Prompt to Publication | Beth McMillan

Today we are celebrating Beth McMillan. Since Deadlines for Writers started in 2017, many of our writers have gone on to publish and accomplish great things with their writing. The Prompt to Publication emails are all about celebrating these writers and their wonderful stories.

I hope these interviews will help and teach you how to use Deadlines for Writers to build your author platform.

Please scroll down to see the video interview. 

Author feature: I’d like to introduce Beth McMillan


Have you completed any of the challenges on Deadlines for Writers?

Beth McMillan: Thanks to Ottersilver, I learned about Deadlines for Writers a little over a year and a half ago. I completed my first 12 poems in the 12-month challenge last year, and am 7 months into my second.


What have you published?

Beth McMillan: I published a couple of poetry collections in the past as BES McMillan, but writing as Rick Ellyn (a combination of our middle names) my husband and I just self-published our first novel, called “STAR OF LIFE”.  We’re still wrestling with a few formatting issues, but it exists!


Has Deadlines for Writers helped you as a writer?

Beth McMillan: It may seem odd, but applying myself to the poetry challenge encouraged me to tackle writing a novel.


What did you learn that you applied to your story?

Beth McMillan: Mia’s Critiquing Kindly class and recent Show, Don’t Tell class, sparked a couple of Ah-ha! Moments for me.  They gave me the tools I needed to complete a precursor to STAR OF LIFE.  The Critiquing class gave me a new take on ‘conflict’ in my writing and allowed me to take control of the overall plot in a way I never had before.  Between those classes and having gotten into the habit of meeting regular deadlines, I convinced myself that I could finish a novel-length project.  Once I completed the first story, I went back to work on STAR (which is based on tales my husband shared with me about his years as an Emergency Medical Technician.


What is your favourite story you wrote for 12SS?

Beth McMillan: See there, you saved the hardest question for last.  It’s like asking a Mom which child is her favorite.  Let’s just say I’m fond of RURAL DESTINATION right now because it relates to journeys with my husband.   It is a poem I wrote in December 2022.



This is the “about the Authors” blurb we put in the book

Mark Richard and Beth Ellen S. McMillan have been married since 1990.  Working together, they are Rick Ellyn.  They met in an Emergency Department.  He was an EMT.  She was a medical secretary.  Since then, he has told her the stories she relates in Star of Life.  She used to think he exaggerated, but now, not so much.  Have fun guessing which bits of ‘connective tissue’ in this fictional account are purely a product of her imagination.

More specific to me–

BETH McMillan worked as a medical secretary.  In retirement, she travels, writes, edits, and tells stories, an art form she learned from her mother.  Eldest daughter of a loving family of incorrigible practical jokers, she is a charter member of the McMillan Angling Confederation, ie Team Mac.  In the Society for Creative Anachronism, she is known as Daedez of the Dark Horde Moritu..  In real life, her poetry has appeared in several newsletters and publications of limited circulation.  Her poetry collections: Peregrination: Poems for All Points Between Departure and Return (© 2013) and The Spiral Staircase: Poems for Family of Birth and Choice (©2019) are available through Kindle Digital Publishing.  She is currently dabbling with a blog called:   Beyond that, she is a complete klutz when it comes to matters technical.  Bless all of you who have helped her get this far.

Read Beth‘s stories


Like air traffic controllers, EMT dispatchers are expected to remain calm under all sorts of trying circumstances.  For the most part, they do a damn fine job, but every now and then you get a hint.  Their voices take on a certain edge that lets you know the call’s serious even before you know what’s going down.  Roger Griegg’s voice had that kind of snap to it, when he punched us up one afternoon.  We were doodling back to quarters from a run to St. Mary’s.  It was 13:48 and we were moving at just under 30 mph, smack in the middle of downtown.

“Seventy-two, location?!”

“On Main, passing Water.”  It was a line every Nash driver used if they were within six blocks in either direction of that intersection.

Most dispatchers generally sighed. Griegg’s tone didn’t acknowledge the quip at all. “Turn it right around…”

Between the word “right” and the word “around”, Buckles grabbed the dash with one hand and the oh-my-god bar with his other.  I stomped on 72’s parking brake, snapped the wheel left (which spun the rig 180 degrees from the direction it had been traveling), freed the brake and took off.  It’s called a bootlegger’s turn.  “Holy brake fade, Batman!” Buckles gasped.  He hit the lights, as Griegg said, “Fifty-nine down. Chili and Thurston.”

Officer in trouble!  The siren cut loose and I kept on accelerating.  Cars saw us coming and for once cleared the way.  We may joke with the cops, and razz them from time to time, but Nash has the City Contract.  Those guys save our hides on a regular basis, and you’d best believe we will haul ass to help them when they need us.

Officer Pizarro wasn’t so much down, as leaning over the back of his patrol car.  We were scanning for gunmen even before the rig came to a complete halt and we scrambled to his assistance.  Officer Pizarro had not been wounded in a shootout with bank robbers, however, nor stabbed while responding to a family dispute.  Pale and sweating, with a decidedly sheepish wince, he showed us the reason we had come screaming up to rescue him: He’d been securing a recovered stolen bicycle, gotten distracted for a split second, and closed his right hand in the patrol car’s trunk.  His keys were still in the ignition.

I grabbed said keys and freed him in less than a minute.  He’d broken at least three fingers, maybe four, and probably bruised a couple of other small bones in his hand.  We applied ice packs.  Two more cars, containing two officers apiece, and a second ambulance arrived to see if they could help.

“I’d say we’ve got things under control,” I told the assembled multitudes.  Another police car pulled up as Buckles and the second officer on the scene radioed our respective dispatchers to cancel any further reinforcements.  Even so the officers, who were shooing away curious pedestrians, had to wave off a third rig, whose crew decided they might as well swing by, given how close they were when the “situation green” went out.

The police chief and another two cruisers apparently felt the same.  Pizarro went remarkably pink for someone who had every right to be pale and shocky.   He’d been protesting that he was fine but turned to me with an almost pleading expression.  “Can we get out of here?”  Buckles cleared a path back to 72 for us.

“Look, I know we are all greatly relieved that this wasn’t a shootout or hostage situation,” I announced, moving Pizarro adroitly through the crowd of his comrades, “but we need to get our patient over to General for x-rays.”  They let us go.

The City of Rochester has an arrangement with Rochester General.  Police officers and firefighters are ‘generally’ seen there, even when RGH is clear across town from the call’s location.  As we drove, Pizarro thanked us profusely for rescuing him from another round of “You did what!?” wisecracks from his brothers in blue.  He didn’t say much else.

We were just a few minutes out from the hospital when Pizarro moaned for the first time.  “We’re almost there,” Buckles said, “Is the pain getting worse?”

“Aw hell, no,” Pizarro said, looking startled.  “It’s just… it’s my right hand.”

Buckles started to assure Pizarro he’d be able to use it again, but Pizarro sighed and cut him off: “I’m not worried about THAT.  I’m a southpaw,” he muttered, “They’ll still expect me to write up a frigging report.”

Buy the book.


STAR OF LIFE is set in the 1970-80’s world of Emergency Medical Services. It follows Emergency Medical Technician, Mike Salerno, from his early days as an idealistic volunteer for a rural Pennsylvania Rescue Squad; to working for two very different ambulance companies in NYC; and finally, through the challenges, triumphs, and crises he faces in Rochester, NY’s EMS community. Ride with him, and see how this lifesaving caregiver learns to cope with all too often ugly reality and the host of memorable patients and co-workers he strives to help, while trying to retain his sanity and compassion. The journey is, by turns, heart-wrenching and hilarious.




Well done, Beth (and Mark)!


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