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Monthly Archives: April 2014

The second half of the PitchSlam contest has concluded. I got good feedback on my first 250 words, and it addressed something I was worried about: people not understanding that the MCs were employees of the hospital, not patients. I’ll post my first 250 with the feedback I received. Feel free to leave a comment (good, bad, or ugly!). I’ll be heading into revisions over the weekend, no doubt, but want to let the feedback simmer for a little bit so I come at things with fresh eyes.

First 250 Words of Rescue Me (LGBT Contemp. Romance):

Glancing across the emergency room, I watched my husband’s right arm twitch. He’d been an abuser of anything he could get his hands on back in the day, and suffered nerve damage in his right arm as a result. When he first started here as a basic level EMT, no one thought he’d last a month. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic; Creighton took a chance on him because he needed a job to meet the requirements of probation.

“Earth to Jacoby.”

I glanced up at Hollister, my fellow EMT, friend and co-worker, as she settled into a chair beside me. Frowning, I returned my attention to Jimmy. He was dressed in his blue flight suit, ready to hop into Creighton One at any time. Creighton One was our flagship medical chopper and Jimmy’s pride and joy. He was animated, talking about something or another with fellow paramedic Anthony. Growling when Hollister tapped my shoulder, I shot her a dark look. “What?”

“Back off, Captain Grumpy Pants. We’ve gotta get our rig cleaned out before the next call. Stop ogling your man and let’s go.”

“I’m not ogling him, I’m watching him. He’s not acting right.”

“Whatever, Mortensen. Let’s get this over with.”

I reluctantly followed her out into the cold ambulance garage. Being an EMT was fun until it was time to clean the rigs. Besides, it took me away from Jimmy and I needed to keep an eye on him.


There are too many characters introduced in the first 250. It’s jarring and difficult to follow. Is there a way to work the backstory into action/dialogue as opposed to exposition? Doing so will make the narrative stronger and help it to stand out from the pack. Also, a lot of dialogue at the very beginning doesn’t give the reader a chance to immerse themselves in what you’ve built, they have to immediately try and keep up with who’s talking, what they’re talking about, and why. The lack of dialogue tags only adds to that problem. Focus on the here and now. We imagine someone sitting in the ER watching their ill loved one wouldn’t be thinking about coworkers, living arrangements, how everyone knows one another, and jumpsuits.

Revised 250:

Glancing across the emergency room, I watched my husband’s right arm twitch. He’d been an abuser of anything he could get his hands on back in the day and suffered nerve damage as a result. When he first started at Creighton University Hospital, no one thought he’d last a month. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic; Creighton took a chance on him because he needed a job to meet probation requirements.

In retrospect, I wasn’t sure why they took a chance on him. He wasn’t stable and he was at risk of losing the job more times than I can count. Still, he once he got clean and sober for the fourth time five years ago, he’d managed to stay that way. Granted, it took a cocktail of psych meds, but stability was stability in my mind.

Watching him, I was starting to think that cocktail had failed him. He’d been argumentative lately, paranoid, all signs that he’s off his meds again. Shaking my head, I dismissed the thought. We just had his meds evaluated and his doctor made no changes.

Then again, his right arm trembling like the San Andreas fault didn’t bode well for him being on his meds. Maybe he missed his tremor medication this morning. And his anxiety meds. I’d have to check when we got home tonight.

“Earth to Jacoby.”

I glanced at Hollister Macintosh, my friend and co-worker as she settled into a chair beside me. Frowning, I returned my attention to Jimmy.

I am participating in PitchSlam a different kind of writing contest.  In this one, you submit your 35 word pitch, receive feedback, then your first 250, receive feedback, revise and submit and entire thing in the final round.  I’m posting this here so that I can help others with their pitches and they can help me with mine =)

Full Query:

Jacoby Mortensen married a guy who should be dead.

Being a primary caregiver is always tough, but when you’re also married to someone who should be dead, it can truly become unbearable. Jacoby Mortensen knows this first hand but lately, it’s been more of a challenge than ever.

Jacoby sometimes imagined how he’d meet his future spouse. But half-dead in a seedy back alley in Council Bluffs, Iowa, never once crossed his mind.  Getting attached to a seventeen-year-old John Doe went against every rule of paramedics. But the longer Jacoby sat at Jimmy’s bed side, the more attached he grew and they were married a year later.  No matter how many times Jimmy ran away, back to the drugs and the streets, Jacoby was at home, waiting for him. He took his vows seriously and, if that meant combing the streets trying to bring his husband home, so be it.  But when Jimmy goes off his meds again, Jacoby doesn’t think he’s strong enough to make the marriage work anymore.  Once he’s released from the psych ward, Jimmy promises to stay on his meds, but Jacoby doesn’t believe him.

Jimmy refuses to take care of himself and Jacoby is going slowly insane.  Jacoby sees it as his duty to keep his husband clean and sober.  Then, Jimmy goes behind Jacoby’s back and takes a job out in California. Jacoby doesn’t want to leave Iowa and start over.  But with Jimmy and his ex getting dangerously close to each other, Jacoby has to decide how much Jimmy means to him—and to what lengths he’ll go to keep the marriage together.

RESCUE ME is contemporary LGBT romance complete at 85,000 words.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

PitchSlam Pitch:

Jacoby knew when he married Jimmy life was going to be rough–Jimmy was a drug addict and alcoholic.  Then Jimmy goes off his psych meds…and Jacoby just might have to kill him.  

PitchSlam Feedback:

After reading your entry, we’ve found you could strengthen your pitch by addressing the following issues:

We feel you’re missing an opportunity to show the strength of their story. There seems to be grit, perhaps angst, and a lot of tension that you’re hinting at, but these things aren’t coming through clearly.

Suggestion: start with the basic format for a strong pitch & personalize it from there. When [x] happens, [MC] must [y] or else [z]. Fill in the blanks with the core elements which make your story unique. Show why a reader should care about this struggle between Jacoby & Jimmy. Choose STRONG verbs.

YA Paranormal Romance

With school nearing it’s end and graduation looming, this has been a busy semester. Reading time has been scarce, but lately, I’ve been digging out part of my days to read. I started Evade ages ago and finally finished it tonight.


Evade is part of the Ever trilogy. I reviewed Ever a while back on my blog, and it’s a must read!  The story follows Ever, Toby, and various friends and extended family on a journey that will suck you and won’t let go. Evade is the second book in this trilogy and I can’t wait for the final installment of this amazing series!


Now, on to Evade!


Evade picks up where Ever left off.  The reader follows Ever as she tries to live a normal life, off on a vacation to Mexico before starting college in the fall.  Naturally, nothing is easy for this girl, and she runs into her least favorite person while trying to have fun. She is then kidnapped by an unknown gang who want her soul.  She eventually ends up back home with her family, but the worst is yet to come.  The reader learns, along with Ever, things about the family and Ever’s past that will boggle the mind.  With this news out in the open, the real adventure begins. 


Evade takes the reader from California all the way to Seattle before leaving the book on a cliffhanger that will leave you pleading with the author for more.  I very much enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the third and final installment of this magnificent series. Jessa’s strength is that the reader can guess all they want what’s going on…but you’ll always be surprised.  It would be easy to give the reader the obvious but Jessa doesn’t do that.  Instead, she keeps you guessing as you read.  The MC, Ever, is also not your typical damsel in distress.  She finally takes matters into her own hand and the reader is left to guess if Ever did the right thing or not.  No ‘save me! rescue me!’ from that girl!  And while the book is technically YA, the characters are all mature and don’t come off as childish or typical in any way, shape, or form. Jessa has a definite talent as a writer and you will be swept away as soon as you crack the first page of her books.


5 of 5 stars to Jess Russo and Evade!