Chelsea DeVries

One Last Breath by Chelsea DeVries

I’m pleased to introduce my memoir, One Last Breath. One Last Breath is the story of life, death, and the undying hope of first love. At the young age of twenty-one, I woke up on August 11, 2012 and couldn’t breathe. It felt as though I was breathing through a straw or an elephant was sitting on my chest. It was the first real near-death experience. The memoir introduces my near-death experience and then takes the reader down memory lane through different illnesses I faced throughout my childhood: premature birth, lazy eye, and strep throat, the flu, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and all leading up to my diagnosis with a thyroid disorder. Through chapter length anecdotes, we see how I faced childhood bullying and self-esteem issues. With a face to face visit from Jesus, I get saved and start living my life with a greater purpose. Call it divine intervention or meant to be but in my freshman year of college, I meet Judas, and fall in love for the first time in my life. The story follows not only my near-death experience, but a second chance of life, and my undying hope for true love with Judas. The story runs about 74, 747 words.. I’m a recent graduate of Saint Leo University and hold a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in International Hospitality.My first two YA novels were self-published by Outskirts Press: Dream Girl (2006) and Jessica’s Choice (2008). I currently work as a freelance writer for Outloud Multimedia.


The Book Doctors: You have an incredible true story.  We’d like to say how sorry we are that you had to live through all that.  The silver lining is, this is absolutely the stuff of memoirs.  Our brave heroine overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to find happiness. We have divine intervention, Jesus, Judas, a lazy eye, a disordered thyroid and, of course, true love.  With a twist that it may be Judas and not Prince Charming.  We also like your title and how you plant its flag right at the beginning of your pitch.  But that first line is just so familiar, not just in content, but in the actual language.  Think of all the stories that are about life, death, and first love.   We think that it would be great to take us a little further down the road of your near-death experience.  We’ve heard so much about what that is like.  There’s a light you’re walking toward it, there’s people waiting for you, we are told.  But give us a little taste of what you are adding to this discussion.  There is a tendency to redundancy here.  You mention the phrase “near-death” twice in the space of about 10 words.  You only have 250 words, and as Arielle famously said, (it bears repeating which is why we are repeating it) a pitch is like a poem, every word counts.  When you name the disorders you lived through, we don’t get a sense of the struggle and difficulty.  It just becomes a laundry list.  You need to give us a sense of what all this was like so we can feel it, and you need to do it in a few concise words. When your pitch is general and vague, we find ourselves disengaging.  We’ve seen stories about bullying and self-esteem issues a million times.  How is yours different?  God and the Devil are in the details.  We want more details. That’s what makes any story come to life.  But particularly a memoir.  We want to know how this man is Judas.  We want to feel and see the particulars of falling in love with Judas. And we hate to say it, but unless you’ve sold tens of thousands of copies, there is still kind of stigma around self-publishing.  Better to leave the YA titles out if you are using this pitch for agents or editors at larger houses. Fascinating memoir about overcoming physical difficulties, illness and disease, finding Jesus, and falling in love with Judas.  Perfect for the Christian market.  Pitch needs to be more specific, character more revealed, writing more visceral and immediate.


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