Sunday, November 8, 2015

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Proctor Rev 1

Name:  KD Proctor (please call me Kelley)
Genre:  New Adult Contemporary Romance
Title:  Until the End

There’s a TV commercial for carpet cleaner that always makes me laugh.  A woman is driving a car, she hits the brakes and her travel mug tumbles out of the cup holder.  The lid isn’t secure—naturally—and the commercial suddenly shifts into slow motion.  A tidal wave of liquid rolls out of her cup while she sits in shock.  I laugh every time because nothing spills like that in real life. 

Guess what? It does.

Only a tidal wave isn’t accurate.  Because I just had a freakin’ coffee tsunami when I slammed on the breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of me on the interstate. 

And now everything is soaked.

The floor mats.

My Milton University School of Medicine tote bag.  

Even the passenger door.

“Son of a bitch!”

Red lights flash around me like bulbs on a Christmas tree as morning rush-hour traffic has now come to a complete stop on the interstate. My head falls to the steering wheel. 

It’s not even seven-o’clock and I already want a do-over for the day.

My fingers tap nervously against my knees hoping the traffic will ease up in a second or two.  This is my punishment for oversleeping on the one morning I need to be on campus at the butt crack of dawn.  My med school mentor Dr. Phillips—for the record, I was assigned to him, I didn’t pick him—has a motto:  If you’re on time, you’re late.  And as his mentee, he holds me to a higher standard than everyone else.   

And I hate it. 

“Stop gawking, let’s go!”

Good one, Elizabeth.  Yelling always gets traffic to move.

I bite my thumbnail.  The list I need accomplish this morning is already a mile long. Unless this traffic jam clears, I’m screwed. One hand on the wheel and the other in my now completely soaked canvas bag, I feel around for my phone.  Coming up empty handed, I dump the contents on the front seat.  I find it wedged in a notebook full of my lab research notes. 

Thankfully my notes and my phone survived the tsunami unscathed.

“Happy first day of the semester!  You’re calling me to see if I wanted coffee from the Beanery aren’t you?”  Cody Jefferson asks in his usual cheery tone. 

“I wish.  Are you on campus?”

“Of course I am.  I’m at the receptionist’s desk spying on the newbies.  Half of them look like they’re about to puke.”

“I seem to remember you actually did puke last year,” I tease.

“Bite me.  Seriously, hurry up and get over here so we can spy on them together before you have to be all official and shit with your mentor coordinator duties.”

“Can’t.  I’m stuck on the expressway.”  Traffic starts to move, but not fast enough. 

He lets out a heavy sigh.  “You’re juggling with fire, girl.”

“Isn’t it playing with fire?” 

“Tomato, to-mah-toe. You keep this up and that fire’s gonna scorch your behind.  You’re making the rest of us look bad, Miss Future Neurologist.  What time did you finally leave the lab last night? Eleven?” 

“Three?  Three-thirty?”  My neurology internship starts in a few weeks and I want to be ready for anything they throw my way.  The late nights are worth it, even if I overslept a few times during summer classes and Dr. Phillips threatened to take away my late night lab access. 

I hope.

“If you’re going to be up until three, at least be up doing something fun.”

“That is fun. To me anyway,” I say with a giggle.  My stomach rumbles and I tear off a bite from the bagel I made this morning.  A blob of melted strawberry cream cheese drips on my white lab coat. 

“Damn it,” I mumble with my mouth full.  I hold the bagel in my teeth as I wipe the bright pink blob away.  Fran-freakin’-tastic.  I am a walking, talking hot mess this morning.  Let’s hope that when I give the welcome speech to the first year students, they’re focused on my face, not on the stain.

“Is he there?” I ask, licking my finger clean. 

“I haven’t seen him yet, but you know he’s always here early.”

Of course he is.  I swear Dr. Phillips must sleep in his office. 

“I need you to cover for me.”

“Elizabeth…” he warns.

“I just need you to make copies for the mentors so they know who they’re mentoring.  It’s in my network file drive all ready to go.  Please?” Desperation makes me beg.  Pathetic, I know. 

His silence twists my stomach into giant knots. 

“Fine, but if I’m stuck testing fecal samples because of this…”

“Thanks, Cody!” I say before I toss my phone on the passenger seat.  Stretching my neck I can see an exit up ahead.  It isn’t the one I need, but having grown up in Camden, I know all the short cuts. Taking matters into my own hands, I illegally drive on the shoulder.  My eyes dart to the rearview mirror, praying a cop doesn’t pull me over. 

I check the clock again.  Damn it.  I’ll never make it if I park in the student lot.  I turn the corner and my shoulders relax a little.  There’s an empty meter right outside the doors of the medical school building.  Finally, my day is starting to turn around. 

The light turns red, forcing me to wait.   My eyes burn into that parking space.

“You are mine…” I whisper. 

If my calculations are correct, I can get from the meter into lecture hall with a few minutes to spare. A few minutes is good.  And technically on-time.

I crack my neck from side to side and when the light turns green I punch the gas pedal.  Blinker on, I turn to check my blind spot when a silver, all-sport SUV slides into the space, nearly taking out my passenger side headlight. 

“Oh fuck no.  No.  No.  NO!!”  I growl, punching the horn.

I lower the passenger window.  A tall guy in a bright purple polo and dark rimmed glasses slides out of the drivers seat. 

“Hey!”  I shout through the open window.  Who in the hell steals a parking spot when a car has its blinker on?  The guy doesn’t look, instead fumbling with something in the back seat. When he slings his messenger bag over his shoulders, his shirt tugs in all the right places temporarily turning my anger into delight with those sculpted back muscles.

Holy Beautiful Deltoids, Batman.

Cars pass by me, honking as I’m still blocking traffic.  I snap back from my Human Anatomy refresher to the asshole who stole my spot.  My eyes narrow at the Greek letter sticker in his back window. 

Frat boy.  Figures.

I bark out the window again, “Hey!  Frat Boy! Did you not see my blinker?  You damn near hit me.”

He turns around and gives me a grin toothpaste commercials would plaster on a billboard.  That smile, the right amount of jaw stubble, and happiness oozing out of his eyes?  Oh Jesus H. Christ.  He is trouble. 

With a capital T.

He rests his hands on the passenger side door, not seeming to care that it’s still wet from my coffee.  He leans forward slightly.  I had no idea forearm muscles could be so beautiful. 

“I honestly didn’t see you.  Are you okay?”

Okay?  How about ‘I’m sorry’?”  I look at the clock.  I no longer have minutes to spare, but seconds.  “Now I’m officially late.”


  1. Just want to clarify a few things for folks based on feedback:

    1. Stanford, the BFF, is now Cody. (Suggestion from Jenn)
    2. I trimmed out the getting ready/dad convo (suggestion from Brenda and Lisa). But don't worry! Dad isn't gone...he'll be back in later chapters. :)
    3. The feedback I got helped me to look at my draft again and question a few things, so I made some tweaks here and there to reflect that.

    I am not 100% sold on the opening line/paragraph. Almost all of my WIP's start with someone talking. And I am trying to not do that this time around. Is this enough of a hook or does it fall flat?

    Thanks in advance, everyone! :)

  2. I love having more time with Cody and seeing the hottie in the SUV. The opening does need some more work. The first line doesn't hook. Come up with a clever line that will draw your reader into the story. The TV commercial bit doesn't hook enough. What are thoughts? You could find a hook in what she's thinking or with an action before she thinks of the TV commercial. Something like ...

    My problems were piling up like used surgical knives on a tray. And being late wasn't an option. I slammed on my breaks barely hitting the car in front of me. The secured cap on my travel mug popped off, sloshing coffee over everything.

    I laughed. It was just like that stupid TV commercial...

    This is a horrible example, but I think it gives an idea of a "hook" and keeping the opening in action instead of "telling" us the coffee spilled it "shows" us.

  3. Kelley! Hi.

    I might be the outlier here, so get a general consensus, but I laughed out loud at that opening. It was so unexpected and really spoke to character to me. My only note about it is that I thiiiiiink tidal waves and tsunamis are the same thing? So if you keep it, you might want to just change "tidal wave" to "wave." Honestly, I've liked both of your openings, so if you come up with something else, I have total faith that it'll be just as funny as these have been. (Can you tell I'm a fan? Ahem.)

    REALLY fantastic, fearless revision, btw. I love the banter with Cody. These pages fly by now - they're tight and breezy and fun. And I'm so glad we got to see the GUY! I do wonder if the description of him could be as unexpected as the rest of it, though. Is he really just billboard perfect, or is there anything different and quirky about him, right off the bat, that she specifically responds to. Some way that he moves or specific article of clothing or unexpected way that he smiles. See if you can punch him up a little in the space you've got here. It would be great if the first impression we got of him was unforgettable, so we know without being told that this guy is going to be big trouble.

    Tiny notes:

    When I read "bagel I made," I thought she baked it. Maybe "bagel I toasted"?

    The "I hope" didn't immediately connect in my mind with the context of the paragraph before. It might be stronger just to delete it.

    AND that's all I've got for you. Sorry! I think this is great - can't wait to see where it goes next. :)

  4. Hey Kelley!

    Quick side comment – thanks for the note to connect on twitter. I’m not the most savvy social media gal, so the invite was much appreciated!! I’m now following you ☺

    Down to business!

    Here’s my disclaimer: All of my suggestions were SUPER nitpicky, so take them for what they're worth!

    Okay, I thought the beginning paragraph was hilarious. I was hooked by the first line. Who starts a book talking about a TV commercial?? No one!! That’s why I LOVED it! I might be on my own here, but I thought it totally worked. Maybe see what everyone else has to say.

    I like how you reworked the opening scene and think it works. I liked the last one too, but I think it’s because you’re a great writer, so pretty much anything works. But this version does move things along nicely.

    She comes across as sort of scatter-brained/graceless/klutzy/disorganized to me, with the spilled coffee, running late, shaking the contents of her purse out on the front seat, the blob of cream cheese, cracking her neck... Did you want me to think that of her? I wasn’t sure since you reference that she’s a hot mess “today”. I think if she’s normally pretty organized and stuff, maybe mention that none of what is happening is normally who she is. Then I would totally get all of those references in light of it just being “one of those days”.

    You use the word “delight” when Elizabeth’s taken out of her rage with the SUV dude’s defined back muscles. I wonder if “intrigue” or a lighter word would be better here, to keep with the emotion she’s currently feeling. I rarely go from rage or fuming, straight to delight. There’s usually a middle feeling, like sudden interest or attraction or appeal. “Delight” sort of took me out of the scene.

    The line “…gives me a grin toothpaste commercials would plaster on a billboard” reads a little weird to me. Is it the commercials that plaster grins on their billboards? Are there billboards in commercials? Maybe a toothpaste company would plaster his smile on their billboards, or a commercial would plaster his smile center screen.

    Like Jenn, I would love to see something unique about him right when we’re introduced. Maybe he wears glasses, which accentuates his jaw line, or maybe a book he’s holding shows us what he’s into. The fact that he’s a frat boy does tell us a lot. Maybe we all just want more of him, because he’s the love interest?!

    I say, in your next revision lets bend the rules a little and have you give us a few more words so we can see how this confrontation plays out??? (sneaky face)

  5. Hi Kelley!

    I seriously loved reading this revision!!! Her voice still kills me! I do like that this time, we’re thrown right into her unfortunate morning! I think it was a good call moving Dad to a later part of the story.

    One thing, if you want to keep the TV commercial, I would consider using something besides carpet cleaner, such as stain remover since everything she owns is getting soaked in addition to the floor mats. Plus they’re in a car, and I picture carpet cleaner to be something used mainly in a home!

    Super picky: I don’t think you need the “And” in front of “And as his mentee, he holds me to a higher standard…”

    Also super picky: My research advisor has a rule that your lab research notes and notebook should always stay in the lab and should never be brought home. I think this is pretty standard for labs in general since it would absolutely suck if years worth of notes were lost…or ruined by coffee!

    I must know who this man with the beautiful deltoids is!!! More pages please?

    I wish I had more comments for you!


  6. Kelley~

    I was looking forward to reading your revision this week but WOW. Your edits are awesome. I’m sorry if I didn’t critique much (there’s not any I can note that hasn’t already been mentioned) but here are my thoughts anyway:

    - Adore that opening! It just fits perfectly! It’s funny and quirky and totally makes me want more. If I were a random reader, you bet I’d be reading on. ;)
    - Really like the easy flow of the details especially on the explanation about oversleeping and being a mentee for Dr. Phillips.
    - Elizabeth’s voice just comes off as much stronger for me this time compared to last week.
    - Like I said then, Stanford-now-Cody seems like a fun character! I like his and Elizabeth’s banter here even more! In your first pass though, you said he was her best friend, which you didn’t mention in this one. Was that intentional? Still, I think it would help to have a little background about him and his relationship with your MC.
    - OMG THE NEW ENDING. LOVEEEEE. The fact that she says deltoids then mentions an anatomy book just makes her such a realistic med student.
    - I’m so happy you were able to squeeze in the fated meeting with with the love interest!

    I’m already excited to read again next week! <3

  7. Hi Kelley,

    So I totally agree with what everyone says who liked your new beginning… and I even agree with Brenda who thinks it may need a stronger hook…because though I really liked the new beginning—I totally snort laughed but if I didn’t already know and was already rooting for Elizabeth (since this is my second read through) I don’t know if this beginning would of gripped my attention as a fresh reader… just food for thought: what do you think of reorganizing some of your lovely words… starting it with that great line below:

    It’s not even seven-o’clock and I already want a do-over for the day.

    Red lights flash around me like bulbs on a christmas tree as morning rush-hour traffic has now come to a complete stop in the interstate.My head falls to the steering wheel.

    My fingers tap….cont’d from here…I just don’t know if the all the above is necessary… you kind of say it all in that sentence and the physical placement in the sentences after that...
    Just a thought…. And thank you for letting us know DAD is safe;D yeah!

    So your revise is pretty great so I don’t have much except for small details…

    -like referring to the canvas bag later as a tote bag..I would just stick with same terms unless these are separate bags?
    -the Paragraph with :

    My neurology internships starts in a few weeks and I was to be….The late nights are worth it, even if I over selpt….and Dr. Phillips threatened to take away my late night lab access.

    I hope.

    This kind of confused me… Elizabeth says she thinks it is worth the risk of even getting her pass taken away for the productive nights of study… but in the end she thinks “I hope” she hopes to get it taken away? I know she doesn’t mind risking it to learn but she actually wants it taken away too?

    And just a note on big picture, other than getting on the bad side of Dr. Phillips, is there anything else dire/on the line that Elizabeth is worried about? I wish I can sense more of what the inciting hook is for the storyline. Maybe something to think about…and I hope with the next revise LOVE to see and hear more of the HOT-Parking-SPOT Stealer heehe.

    Thank you and can’t wait to read more!

    Devyn Makin