Friday, June 13, 2008

Win An Signed Copy of Tina Ann Forkner's Ruby Among Us!

A couple weeks ago I received an endorser copy of Tina Forkner's debut novel, Ruby Among Us, in the mail. To be honest, I didn't know a lot about the book other than I was intrigued by the title. For the next few days life got in the way and I didn't have time to really get into reading the book except for the first few chapters. Finally! Last weekend I was able to sit down and really start to read. And, I couldn't stop until I came to the last page!

I have done a lot of research in my own family history and can so appreciate the desire of the main heroine's hunger to know her heritage. Trying to learn your heritage when most of the people who could have told you about it have passed away is difficult. How many times have I wished that my grandparents were still alive so I could pick their brains? Hundreds. How much information is lost forever because in my twenties when they were still alive, I wasn't that interested? Only God knows.

Unlike me, Lucy DiCamillo, the character from whose viewpoint the story is told, has wanted to know her family heritage from a very young age. Having lost her mother, Ruby, when Lucy was only eight, she was raised by her grandmother, Kitty. Lucy has only vague memories of her mom and their life together before her mother's death. Kitty has answers to Lucy's many questions, but she is hesitant to share them all. As the past's truths are slowly revealed, Lucy grows as a person and rediscovers a faith in God in the process.

Forkner's writing is deep and pulls the reader into the hearts of these three women, all connected through family heritage, all so similar to each other, while at the same time so different. You will love this book!

Tina agreed to answer some questions that I had after reading this wonderful book, AND . . . she has agreed to provide a signed copy of Ruby Among Us to a single winner whose name is pulled from the comments left on this post. Sorry, only U.S. residents, please.

So without further delay. Let's get on with the interview. Tina, thanks so much for joining us on A Writer's Journey.

  1. Ruby Among Us is your debut novel. Is this story your first novel you ever penned?

I’ve been writing steadily since I was a kid, but Ruby Among Us was the first novel I actually completed. Before Ruby, I studied writing in college and wrote fiction, poetry and essay, but I still have more to learn!

  1. Trace for us your road to publication. Did it go through many drafts before it caught the attention of an editor? How long did it take you to write the story?

I finished Ruby Among Us before it found an editor, so I took it through several drafts prior to that point. My writing is what some people call organic and the nature of it is to go back and rewrite over and over throughout the entire process.

I was invited by an editor to submit my work during an ACFW conference, but it was rejected. My publishing contract didn’t come until I found an agent who ultimately sold my manuscript to Waterbrook Press. Having an agent really was a blessing in my case.

I have been writing for years and years and it took me nine months to write Ruby Among Us, but I am blessed that my publishing contract came much faster than anyone ever expected. I am just very blessed.

  1. The setting is in the Sonoma Valley in California . Is this an area you are familiar with even though you live in Wyoming? What led you to set the story there?

During my mid-twenties I lived in Sacramento where I attended school at Sac State. During those 5 years I spent a few weekends a month either visiting the Sierras or going to visit friends in Santa Rosa. So, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Sonoma Valley during the visits to Santa Rosa. During that time, the setting just grew on me. I loved the gardens, the vineyards, the people and everything about the area.

  1. How much research was involved in putting this story together?

Honestly not a lot. For the setting, I drew from my own experiences of living and traveling in that area. For cultural relevance, I sought advice from friends who are Hispanic and Mexican-American. They helped me with some naming and just making sure I was accurate in my portrayal of a family that has a mixed heritage.

  1. Talk a little about the three women in your story. You weave these ladies’ lives together so intricately. Three generations, so much alike and yet so different. How did their characterizations evolve as you wrote the story.

I think Ruby was the first character to evolve. From the very beginning I was writing about a single mom and I was a single mom, so it just came naturally.

Kitty, the grandmother, evolved by accident. I knew she would be important because I wanted to have that grandmother-granddaughter bond, but I had no idea she would become such a powerful character. She was just the rich, wonderful older woman who came along and directed the whole thing!

Lucy’s character, the granddaughter, also developed as the story unfolded, but because I already knew she was going to be struggling with trying to remember her mother, I shaped her personality around that. Lucy really had to be the kind of person who doesn’t watch television very often or care a great deal about the internet, or pop culture. So Lucy ended up being a very introspective person who doesn’t explore much beyond her own home and expresses her longing for her mother’s memories through artistic endeavors. She is in many ways a recluse surrounded by an artful life.

I also happen to come from a family where there were lots of aunts always around. I think the weaving of their lives and generations wormed its way into the book.

  1. According to your bio, you serve on your county’s foundation of board of directors. Describe your work and how it helps your writing career or doesn’t help.

I absolutely love working with my library. In fact, just last weekend, my library was the recipient of Laramie County Library of the Year Award as showcased in the Library Journal.

I can’t take on too many volunteer projects, so one rule I made was that it had to be something I’m really passionate about and doesn’t work against my being an author.

You’re a writer too, so you know how easy it is to get overwhelmed with volunteer activities. Sometimes we forget to let people know that we have jobs! Writing is my job and the library just fits so perfectly with that.

At the library, I get the opportunity to work with people who first and foremost love to read books. And sometimes I even get to meet other wonderful writers when they make appearances. It’s inspiring to me and it feels good to give back.

  1. Describe a typical day for you and how you fit writing into the mix.

It has changed a lot now that I’m published. In addition to writing, I also have to take time for publicity and other things that fall into the “business” of writing. Most mornings I try to get up by 6:00 am. I do a quick email check, spend some time chatting with my husband before work, get kids situated and try to be writing by 9am. I like to write for a few hours, take a break to work out or eat, and then writing a little more. This of course is the perfect day. It rarely actually happens exactly that way.

  1. Is there a sequel to Ruby Among Us? If not, what are you working on now?

I have a second book coming out from Waterbrook Press in 2009 that is a standalone, but uses the same setting and gives many glimpses of some of the characters from Ruby Among Us.

Thanks so much Tina, for taking the time to answer my questions. You can visit Tina at her website at:

Now it's your turn! Click on the link to comments below and leave your name and contact information so that I can put your name in the hat to win a signed copy of Ruby Among Us.
U.S. residents only. I will be drawing the name on Tuesday evening, June 17th. You have until 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time that day to get your name in.


Bethany said...

I am really excited to see a Wyoming Christian author, as I spent 10 years as a teen and young adult in Green River, WY. It's a place that's dear to my heart.
"Ruby Among Us" sounds like a beautiful and well-done book that I would love to read. Please enter me in the drawing.
Thank you,
jimmynmatthewsmom [at] gmail [dot] com

Diana said...

This sounds like a fantastic book!

Sharon A. Lavy said...

I've toured the Sonoma Valley in California so I would be able to picture the setting.

Please put my name in the drawing.

Anonymous said...

Please enter me in your contest for Tina's Ruby Among Us. I love reading debut novels (and supporting debuting authors). :) Thanks. Dawn

Tanya said...

I am so excited that her book got published. As a wanna be writer that inspires me. I would love to read her story!


Julie Lessman said...

Great interview Tina and Pam! And, Pam, you sold me ... throw my hat in the ring for this book, please, because now I have to have it, you little brat! :)


gsus at charter dot net

Tina Helmuth said...

Great interview, Pam. Sounds like a good book, too. I've read other books set in the Sonoma Valley, and though I've never been there, it sounds beautiful.

My contact info is in my profile.

Jo said...

What a great interview and the book sounds wonderful. Please enter me in the drawing.


kamewh said...

Sounds like a good book! Please enter me :)

tetewa said...

Thanks for the interview and introducing me to another new author, count me in!

Grateful Gramma said...

I would love to read this one! Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

lisalickel said...

I appreciate your joy, Pam, at giving first time authors a voice. I loved reading how Tina worked through the process.
Thank you,
Lisa Lickel

Pamela J said...

This could be an eye opener for the ones of us who are old enough to be mentoring and shaping the newer, younger generation. I'm very interested in the whole story, doubly so with how the Grandmother shares and guides the Granddaughter: the why or why not in her giving information that is desired. Please enter me.
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Shirley Kiger Connolly said...

Hi, Tina,

Great interview! I raised my children in the Santa Rosa/Healdsburg area, so I know the Sonoma (Valley) County area really well.
I am anxious now to read your book!

Please enter me. I would love to win one if it was possible.

(Shirley Kiger Connolly)

TK said...

Sounds like a great read. Please enter me in your drawing. Thanks, TK. vcw1476(at)gmail(dot)com

Cheryl Shryack said...

I would love to read this book. Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone. I can't wait to see who wins and thanks so much for your encouraging comments. I hope the book speaks to all of you.

Bethany, my Wyo sister, bless you.

Shirley, I hope I did the Sonoma area justice.

Bonnie Leon said...

Sounds like an interesting read. And the Sonoma area is a great location for a story.

Hope I win!


Carole said...

I love the theme of Ruby Among Us and hope to read it soon. Thank you for the chance to win a copy!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Stacey said...

the book looks amazing. Please include me in the drawing. Thanks.


Carolynn W. said...

Please enter me, I would love to read it!