6 Besties with Megan Cyrulewski
Please share your 6 bests, telling us from the topics below. Write as much, as little, and provide as many images as you’d like.
1. Best writing wardrobe: Yoga pants and a comfy t-shirt.
2. Best Inspiration for writing: Other authors
3. Best writing place: On the couch in my living room
4. Best Pick-Me-Up book: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (I grew up reading Mitch Albom’s column in the Detroit Free Press)
5. Best secret talent: I danced ballet, jazz, contemporary, and en pointe for 14 years
6. Best experience or writing idea.: Every day is an experience with my 3-year-old daughter, Madelyne
Megan Cyrulewski has been writing short stories ever since she was ten-years-old. Eventually she settled into a career in the non-profit sector and then went back to school to get her law degree. While she was in school, she documented her divorce and child custody battle in her memoir, Who Am I? How My Daughter Taught Me to Let Go and Live Again, which was released on August 2, 2014. Megan lives in Michigan with her 3-year-old daughter who loves to dance, run, read, and snuggle time with Mommy. Megan also enjoys her volunteer work with Troy Youth Assistance as the Fundraising Chair on the Board of Directors.
Megan Cyrulewski is an ordinary person who has faced extraordinary challenges and now wants to inspire people and show them that hope gives them the power to survive anything. Who Am I? is about her journey into post-partum depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, visits to the psych ward, divorce, domestic violence, law school, and her courageous struggle to survive with her sanity intact—and how a beautiful little girl emerged from all this chaos.
Excerpt From Chapter One: Ahhh…Young Love
Envy. There is a reason why it’s one of the seven deadly sins. It can kill you. It almost killed me.
The summer of 2004, I was 26 and just got out of a long-term relationship. Good man, he just wasn’t the right man for me.
I had just found out that my old college roommate had recently gotten engaged. The two of us were always “competing” during college: who was skinnier, who can pick up the most guys at the bar. Stupid girl stuff. Other friends of mine were either married or having babies. I think the last straw was finding out my high school sweetheart had gotten engaged. Somewhere in fantasyland, I always thought it was possible we might get back together. Needless to say, I was definitely envious.
That summer, my roommate, Jessica, bought a house. At the time we were sharing an apartment, but she asked if I wanted to move into her house. Jessica and I had known each other since high school and she was the best roommate, and one of the best friends, I have ever had. Without hesitation, I agreed. A month after moving in, we had a house warming party. That’s when I met Tyler*.
I knew Tyler slightly because he was engaged to one of Jessica’s friends, Natalie. Tyler and Natalie and been together for about three years. They had even come to a couple of parties Jessica and I had thrown at our apartment. I had never really talked to him, though. Tyler and Natalie had broken up around the same time I had broken up with my-long term man.
Jessica didn’t want to invite Tyler because she didn’t want any tension between him and Natalie. A few days before the party, though, we found out Natalie was going to be out of town. Coincidentally, Tyler stopped by that same night to give something of Natalie’s to Jessica. That was the first time I had really looked at hime and I liked what I saw: good-looking, goofy smile, and deep-blue eyes. The attraction was instantaneous. So, I decided to invite him to the house-warming party. Why the hell not? Natalie wasn’t going to be there. After getting the eyes of death from Jessica, she reluctantly told him the day and time.
The night of the party, Tyler knocked on the door. When I opened it, I gave him a hug and told him I was glad he was there because at least I had someone to flirt with. I didn’t really pay attention to him too much during the party. But after everyone had left, he and I ended up talking until five in the morning.
A couple of nights later, we went on our first date. We went to dinner and then back to his house to watch a movie. We were very open with each other. I told him about my anxiety disorder, he told me about his drug addiction and how he had been clean for years. Five months later, I moved in with him, four months after that we got engaged and a year later, we were married. Needless to say, the relationship was on overdrive from the beginning.
The relationship wasn’t perfect, but whose is? Tyler didn’t like his current job and was looking for a new one. Tyler was trying to quit smoking because he knew I didn’t like it. Tyler was a recovering addict and going to NA meetings. It’s a stressful time. That became my mantra. Tyler got angry. “It’s a stressful time.” Tyler screamed at me. “It’s a stressful time.”
I was an independent woman in my mid-twenties, in a stable job making $55,000 and climbing up the corporate ladder. I understood stress. I was also in complete denial. This was the beginnings of what I would later understand was a domestic violence relationship and a relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). There were the signs of these disorders, of course, but I didn’t recognize them at the time.
My paternal family is 100% Polish. In my grandmother’s generation, girls were expected to get married and have babies. A lot of babies. My grandmother was one of six children. After I graduated from high school, on Christmas Eve, my grandmother would pray that the next year I would get married and start a family. I always smiled and told her maybe. I loved my grandmother very much. She was the only grandparent I had ever known.
After Tyler and I got engaged, we went to my grandmother’s house to tell her the news she had been waiting for. When we told her, she stood up, pushed me aside, hugged Tyler and said, “God bless you.” The memory still makes me smile. Three months later, she had a stroke. In February 2006, seven months before the wedding, my grandmother passed away. Devastation doesn’t even coming close to how I felt. I called in to work, stayed in bed and cried for two days.
The night of the funeral, my dad’s company catered dinner at my parent’s house for our family. On the way to their house, I noticed that the car was low on gas. I stopped at a gas station and asked Tyler if he could pump the gas. Tyler was on the phone and told me to pump the gas myself. We were only two miles from my parents’ house. I was still upset and crying from the funeral. I asked him again to please just pump the gas. He didn’t even bother to answer me. I got out of the car and pumped the gas myself. When I got back into the car, I told Tyler that I was upset and a little angry. What happened next was my first glimpse into the emotional abusive side of domestic violence.
“You are such a spoiled little bitch who expects the world to be handed to you,” Tyler screamed at me. “Turn the fucking car around.”
Not saying a word, I turned the car around and headed back home to drop off Tyler, who kept spewing vile words.
“You and your family think you’re so much better than me. Did daddy pump your gas for you all the time? Well guess what? You actually have to do things yourself now. It’s time for you to grow up and live in the real world.”
Tears streamed from my eyes. I still had not said a word.
“Your grandmother probably killed herself because she didn’t want to deal with you anymore. She probably got tired of your spoiled behavior and decided death was better than you. I’m glad I’m going home because I don’t want to watch your fucking family cry all night.”
When we got back home, I parked in the driveway and finally let loose.
“How dare you!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. “I just lost my grandmother! Get out of my car! Get out!”
Tyler started laughing. “Look at you. You’re a joke. You should get some help for those anger issues of yours. Don’t bother coming back, bitch. Your shit will be on the curb.”
I left and went to my parents’ house. When my dad asked about Tyler, I said we got into an argument and he’s at home. My dad, who is the family peacemaker and almost never says anything negative said under his breath, “What a night for him to pick a fight.”
About an hour into dinner, Tyler called me. He said he wanted to come over and apologize. At this point, I was so emotionally drained I really didn’t care. When he arrived, he waltzed right into the house like nothing had ever happened. He pulled me aside and told me that he blew up because he was under so much stress from taking care of me the last couple of days. Looking back at the moment, I wonder how he even had the audacity to blame my grandmother’s death for his behavior. At the time, I was just glad he wasn’t mad anymore.
The next couple of months were calm. No arguments and Tyler and I were having fun planning the wedding. Obviously, the argument the night of my grandmother’s funeral was a result of stress. We got through it and according to Tyler, it wouldn’t happen again.
Early June 2006, I was in bed reading and waiting for Tyler to come home from a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting. When he got home, he came upstairs and walked toward the bed. He stopped and asked if I smelled anything.
“No,” I said, a little confused.
“It smells like cat piss.” (We had a cat that sometimes urinated outside the litter box.)
Tyler looked around the room and picked up a bed pillow off the floor. He smelled it.
“She pissed on this pillow.”
I laughed. “It’s sad when the pillow is right next to me and I can’t smell the pee.”
Tyler didn’t laugh. “Clean it up.”
“I’ll put it in the wash tomorrow. Just throw it in the basement.”
Tyler picked up the pillow. “Bitch. You waited until I came home because you knew I would fucking clean it.” He ripped the book I was reading right out of my hands and threw it across the room. “Get off your fat lazy ass, get some paper towels and clean it!”
I started to shake. The monster had emerged again. I couldn’t say anything. Tyler picked up the pillow and shoved it in my face.
“Smell it!” He screamed. “Can you smell it now, bitch? Now your face smells like cat piss. You’re disgusting. Who would want you anyway?”
Tyler threw the pillow back on the floor and stormed downstairs. I just sat in bed, paralyzed from fear. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even cry.
I don’t know how much time had passed before Tyler came back. Without saying a word, he picked up two water bottles I had sitting on the nightstand beside me, unscrewed the tops, and poured water on me. He laughed and went back downstairs.
I took off my pajamas, turned out the light and rolled to the dry side of the bed. Before long, I heard Tyler come up the stairs again. I began to shake. He ripped the covers off of me.
“You would sleep in a wet bed. I should have poured cat piss on you and let you sleep in that,” he laughed. “Get out of my fucking bed and sleep outside.”
I got out of bed and put on dry pajamas. I took off my engagement ring, threw it on the bed and left. I went to Jessica’s house and asked if I could spend the night. I didn’t talk about what happened. I just told her that the engagement was off and I just needed to sleep. Jessica never asked any questions and I love her for that.
Before long, my phone rang and it was Tyler. He asked me to come back home. I was hesitant, but he convinced me to come back home and talk. I left Jessica a note and went back home.
When I got home, Tyler was sitting on the couch. “I’m going to get a six-pack of beer, drink it and kill myself.”
Shocked, I sat down next to him. “Do you want me to call someone? Should I call your sponsor? I don’t know what to do.”
Tyler kept repeating. “I’m going to kill myself.” He was crying, but there weren’t any tears.
I hugged him. “We’ll get through this. We’ll get help. Please don’t kill yourself. I love you too much.”
“Thank you,” Tyler smiled. And just like that, he got up, told me he loved me, and went to bed.
Looking back, I now realize that this was Tyler’s way of manipulation. Tyler knew he let his anger get out of control, to the point that I walked away. To get me back, he subtly blamed me for what happened by alluding that he was going to commit suicide. At the time, I felt guilty for not cleaning the damn pillow. If I had cleaned that pillow, this never would have happened. I promised myself to be more careful in the future.
The next morning, my engagement ring was on my nightstand.**
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There are people out there who don’t die with their bodies. Their souls live on in the bodies of others. Some good, some bad—they are soul jumpers. Nothing in Iris Brave’s world make sense anymore. Her father, Micah, is still alive—his soul survives in the body of a teenage boy. It is up to Iris and a group of soul jumpers called the Sixteen to save Micah. To do so Iris must take on the unscrupulous leaders of the Council. Can she save her father? Will she survive?
The Sixteen is the second book in the Soul Jumpers Series by Ali B., and though I’m always hesitant to start a book series out of order, this book definitely stands on its own. It’s also suitable for Young Adults and Tweens. At some points I would have liked to have read the first book, but only because of the background of the story, so I could have known more as to what led up to the current events.
Iris is a Soul Jumper, as is her father. Her father’s been kidnapped, and it becomes up to Iris to save him along with a few new friends that get caught up in the Council’s evil crusade. I won’t be giving any spoilers, but I will say that this book had me hooked from the first paragraph.
Ali B. did such a wonderful job building her world and her characters. It was easy to get to know them even without reading the first book, and with so many twists and turns, I literally couldn’t put this book down. Her descriptions were very vivid and I could easily visualize the scenes as if I was right there in the story with the characters.
Still thinking about this book days after being finished reading it, I am anxiously awaiting Book 3 to see what happens next, and will be purchasing Book One to get the full scope of the characters. I love the tension she builds in her writing and I never guessed the ending – it was shocking.
All I can say is that if you love YA and Tween reads, this is one series you will definitely want to get your hands on.
Iris Brave isn’t as courageous as her name suggests. That’s about to change. Iris doesn’t take risks. Heights make her dizzy and she prefers to swim in the shallow end… with nose plugs. On a summer visit to her grandpa’s farm, a mysterious stranger shadows Iris, leaving her cryptic messages. When this outsider turns out be a phantom from her family’s past, Iris sheds her timid ways to uncover the truth and protect the family she loves. Along the way Iris discovers family secrets and enigmatic figures that lead her to question everything she’s ever thought was real.
Pearl Blackthorn is a novelist and investigative reporter for Darkside paranormal magazine. Armed with her digital recorder and accompanied by her friend and photographer Harry Raymond, Pearl is sent by her editor J.J Benson – affectionately known as Benny – to the four corners of Great Britain, (and sometimes further), to investigate stories of spirits and specters, demons and doppelgangers, prophecy and possession. The problem is, Pearl doesn’t believe in the supernatural; her creative imagination is tempered by a strong skepticism. She is immovable on her stand that there is always a simple, rational explanation behind every report of paranormal activity. But Pearl soon realizes that the intricacies of paranormal events are often far from simple and not always rational.
Sharon Hollander is an author, entrepreneur, and a healthcare consultant in the area of practice management for over 30 years. She is a leading expert in the area of physician billing and reimbursement. Currently the President of STAT Medical Consulting, a comprehensive medical billing service in Encino, California providing billing services to physicians and surgeons in solo practice or small group practices.
Author Links -
Goodreads: Sharon Hollander Medical
Billing Horror Stories
Amazon: Sharon Hollander
Book Genre: Non Fiction
Publisher: Abbott Press
Release Date: July 2013
Anecdotes and real case studies ripped from the headlines about what doctors did which got them into trouble either with Medicare, HIPPA, The Office of Inspector General or worse the FBI.
The case studies presented within these pages are true stories of medical professionals: Some are about providers just like you. Many doctors are just trying to navigate the maze of the medical billing process.
Many providers thought that if they only bill just 99213’s, they could stay under the radar. What they didn’t expect is that by doing this and not varying their coding appropriately, they were raising red flags about their billing practices which led to them being audited by Medicare.
With the changing rules and regulations and challenges facing healthcare, you cannot afford to miss this information.
If you submit even one claim for reimbursement this is a must read!
Case Studies of HIPAA Violations and Penalties
Two emergency room nurses actually each took a photo of an x-ray of a patient that was admitted to the emergency room with “an object lodged in his rectum.” She was accused of posting it on Facebook.
A five-physician practice became the first small practice to enter into a resolution agreement that included a civil money penalty over charges that it violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy and Security Rules
The practice agreed to pay $100,000 and take corrective actions.
The HHS Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation after a complaint was filed alleging that the practice was posting surgery and appointment schedules on an Internet-based calendar that was publicly accessible.
A large university hospital in an area with many celebrity and high profile clientele failed to disclose that their employees and even doctors on their staff “Snooped” into the medical records of famous celebrity patients. One or numerous employees even sold the stories to tabloid and mainstream media. Over the course of many years of not stopping this behavior the hospital was fined over $800,000 dollars.
A radiologist interpreted a patient’s images, and sent the claim to the patient’s employer under worker’s compensation. However, that bill was sent in error, because the worker’s compensation plan wasn’t responsible for payment. The radiologist was sanctioned.
An employee of a large hospital was terminated for poor job performance. He spent the next few weeks accessing celebrity patients and his superior and co-workers medical records using his computer access that was never disconnected. He ended up serving 4 months jail time even though he stated he did not know that accessing Electronic Health Records was a crime.
A large urban General Hospital employee took some work home, but accidentally left 192 paper billing records—containing detailed protected health information—on the subway.
Penalties: Even though it appears to have been an accident, severe penalties have been imposed on the hospital of a $1-million fine.
Since 2009 breaches have been reported to HHS for over 19 million patients.
Penalties and fines have ranged from $2,000 dollars to the millions.
6 Besties with Morgan Moss – A Tatted Mom’s Guide To NOT Screwing Up Your Kids Book Blast & Giveaway
6 Besties with Morgan Moss
1. Best writing wardrobe.
My best writing wardrobe is definitely yoga pants (or pajama pants), a comfy t-shirt- which is probably my husband’s, and bare feet. I’ll need a coffee mug, filled to the brim, in one hand, and after taking a few sips, I can begin writing.
2. Best Inspiration for writing.
I write what I know. If I’ve experienced it, or it’s going on in my head, that’s what my readers will read. So, for me, life is the best inspiration. I take day-to-day happenings and give them a humorous voice.
3. Best writing place.
My kitchen island is where my book was written. Sounds strange, I know, but I found that I stayed motivated while standing at my kitchen island to write. When I’m writing more casual articles or posts, I tend to sit in my favorite chair with a blanket over me.
4. Best Pick-Me-Up book.
“The Sugar Queen” by Sarah Addison Allen. I love the way her books weave everyday life with magic, and I’m definitely a happy ending to a book type of person.
5. Best secret talent.
I have this amazing ability to fall asleep during just about any type of movie- it doesn’t matter if it’s horror, action, adventure- I can sleep through it. I’ve gotten much better about it, but over the years I’ve probably only seen half of the movies I’ve sat down to watch from beginning to end. Not sure if it’s a talent, but I sure have perfected it.
6. Best experience or writing idea.
I have to say that being able to share my life with people, through my writing, is pretty amazing. I’ve lived in 2 different countries (soon to be a 3rd with our upcoming move to Japan), have two amazingly unique kids who are pretty funny themselves, have screwed up my life and picked up the pieces, rebuilding myself even stronger than before. All of these experiences are what I write about on my blog, and in my book. As I write about them, people comment on them, saying they can relate to what I’ve been through in my life. That keeps me motivated to write.
Author Bio: Morgan Moss is the creator of The Inklings of Life humor parenting blog (www.theinklingsoflife.com), which was named a Top 10 Mom Blog of 2013 by the parenting website VoiceBoks (www.voiceboks.com). Many of her parenting and motherhood articles have been featured on sites such as the Huffington Post, Babble, WhatToExpect.com, Mamapedia, Parent Society and BlogHer.com. She is a trained tattoo artist, and spends her free time creating mixed media art.
Author Links – The link for any or all of the following…
Blog | www.theinklingsoflife.com
Facebook | www.facebook.com/theinklingsoflife
Twitter | www.twitter.com/tattedmom81
Goodreads | www.goodreads.com/TattedMom
Book Genre: Nonfiction Parenting/ Humor Parenting
Publisher: Inklings Print
Release Date: October 17, 2013
Motherhood is chaotic.
Some days are filled with unicorns and fairy dust, and some days the unicorn craps on your brand new rug and the fairies are flying around, crashing into walls. Mainstream parenting books help with the unicorn and fairy dust days, but what happens when your kid drops the f-bomb in a crowded grocery store?
That’s where “Tatted Mom’s Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids” comes into play, tackling situations in motherhood that you were definitely not warned about. Think of this book as your manual to the parenting problems that leave you throwing your hands up in the air, wondering if you are the only mom who goes through this craziness, and has you hiding in the back of your closet with a bottle of Moscato and a cheesecake (we’ve all been there).
“Tatted Mom’s Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids” includes:
~The myths that mainstream parenting books tell you, and how they don’t apply to every mother.
~How to deal with temper tantrums from toddlers to tweens.
~How to “win” the various battles you will have with your children (like the Personal Hygiene Battle and the Clothing Battle)
~Tips on dealing with picky eaters and the difficult potty trainee.
~Helping build your tween’s self esteem and creating a strong family unit.
~Motherly advice on parenting from birth until the tweenaged years (around 12 years old)
~Mom Competition, unplugging your kids, chores, peer pressure and more!
Written by an unconventional, tattooed, colorful mother whose out-of-the-box parenting tips have proven successful for many families, regardless of parenting style, “Tatted Mom’s Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids” weaves together helpful advice with humorous stories from the author’s own trials and tribulations as a mom, as well as stories from other moms and dads on their own parenting journeys.
So get the kids in bed, grab a glass of wine and something sweet from your hidden stash of goodies (we all have one of those, too), and crack open “Tatted Mom’s Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids”. Your mom-sanity will thank you.
Who am I? I’m Tatted Mom, once a tattoo artist and body piercer, now stay-at-home mom… ninja assassin by night, bad-decision maker, and mother of two beautiful kids, aged eleven (The Girl) and eight (The Ginger), whose parenting is just as colorful as the tattoos on my skin. What makes me a parenting expert? Nothing. I’m a regular mom, just like you, who looks at parenting in a way that no other mother does.
I’m very honest, very open about motherhood and its ups and downs. When you are forced to stripdown everything that you are and admit that you were a bad mother, as I was for 3 years, it pretty much paves the way for crap to never build up again, and you truly understand the value of honesty. I’ve figured out how to tackle the parenting problems that most books and websites don’t even tell you about (like how to catch a child in a lie and what to do when your child shouts out the ‘s’ word in a room full of strangers), and pass on this advice in a way that will have you shaking your head, laughing your ass off, and trying the techniques for yourself.
Are my methods the ‘end all, be all’ in the field of parenting? Not even close. These techniques are ones that have worked for my family, and for friends and family with whom I have shared these tips. I don’t claim to be ‘The Tween Whisperer’ or have every answer to every parenting question out there. What I do have is advice and helpful things to keep in mind when parenthood throws the curve balls at you. Life is an experiment, and parenting is definitely a mix-baking-soda-and-vinegar-in-the-bottom-of-a-paper-mache-volcano-and-see-what-happens type of thing. You may get a controlled, steady ooze of lava from the top that delicately covers the miniature town below while allowing its inhabitants to evacuate slowly. Or, you could get a massive explosion that takes out the town below, stains your shirt and covers the cat that was staring curiously at what you were doing. I’ve had both. The key is to perfect the techniques that do work, and fix the ones that don’t work. That’s what being a mom is all about.
Signed paperback of A Tatted Mom’s Guide To NOT Screwing Up Your Kids
Choose the Intro to Unleashed
Sydney Rye is coming to Audio and we need your help picking the narrator!
Emily Kimelman’s “Sydney Rye” series features a strong female protagonist and her rescue dog, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don’t mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!
Haven’t read Sydney Rye yet? Download the first book, UNLEASHED, for free on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, or Kobo and see how she sounds in your head then vote for the best narrator!
Voting enters you to win all sorts of great prizes including Amazon gift cards, signed books, and the finished Audio book! Add to your chances of winning by joining Emily’s email list, liking her Facebook page, or telling your friends about the contest.
Here are your choices: (Please vote via Rafflecopter Below)
Every vote, like, share, or sign up is an entry for the “grand prizes”
$20 Amazon or BN Gift Card
Copy of the Finished Audiobook
More about UNLEASHED:
UNLEASHED is the first book in Emily Kimelman’s best selling Sydney Rye series of mysteries.
When the series begins Sydney Rye is named Joy Humbolt. She does not like people telling her what to do, so it comes as no surprise that she was just fired from her last job. When she buys Charlene Miller’s dog-walking business on Manhattan’s exclusive upper east side, it seems like the perfect fit: Quiet environment, minimal contact with people.
But then one of her clients turns up dead, and Charlene disappears. Rumors say Charlene was having an affair with the victim–and of course, everyone assumes Joy must know where she is. Joy begins to look into the crime, first out of curiosity then out of anger when there is another murder and threats start to come her way.
When police detective Mulberry is assigned to the case, Joy finds a kindred spirit–cynical and none-too-fond of the human race. As they dig deep into the secrets of Manhattan’s elite, they not only get closer to the killer but also to a point of no return. One last murder sends Joy Humbolt hurtling over the edge. Her only chance of survival is to become Sydney Rye.
The Rest of The Sydney Rye Series:
DEATH IN THE DARK (A Sydney Rye Novella, #2)
INSATIABLE (A Sydney Rye Novel, #3)
STRINGS OF GLASS (A Sydney Rye Novel, #4)
THE DEVIL’S BREATH (A Sydney Rye Novel, #5) Coming April 2014
Emily Kimelman Biography
Emily Kimelman is the author of the best selling “Sydney Rye” series of mystery novels including UNLEASHED, DEATH IN THE DARK, INSATIABLE, STRINGS OF GLASS and the forthcoming THE DEVIL’S BREATH. Emily lives with her husband, Sean Gilvey, and their dog, Kinsey Millhone “Pup Detective”, on a trawler docked in the Hudson Valley during the summer. She spends her winters traveling to where ever the next Sydney Rye Novel takes place. Right now she is in Costa Rica working on Sydney Rye #6.
If you’ve read Emily’s work and liked it please contact her. She loves hearing from readers. You can reach Emily via email email@example.com or on twitter @ejkimelman. Follow her on Instagram to see pictures from Emily’s latest adventures. Visit www.emilykimelman.com to learn more about Emily and the Sydney Rye series.
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It worked for Hemingway, so why not?
My regular job had taken me to a two-year assignment in The Bahamas. Ernest had written Old Man and the Sea while living on Bimini and I was in Nassau, but it was close enough for me. I had barely unpacked, the majority of my possessions on a ship somewhere between Houston and the Port of Nassau, but I decided it was time to stop “writing” and get down to business. I’d done a few short stories in different genres, mostly to gauge the reader’s reactions as I honed my craft. That turned out to be a distraction.
A book is a big thing, and I never realized just how big until the task lay ahead of me. I envisioned a length of about 60,000-80,000 words, and I had about half that in notes and partially finished stories. I really had no idea how to put it all together, but I knew where the story began, so I started there.
I set a word goal for myself – 1,000 words/week. I knew it would take a long time at that rate, but I’d been screwing around for six years already, so anything would be progress. It was tough to make my goal – I’d do it all on Saturday night, and sometimes I’d start the next week a few hundred words behind, but as I caught a rhythm I upped my goal to 2k. I never looked back, not even to spell check. By the time I’d been at it three months, I had a rough outline of twenty chapters. I knew where I wanted the book to go, and how I wanted to end it.
I mentioned in a previous post that writing the book hurt – a psychic pain of reliving some of the most horrible experiences of my life, of scars that were torn open again. The nightmares had returned with a vengeance, and I found myself preoccupied more often than not. I pushed through it, channeling that hurt into the story.
Somewhere along the line I figured out what the book was about. For the past six years I hadn’t had a clue.
My time in Iraq had changed me. I knew that without knowing how much, but it was coming out in the book. My notes reflected it once I put them in a logical order – I was reacting differently near the end of the tour than I did at the beginning. It was subtle at first, but the arrogant feeling of power morphed into resignation as I realized I didn’t have any, and never had.
I finished the manuscript just over six months to the day after I had begun it in earnest. I didn’t pick it up again for three weeks. During that time, the dreams went away. When I finally went back to do that first spell check, it felt like the whole thing might have been a work of fiction – someone else’s story.
My war was finally over.
Yancy Caruthers (1971- ) grew up in Alton, MO, and joined the Army Reserves at 17. He became a nurse, and worked in several areas until finding a passion in emergency medicine, which ultimately led to a job with an air ambulance company. He served in Iraq two different times, and retired from the Army as a Captain.
After this experience, he decided to leave the medical profession and pursue other endeavors. He has now lived on three continents, and is hoping to reside on at least three more. He currently lives with his family in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Author Links -
Publisher: Independent (CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing)
Release Date: eBook April 2014, paperback May 2014
Book Description: Northwest of Eden is the author’s first person account of his experience during Operation Iraqi Freedom as second-in-command of an Army emergency department and leader of an air transport team. The varied cast of characters provides top-notch medical care to service members in harsh conditions, while wielding the darkest humor against each other just to stay sane. Most of the time they succeeded…
When it finally came time to roll the bad guy over and look at his back, we found the wound that should have killed him. A bullet had entered over his right shoulder blade, then taken an unexpected right turn and followed the surface of the bone. It had skipped out without entering his chest, but had taken a fist-sized chunk of meat along with it. The hole had been packed with a bandage roll, but it wasn’t bleeding or bubbling, so I shoved a fresh wad of gauze into it and we rolled him flat again.
I turned my attention to the room’s other occupant, a soldier who wore a dusty pale green uniform and wore the 4th Infantry patch on his shoulder.
“So what exactly happened to this guy?” I asked.
The soldier exhaled sharply, and acted a bit bothered that I had asked, but he relayed the story that two guys had been spotted trying to set a roadside bomb, but had fled once they realized they had been discovered. Troops had pursued, and had ultimately cornered the two bad guys in a tiny house in a cluster of tiny houses.
When cornered the insurgents had fired back at the patrol with AK-47s, which is generally a bad idea, but these two hadn’t read the insurgent manual. When friendlies returned fire (which isn’t very friendly if you think about it) the two gentlemen had taken off out the back door.
One of them now wore a blindfold, and lay paralyzed and sedated in our trauma room, having been shot three times by some fairly pissed-off infantry troops. When he awoke, he would not be allowed to see his surroundings, or get a feel for the layout of the hospital. Those caring for him would have nametags removed, as it was a favorite habit of insurgents to pass all sorts of information using a soldier’s name, or make various allegations.
It was different, not like treating a drunk driver or sex offender back home, but trying to give good care to a man who wanted me dead, and would be certain to try if the opportunity presented itself. It was a game changer. I started every IV with a pistol on my hip.
I looked back at the corporal. He stood about five four, a good six inches shorter than me, and a full foot less than the guy on the recruiting poster. His arms were thick, but he still wore medium sized armor. I thought mine was bad enough, but this guy had additional Kevlar panels that covered each side of his torso. The plates alone probably added twelve more pounds. His short rifle was slung to his chest, but his right hand stayed draped over the pistol grip, index finger straight and off the trigger, but close enough.
The conspicuous thirty round magazine protruding from the bottom was something my soldiers only carried in their pocket, assuming they remembered it at all, and only unloaded it once a month to keep the spring from going bad.
I wondered how much of this kid’s adult life had been spent in a war zone. If I had been a bartender, I would have asked him for an ID. He might have been nineteen or twenty. He had dark eyes and dark hair, with fair, flawless skin. I speculated about his heritage, as he was some amalgam of two or three different origins. His mouth turned up slightly at one corner, in a kind of a permanent smirk. I had worked long enough in a profession dominated by females to know what women find attractive, and this guy was it. Had he been six feet tall, he would have had a group of nurses following him around.
What I wouldn’t have called him, however, was vibrant. He moved his head very slowly and deliberately, and his eyes never left his prisoner. I wasn’t sure he had even blinked. He reminded me of a coiled snake.
I decided to try some obnoxious humor. “Somebody need to go back and teach some marksmanship. This guy is shot three times with only one hit center mass.”
I expected a half-hearted grin or part of a laugh. The soldier just kept staring at his charge. His look softened a little, and his reply was deferential.
“I don’t know what their problem was, sir,” he said, shrugging one shoulder. “I killed the other guy. They didn’t shoot him enough times, I guess.”
There it was. He wasn’t responding to my joke, he was actually trying to explain why my patient was still alive. Except for the words themselves, it was normal conversation, and flowed as smoothly as the answer I would have gotten if I had asked him whether or not he had eaten chow today.