This tour is in celebration of my July 22 release from Riptide, Sweet Young Thang. This book is the third (but not the last) in my Theta Alpha Gamma series. As is usual for the blog tour, I’ll be giving something away, but what’s unusual (for me) is that this year, what I’m giving away is a mystery. To me. In other words, I’m going to offer the winner their choice of a number of items, like signed copies of my print books, or possibly a crocheted to order phallus, or even a different handmade item—I have a few things in mind . . .
So, how do you win? Well, it’s simpler this year. There will be one question and one question only about Sweet Young Thang, but you have to find the question somewhere on this tour. I’ll be announcing just before the tour where each post will be, so make sure you check in if you want to win.
Okay, enough housekeeping, on with the tour!
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Eric Doing What He Does
I never planned on writing about firefighters or paramedics. In fact, I specifically planned on not writing about them. For me, the reality of emergency services and the fiction of it are different, and something I wasn’t interested in tackling. Yet somehow, I ended up making Eric, one of the main characters in Sweet Young Thang, a firefighter paramedic.
I was a wildland firefighter for seven seasons. Wildfires are sometimes different than forest fires, and a lot different than structural fires. I worked with and went on calls with many rural and municipal fire departments, was stationed in regular fire stations, and dated my share of emergency services workers. Then I married a paramedic (hereafter called the Husband).
At this point in my life, firefighters and paramedics aren’t that interesting to me in general. I’ve noticed I’m in the minority, there.
The Husband used to have some friends (which presumably he still has, but we can’t seem to find them) who worked for an insurance company. They had boring jobs, like entering data about new subscribers, or accident claim stuff. The Husband was thought by his friends to have an interesting job—possibly made doubly interesting by the fact that they dealt peripherally with emergency incidents, but in a very removed, data-entry-in-a-cubicle kind of way.
One night he went to a party at the house of a couple of these guys, and most of the people at the party also had data-entry jobs at the insurance company. A bunch of them (who were fairly well drunk) cornered the Husband in a dead-end hallway, and started pestering him. “What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever seen?”
The husband was fairly drunk himself, and after some persuasion he told them a story. He got to the end, “ . . . and then I pulled her shoe off, but her foot came with it!” and started laughing.
To him (and to me, I confess) that’s funny. Gallows humor. But for those people at the party, who stared at him in horror, it was a bit too much reality, and not in keeping with their romantic, heroic vision of the job.
I want to be clear, the people who do these jobs do incredibly heroic things, but most of the time, what they mostly seem to do is . . . wash rigs. Sure, in some areas paramedics run their asses off, and some fire companies are busier than others, but the majority of emergency calls are “B.S.” calls. Frequent flyers, hypochondriacs, fakers, old and/or very ill people CTD (circling the drain) and of course the DRTs (dead right there). Not to mention some legitimately ill people who need an ambulance, but for whom a paramedic can do very little other than give them oxygen and put in a saline drip. Firefighters also have B.S. calls—false alarms, fires that are extinguished by sprinkler systems before they show up, calls for manpower that result in them directing traffic around an accident. They only rarely get to go on a really good fire, and for them that’s what it is—a “good” fire.
It’s not that firefighters and paramedics don’t understand the enormity of the tragedy that’s happening, it’s that they have to deal with it too. It affects their lives and emotions as well as the victims. It’s stressful to know someone could live or die by your actions, or to walk into a burning building, regardless of whether you’re wearing SCBA’s and turnouts or not (SCBA = self-contained breathing apparatus). These things take their toll, especially when you know you’ll have to do it again, no matter how rarely those calls are toned out.
There’s another issue that stopped me from writing them for a while—different areas of the country have different protocols and laws, which affect how they treat patients or set up their incident command on a fire, or even the way their stations are manned. During the writing process, I worked with a medic from the east coast, and we had a constant back and forth on the differences. I expect to hear from a few readers about those differences as well.
So, you may be wondering why I went ahead and wrote a story about the firefighter paramedic named Eric. Well, it’s because that’s what he wanted to be. I’ve given up arguing with my characters—it never ends well for me. So I let Eric do his thing, and here he is doing just that in Sweet Young Thang.
“I’m probably going to die, aren’t I?”
Eric Dixon fiddled with his patient’s IV for a few seconds, collecting his thoughts. Mr. Siskin was on a fair amount of pain medicine, but his speech seemed clear. Eric met his gaze. “Do you remember what I said the problem was?”
Siskin grimaced. “Uh . . . aneurism in my abdomen, right?”
“Well, that’s what I think, but we don’t carry the equipment on the ambulance to know for sure.” Not to mention he wasn’t a doctor. Eric watched the pulsing swelling just below Siskin’s navel and could only imagine that was one thing, though. “It’s called a thoracic aortic aneurism. It means your aorta—the main artery supplying blood to your body—is in danger of rupturing. If I’m right, and that happens, you’ll bleed to death.” So fast that even if he was already in surgery and opened up, they might not be able to save him.
“How much danger?”
Eric blew out a breath. “You hear the sirens?”
Mr. Siskin nodded tightly, closing his eyes a second. Sweat beaded on his forehead.
Eric leaned forward to adjust the drip, giving his patient more medication. “We don’t always go to the hospital code three, meaning with the lights and sirens on. Only when someone’s in imminent danger of death or permanent injury.”
Mr. Siskin nodded again. Maybe he believed in the power of prayer. Eric hoped it’d work, because there was nothing he could do except keep the patient as comfortable as possible. This sort of call frustrated the crap out of him. In this case, Lincoln’s job—getting them to the fucking hospital as fast as he safely could—was the more important one.
Lincoln’s job was extra hard today, though, because the Siskins had been vacationing at their cabin up on the McKenzie River, right at the border of their ambulance service district. Eric glanced at his watch. Best-case scenario; ten more minutes to the hospital.
Crap, he should have fucking called for a helicopter. But no, it wouldn’t have been any faster. He’d had Siskin nearly ready to go when the swelling in his abdomen had started. One of those cases where even though the patient had shown signs of a heart attack, the EKG hadn’t backed the diagnosis up. Eric’d had a bad feeling, and he and Lincoln had to take the guy in anyway, so they’d been working fast.
Siskin flinched, grimacing again. Even though his eyes were closed, when Eric reached for the IV again, he said, “No.”
Eric looked down at him. “How bad is the pain? Remember the pain scale? Give me a number between one and ten—”
“I don’t care.” Mr. Siskin waved him back. “I don’t want to die while I’m stoned.” He smiled for a split second. “More stoned, I mean.”
“Gotta tell you, Mr. Siskin, in my professional opinion, you need to believe you’re going to live.” He’d seen some people who should be dead refuse to die, and he’d seen a few who had no medical reason to die go ahead and do it.
“Call me Bryson.”
“I can do only do that if you promise me you’ll live.”
Siskin’s eyes opened again and he actually grinned. Not for more than a couple of seconds, but he met Eric’s gaze and shared a moment of humor.
Humor is a good thing. Eric smiled back, trying to make it genuine.
“Okay, it’s a deal.”
You can read the rest of the chapter (and a whole lot more excerpt) at http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/sweet-young-thang-theta-alpha-gamma-3 (go to the bottom of the page and click on the “excerpt” tab). And of course, you can also buy the book there, or at any of your favorite online booksellers.
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Raised on a steady media diet of Monty Python, classical music and the visual arts, Anne Tenino rocked the mental health world when she was the first patient diagnosed with Compulsive Romantic Disorder. Since that day, Anne has taken on conquering the M/M world through therapeutic writing. Finding out who those guys having sex in her head are and what to do with them has been extremely liberating.
Anne’s husband finds it liberating as well, although in a somewhat different way. Her two daughters are mildly confused by Anne’s need to twist Ken dolls into odd positions. They were raised to be open-minded children, however, and other than occasionally stealing Ken1’s strap-on, they let Mom do her thing without interference.
Wondering what Anne does in her spare time? Mostly she lies on the couch, eats bonbons and shirks housework.
Check out what Anne’s up to now by visiting her site. http://annetenino.com