the only thing I can think of; and frankly, even that is on the decline.

    I’m not really sure about what you mean becoming detached. All people ever need is education or awareness that what they’re thinking is bad. Not all people are born evil. Just because they were born in a prejudiced family doesn’t mean that there is no hope for them.

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