Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blog Tour: The Fall of Our Secrets

Today I'd like to welcome Tracy Gardner Beno to the blog! Tracy has just released her novel The Fall of our Secrets, an adult mystery with romance, relationships and some serious emotion. The book follows childhood friends as they are reunited and rekindle their friendship as adults, eventually unravelling secrets and dealing with what is revealed.

Tracy agreed to a quick interview, so here goes:

Hi Tracy, thanks for visiting the blog! So, I'm curious...What caused you to first discover you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I started with song lyrics to short tunes I’d come up with on my guitar or piano. Sometime around the age of 13, I began writing short stories and poems. I loved English class throughout school, always felt like the weird kid because I’d get excited about book reports and creative writing assignments. In spite of that, I never entertained the idea of being a writer. My parents were both teachers, and my mom is a practical woman. She loves to write and has such an engaging voice, but she raised her two daughters to seek career paths that would allow us to easily support ourselves. After working for years as a Registered Nurse, and having my second child, I sat down at the computer one day and just started typing. The words poured out of me. I had an idea for a story about two friends, and I found once I had the first few paragraphs down, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. I’ve since completed two more novels. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to nurture my love of words, my addiction to writing. I know I will be writing long into my life, it’s something I just can’t resist.

I know that feeling....Could you name at least one person who is or was influential in the writing of THE FALL OF OUR SECRETS and in what way?

This is a tough question, but I like it! There were a few influential people. When I was little, I had a childhood friend who moved away, and in an age before texting, facetime, snapchat, etc, we lost touch. I loved her and her family, and I always missed her and wondered what her life was like. I should point out here that in spite of my leanings toward mystery romance novels, my literary roots are deeply grounded in the darker side of fiction; I grew up on Stephen King. When I began writing again as an adult, I took a sweet childhood long-lost friend idea and twisted it into something dark, departing quickly from any resemblance to my real childhood friend.
One other person gets credit for me actually finishing The Fall of Our Secrets. Friend Rocsana invited me to join her book club a few years ago. I’ve never joined a club in my life. Not quite sure what made me say yes, but we began talking books, and when she asked to read the story I’d written, I was ashamed to admit I’d written all but the last few chapters. She is the reason I finished the story, at least when I did. Who knows how long I might have taken, procrastinator that I am!

Nothing like a good friend to help you along! What is coming up next for you in your writing career?

I have two stories in progress. One is a follow up to the coming of age novel I recently finished. The coming of age story explores nineteen year old Danni’s struggles after losing her twin, falling in love with the wrong man and finally finding the right one. The sequel is exciting for me, as I became so attached to Danni and her BFF Tommie and can’t wait to accompany them for “what happens next.”
The other book is a contemporary women’s fiction about a mother and her teenage daughter who are forced to start new lives in the stark beauty of Alaska, each discovering lost pieces of themselves they hadn’t realized were missing.

Thank you so much, Tracy for visiting. And good luck with your book!

Intrigued? You can buy Tracy's book here! And here's a little more about Tracy...

Tracy Gardner Beno is a Metro Detroit native who has lived in and around small, rural communities like those described in The Fall of Our Secrets. Her stories draw readers in with recognizable characters and real emotion, seasoned with intrigue and a dash of humor. She loves spending time with her husband and two children, reading, writing, and catching her favorite bands in concert as often as possible. She works as a Registered Nurse in her day job and when she's not writing novels she contributes short stories and articles to Verite Magazine where she's a staff writer.

You can find out even more about Tracy on her website:
Or on Facebook or Twitter!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Military Monday: From Here

Those of you who follow my Facebook posts will have seen the small issue I had with a comment made on my blog last week. (You can find it HERE--scroll to the bottom and click on comments). The comment itself seems harmless enough, and perhaps the commenter, whoever he/she is, didn't fully read my blog post before stating his or her own opinion.

I believe all military spouses are entitled to their opinion and as such, this commenter is entitled to her (or his) own thoughts. I do thank her because she has spurred some lively discussion (and a huge outpouring of support...thank you everyone!) and has caused me to ask some interesting introspective questions.

"...if you aren't from the area (you aren't) probably shouldn't be making comments like this if you want to make friends"--Anonymous


Just, wow.

Here's the deal. I grew up in small town New Brunswick. Graduated from high school at 16, and haven't lived in my home town since. Not counting inter-city moves on the same posting, I have lived in 16 different places in three different countries since that time. The longest I have lived in one home is three years.

So where am I from?

If I were to move back to my home town (where, incidentally, I still own property), would I feel at home? Would people there say I was from there? Or would they look at me and say I was a foreigner? The truth of the matter is, other than friends I've kept in touch with throughout the years, there are many who wouldn't recognize me. And the town, though the same in some ways, is different in others. I'm sure the wonderful people there still consider me a native, but is that what I think of as home?

Home is a fleeting thought for most military spouses.

It's even worse for military kids. My kids have been with us on all of those moves, so where do they say they are from? One of my children actually thinks of home as 'Grammie and Grampie's place'...where she has never lived.

In reality, we, as military spouses, have willingly given up our roots for the service of our country by choosing to follow our service members wherever they go. Very few military families end up living in their home towns. They live where they are sent, for short periods of time, and then they pack up and move again. As such we are 'from' where we live.

I'll repeat that.

I am from HERE.

I live here. I pay taxes here. My family is here. My furniture, my kids' schools, my job, my grocery store, my pharmacy, my dog, my cat...are all here. In an election, I would vote here.

My home is here.

So I am entitled to an opinion about here. As is every military spouse that lives in this town.

We are here because our spouses have chosen to wear a uniform and stand up for the beliefs that this country, this province and this town hold dear. In a crisis, our spouses would be the first to stand up for here. They would put their lives on the line for every last one of the residents of this place, regardless of where they were born. As would I. It is our civic responsibility--especially as parents--to take part in local educational debates. Our taxes support these schools and we have a right to be involved in their administration.

I even have friends here. Genuine people. Some of whom grew up right here. Do they agree with every one of my thoughts? I don't know. Probably not. But they are my friends because they like me because of who I am, not because they agree or disagree with my opinions. As far as I know, the best way to have a friend is to be one, and those who know me will be aware of my loyalty to my friends. If I were from somewhere else, why would it matter? True friendship has no borders.

Where am I from? Here. And I'm proud to say it.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

SPLINTERS Blog Tour and Giveaway

Please welcome Fiona and Matt, as they celebrate the new release of their co-written YA horror novel: Splinters! We've seen Fiona here before as she released Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) earlier this year, and both Matt and Fiona are agent and publisher mates of mine.

As Fiona hosted me for my Dependent blog tour, asking me about my fears...I thought turnaround was fair play and stuck her with the following questions:

What frightens each of you and why? And where do you feel safe?

Here's Fiona's response:

The flashiest and most obvious answer to what frightens me is G-force. I have severe barophobia, the fear of changes in gravity. I have issues with things like amusement park rides, elevators, airplanes, anything that makes it feel like gravity isn’t working the way it should.

Why? Am I afraid of death or injury by falling? Am I afraid of being literally crushed to death by gravity? No, nothing so pseudo-rational. I’m afraid of the fall, not the landing.

F.J.R. Titchenell
So… what? So I have an irrational phobia that’s a pain when I go to Disneyland. I got a pretty cool horror short story out of it once, if I do say so myself, but that’s about all the material a fear of gravity has to offer, a short story. On its own it doesn’t seem all that meaningful.

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to figure out that, hand in hand with my less dramatic fears of failure, wasted time, anesthesia, riptides, and excess calories, my barophobia was a symptom of my fundamental fear of losing control.

So, having figured out the root of the problem, I’m all better now? Um… no. I can’t switch off being a control freak any more than I could stop loving books. It’s who and what I am, and I accept the problems with the advantages (hey, I do have killer willpower). I’ve been able to work on some things, learned to stress a bit less, and I’d dare say I’ve kicked my tendencies toward disordered eating, but the barophobia remains, too irrationally ingrained to be removed by rational thought.

What awareness of my issues does allow me to do (other than share them honestly with blog readers), is understand a large part of what frightens people. There are many more people with fears like mine, if to different degrees and with different manifestations. As a horror author, I’ve found that a large part of frightening people is figuring out exactly how much of the illusion of control to give them (or their surrogate main characters), and when to take it away.

Like giving the rebel teens of Prospero homemade flamethrowers and Tasers to fend off the superpowered monsters who run their town.

Where do I feel safe? Other than with my amazingly patient, compassionate and understanding husband at my side, my coziest safezone is with my fingers on the keyboard. As well as making me a better horror writer, my fears are part of what make me a writer in the first place. As every control freak hates to hear, the one thing we can hope to control is ourselves, our own thoughts and reactions to the world. What better way to stave off the fear of powerlessness than by getting to purge, organize, analyze and understand my own thoughts, and then reshape and use them to make something positive and new, into the best story I can tell?

Thanks Fiona! And here's what Matt had to say about his fears:

I could go into a full list of rational, adult fears and why each of them gets to me (failure, loss of a loved one, etc.), but we all know that’s not what you want to hear. We all have those rational fears, and they’re not much more fun to read about than they are to actually have. No, if you’re reading this,
Matt Carter
you want to hear about our crazy, irrational fears that make us seem more like little kids than responsible adult authors.

So, let’s bring the crazy.

The biggest one for me has always been Chucky. Yeah, the killer doll. The fictional one (though truth be told I don’t know of any real killer dolls, which is probably a really good thing). When I was three I caught a good chunk of the original Child’s Play on TV, and, well, in my impressionable young mind that was afraid of pretty much everything, I got a little warped. Flash forward two decades, me in my mid-20’s, a huge fan of horror and all things creepy, and still Chucky gave me the willies. I could stand the most hardcore horror, and the briefest image of him still gave me the sweats and a faster heartbeat.

I’m better now. One day I made myself sit down and watch the movie and now it’s one of my favorites, but damn if I still don’t get that kneejerk reaction sometimes when I see him.

You see, I’ve always had an active imagination that’s always gone past the realm of rational, understanding thought. Even when I know something is fake, that it’s all just smoke and mirrors, I have a hard time not letting it get to me if it just manages to tickle my scary bone. Perfect example? The first time I saw Cabin Fever, I didn’t drink tap water for three days. I knew it was safe, that it wasn’t infected with some strain of flesh eating bacteria that would rot my flesh off the bones, but damn it if it didn’t make me pause anyway.

I was 18 at the time, for what it’s worth.

I’m a lot better, and a lot more cynical right now, so these sorts of things haven’t been an issue for a while, but I gotta say, sometimes it feels good to let these irrational fears in, since they do have their own way of helping the rational fears feel just a little bit smaller.

Thanks Fiona and Matt! Matt, I'm glad you got over the tap water thing...not easy surviving without, well...water. It's rather essential. Hope to have you back again!

You can find more about this quirky pair on their respective websites...

You can find F.J.R. Titchenell online here:

And more about Splinters here: 

And now, if you'd like to win a copy of Splinters, click on the giveaway below. Good luck!