Stitches and Sepsis

Every once in a while I like to lend out my blog to announce the work of other writers. Today I have a guest post by Liz Faraim discussing her new book…

Liz Faraim

Author Bio:

Liz has a full plate between balancing a day job, parenting, writing, and finding some semblance of a social life. In past lives she has been a soldier, a bartender, a shoe salesperson, an assistant museum curator, and even a driving instructor. She focuses her writing on strong, queer, female leads who don’t back down.

Liz transplanted to California from New York over thirty years ago, and now lives in the East Bay. She enjoys exploring nature with her wife and son.

Pronouns: She/Her

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Author Twitter: @FaraimLiz

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People sometimes ask me where I get my inspiration for the stories I write. As a true “pantser,” meaning I do not plot my stories out in advance, it isn’t so much what inspires the entire story as much as what inspires individual scenes.

Here is a short scene from Stitches and Sepsis, which is book two of the Vivian Chastain series. I am dropping you in mid-flashback. Vivian is on overnight Headquarters Duty while at Army Basic Training and her battle buddy, Lanahan, is acting strangely. Read on after the excerpt to see what inspired me to write it.


“Martinez, J.,” I said, letting her know whose file I had opened. Lanahan nodded and slid the tip of her pencil along the form, searching for the name.

“G-got it,” she said, slurring a bit. We were exhausted, so I didn’t think anything of it. But, instead of checking off the first box on her form, she threw her pencil on the floor. I frowned. She picked the pencil up and nodded at me, showing she was ready. I flipped through the file, calling out the documents I saw.

Halfway through, Lanahan threw her pencil on the floor again. I stopped, impatience bubbling up in my chest. This was not the time or place to fuck around. Lanahan didn’t say anything but picked up her pencil again and looked at me, indicating that I should continue. I drew in a tense breath and continued. Lanahan threw her pencil down again, and I clenched my jaw. I looked up from the file, ready to cuss her out, but my breath caught in my throat.

Lanahan was rigid in her chair, her back and legs straight as a board. Her arms flew up in front of her and froze, as if she were reaching out to give someone a hug. Then her body went limp and she slumped in the chair. I put the folder down, watching her closely.

“Lanahan. Hey.”

No reply. I touched her shoulder hesitantly, and her entire body began convulsing, shuddering, pulsing. Her chair was next to the wall, and she struck her head on the wall a couple of times. I stood up, cradling her body loosely, and took her out of the chair. Her body bucked wildly against my gentle hold as I placed her on the floor. Squatting next to her, I grabbed her field jacket and placed it under her head.

“Drill Sergeant,” I shouted, a level of urgency in my voice that allowed for the breach in protocol. His boots scraped on the floor as he jogged around the corner and came to a halt next to me. I didn’t need to say anything further. He immediately picked up the phone and called for an ambulance.

Drill Sergeant and I stayed put by Lanahan’s side, observing in silence, knowing there was nothing to be done except make sure she didn’t bang her head too hard or aspirate as her body continued to convulse and shudder. Her eyes stared up blankly at the ceiling, eyelids fluttering intermittently.

The convulsions mercifully came to a halt. We were close to Montcrief Army Hospital, so the ambulance arrived quickly. The medics came in, loaded her up onto a gurney, and rolled her out to the ambulance without even taking her vitals.

“Chastain. Go with her. She needs a battle buddy.”

“Yes, Drill Sergeant.”

I jogged out behind the medics, shrugging on my field jacket and squaring a watch cap on my head. The cold didn’t hit me this time, as my adrenaline was running high. The medic told me to sit in the jump seat next to Lanahan’s gurney, and I obeyed. She lay under a blanket, her body limp and still. One medic sat in the back with us while the other drove the few blocks, lights and sirens on, piercing the silence of the frigid night.

“Does she have a history of seizures?” the medic asked me. I shrugged my shoulders, not willing to be the one who revealed Lanahan’s lie. I checked the medic’s rank on his collar.

“I’ve only known her since my boots hit the ground here eight weeks ago, Specialist. I haven’t seen her have a seizure until tonight.” It wasn’t technically a lie.


This scene was inspired by my own experience at Basic Training over two decades ago. While many years have passed, the memory of witnessing my “battle buddy” have a grand mal seizure will stay with me for a lifetime.  I have spent a lot of time over the years unpacking the complicated feelings that linger. On that night I was overflowing with concern and empathy for her as her body was hijacked, while also struggling with my own control issues because I was powerless to make it stop. But one thing I did learn was that despite not having the power to make it stop, I did have the ability to provide her comfort. Not to make this all about me, but it was a lesson well learned and seemed worthy to be included in Vivian’s story.

To buy Stitches and Sepsis…

Universal Buy Link


Liz is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:


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