Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tracey Cramer-Kelly:True Surrender Blog Tour

I thrilled to have Tracey Cramer-Kelly as my guest today. She's here as part of her True Surrender Blog Tour and she’s sharing her inspiration for  the  book.
She’ll be giving away a Fallen Soldier T-Shirt (red, size TBD) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and all proceeds benefit so be sure to leave a comment. Find the other blog dates here:

The inspiration for True Surrender came from my military background as an Army National Guard paramedic (five years).
I wasn’t a very good soldier. In fact, people often react with bemused surprise when they find out. “You?” they say. “You took orders from others?” Not very well, I admit…but this was 20 years ago – I was young!

But I like to think I was a good medic. I loved splinting a broken leg. Inserting an IV. Dressing a sucking chest wound.

I joined the National Guard to help pay my way through college (my real aspiration); never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be activated.

Desert Storm changed that. One day I came home to a blink on my answering machine and a message from my Sergeant: “call me immediately.” My friend said I lost all color in my face; my legs went shaky and I had to sit down. Turns out that the Military Police unit that shared our armory had been activated and the purpose for the call was to reschedule our monthly training.

For the first time, it occurred to me that I might have to defend our country somewhere half-way around the world. That was not in my plans!

If it wasn’t in my plans then, thinking about what kind of sacrifice it would take NOW (when I have two young children and a business to run) … it’s almost more than I can fathom. When I think about it that way, it’s incredibly humbling what our military members do day in and day out.

When I started thinking about the character of Aaron Bricewick (Army officer held hostage by Afghan terrorists), I read memoirs from soldiers who’d been in Iraq, I watched war movies and I hung out with my Patriot Guard (a motorcycle club that presents the flag at military funerals) friends.

But when it came to getting into his head, I discovered … I already knew him. He was bits and pieces of people I’d known and snippets of encounters I’d had over the years. I tended to have male friends (the military and my hobbies compounded that) and I like to bond with others the way men do: by doing some sort of physical activity (like basketball, for example).

And I study men. In particular, how they react to problems. How they deal with intimacy and emotionally trying situations. How they struggle with identity and regrets. My male friends (and my husband!) will tell you that I’ve grilled them at some time or another about something or other. In my writing, I like to explore how a male character may change/be changed by events/situations (a major theme in both my published novels). Women want to ‘understand’ men and see the more vulnerable side of them? True Surrender gives them lots of that!
So how has my experience in the military affected my writing? I think everything I write is affected by what I’ve experienced. Yes, there’s a healthy dose of imagination and plenty of creative license, but a seed has to be sown somewhere, and for me the dual experience of military training and medical training turned out to be a rich garden.

What fascinates me about today’s military - especially since recent veterans are more accessible and  seem to be more … sharing(?) about their feelings - is the juxtaposition between service to country and service to family. This inherent conflict is something I’m only beginning to explore, I suspect!

True Surrender

When Major Aaron Bricewick is rescued from Afghanistan terrorists, he thinks the worst is over. But his personal journey is just beginning...

The first surprise is the amputation of one of his legs.

The second is the woman he left behind, now a widow with a 4-year-old son - and his new prosthetist (artificial limb maker).

He vows that losing his leg won't derail his career. But maintaining his outward appearance as a got-it-together officer becomes increasingly difficult as he faces one personal demon after another - and sees his career aspirations slipping away. And though he has no intention of expanding his life to include a woman, his heart has other ideas - and he finds himself questioning the very foundation of his personal beliefs.

When violence - and unexpected redemption - touch his life again, Aaron must make a stand. Which will he choose: duty or love?


            His bed was empty.

            Impossible, she thought.

            And then she saw him: motionless on the floor, a dark stain spreading underneath his body. A stain that she recognized instantly.


Oh my God, the terrorists found him!

This first irrational thought was immediately followed by a more trained response. She assessed the situation in the few moments it took her to cross the room. She hit the button on the intercom system, identified herself and requested help.

She dropped to her knees next to Aaron. She spoke as she ran her hands across the back of his neck. “Aaron! Can you hear me?” As soon as she was certain he had no neck or spinal injury, she shook him gently. “Aaron, it’s Holly. Talk to me, Aaron.”

His arms snapped up, flailing for a moment before his good hand clamped onto her wrist—hard. His eyes were wide open, and in them she saw terror…confusion… pain…

They engaged in a macabre tug-of war as Holly stated repeatedly, “Aaron, it’s me—Holly. You’re okay. Take it easy.”

After what seemed like a long time, she saw recognition seep into his eyes. But then he shut them tight, and his body went limp. He released her wrists and dropped his hands over his face. “Go away,” he whispered, his chest heaving.

            “I can’t do that, Aaron.”

            “You shouldn’t see me,” he said. “Not like this.”

            Unexpected tears stung her eyes.

            “This isn’t who I am,” he rasped.

            “You asked me to leave once already,” she said. “And I honored that request. Maybe I shouldn’t have. So please…”

            She locked her eyes onto his, which were open again. Surely he could see that she was close to tears, but she didn’t care. “Don’t ask me to walk away again.”
Author Bio:

Tracey’s work fuses writing, music and visual imagery whenever possible, and includes novels, short stories, essays and music videos. True Surrender is her second novel. Her first, Last Chance Rescue, is an Indie Award finalist. Her first full-length music video, The Rose (Surrender Version), includes scenes from True Surrender. Her writing draws from her experience as an Army Reserve paramedic and helicopter pilot. When not managing the family business, Leader Motorcycle Accessories, she enjoys motorcycling and outdoor activities with her husband and two young children.

Web site/blog:
Book Trailer:



Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Tracey today.

Tracey Cramer-Kelly said...

Gale, I want to thank you for taking the time to host me today!

I invite your visitors to submit any questions they might have (about the book or the writing process), and I will do my best to respond.

Calisa Rhose said...

Hi ladies!

Nailing those military men's emotions is a chore in itself. Congrats, Tracey. This is a deep excerpt. My first book (to release at the end of this month) has a war vet for the hero. I enjoyed writing that story as much as I'm sure you enjoyed writing this one. I think it's a wonderful thing you're doing with the profits.

Tracey Cramer-Kelly said...

Thanks Calisa, and good luck with yours!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences and the excerpt. Makes me want to read the book.

JP said...

Glad that Gale hosted you today Tracey, I'm quite intrigued by your writing style. Will be reading your works.