Friday, November 14, 2008

Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner & Giveaway

Deep roots. Deeply rooted. Those are two things Lucy and Kitty share in Ruby Among Us. Lucy, Kitty’s granddaughter, is searching for her roots. Kitty is deeply rooted to keeping Lucy away from her family. Lucy on the other hand is deeply rooted to the fact she’s going to find her mother’s family no matter what. Kitty is so afraid to go back to her deep roots, she’s caused a lot pain.

This book is filled with “what if’s”. Is your life like that? My “what ifs” are as numerous as the stars in the sky. The end of the book was a struggle for me in a good way because it made me reflect on how I've lived my life. I never go into a book wondering what I'm going to come away having learned. I go in for the enjoyment and the escape. I was so surprised when this book caused me to take a look at my relationship with my kids.

As we travel Lucy's road with her growing up, we see the tenderness she has for her mom, Ruby. Ruby also seems to have adored her daughter. Lucy was her world. Ruby, we learn, had secrets of her own though that set things up in her life following somewhat in her mother's footsteps. It's amazing how the past sometimes repeats itself.

Ruby Among Us isn't light reading or full of fluff. This is a deeply moving novel. You have no choice but to journey along with Lucy as her past begins to reveal itself in bits and pieces. Tina's writing compels you to continue on. As a debut author, Tina has, in my opinion, made a wonderful entrance! She has created characters that gripped my heart. Her location in CA was rich and vivid, and I felt like I was in that setting. The end of her book has questions that will have you reflecting on the story and the deeper meanings infused into the story.

Let's take a few minutes to connect with Tina.

Thank you so much Tina for joining us. I hope our interview brings readers closer to knowing you as an author.

Are you a wine connoisseur? Did you do a lot of research on the CA wine country for Ruby Among Us? I remember visiting the Chateau St. Michelle in WA when I lived there and actually saw Kenny G in concert. It was a beautiful place.
I don’t know if I would call myself a wine connoisseur, but I have fun with it. My husband and I are part of the Wine of the Month club and we have fun comparing our own tastes to what the little brochures say. We’re almost always wrong.

We love the Napa and Sonoma valleys and visited them just this summer. It’s such a beautiful place. And I know about wineries being in Washington and Oregon, but did you know there are wineries and vineyards in the Grand Junction, Colorado area?
It’s fun to sample the wines, but even if one doesn’t taste the wines, there are always olive oils, vinegars, olives, fruits and cheeses to test, not to mention the beautiful scenery and excellent food.

I’m rambling. You asked about research. Yes, if you call hanging out in the valley research!

How did you decide on the location of your novel? Do you have any family history in wine making?
No, I don’t, but I wish I did! Wouldn’t that be neat, to own a vineyard like the DiCamillo family?

I got the idea to set my novel in the Sonoma Valley because I lived in Sacramento for five years while attending college. Just about every other weekend I had the opportunity to visit the valley while visiting family friends who lived in Santa Rosa. The scenery just grew on me. It was beautiful.

Is this your first attempt at writing? How long did it take for you to get published after you sat down at your computer and sent out your manuscript? Did you have any critique groups that helped you though the process?

I’ve written for many years, so Ruby Among Us wasn’t my first attempt at writing, but it was my first attempt at writing a full-length novel. After writing the first few paragraphs, I waited a few years until my life settled a bit to get back to those particular pages. Being a single mom kept me from writing very much. Maybe I was just bad at prioritizing, but either way I wrote very little for a few years.

When I actually sat down, it took me nine months. I wrote in 30 – 45 minute increments every day.

I did not have a critique group, but I still find inspiration with my writing friends and learn about the craft from books and my editor. I also enjoy writing workshops at various conferences.

Have you found that learning the language of the publishing world to be confusing? When I see acronyms (ARC, POV, WIP), I blanch and then I think there's no way I'd be able to remember all the rules of writing. I'd feel such a dolt trying to talk to published writers. Do you have any books that you keep beside you as your write?

I feel like a dolt almost every time I talk to another writer. They all seem so smart and use all these big words. They are so much smarter than I am, but I don’t let that deter me.

I always have a craft book on my desk. When I need a break I’ll grab one and read a chapter or a passage. The ones I like best are by successful authors who share their journeys like Amy Tan and Anne Lamott. Hearing that these authors have been through rough times in their writing career is encouraging.

Where did you get the idea for this novel? Do you feel like the Lord put this story in your heart? What was the process like getting the story from your heart onto paper? Did you run into any roadblocks?

In Ruby Among Us, the desire of Lucy’s heart is to know everything she can about her deceased mother. If only her grandmother wouldn’t hide the truths that Lucy so desperately needs to know, keeping them both imprisoned in a past that Lucy doesn’t even understand.
Lucy’s journey to find her heritage was born out of many questions and frustrations I had at one time about my faith, why I was raising my daughter alone, and how things had not turned out the way I had envisioned. The difference is that I had grown up with wonderful parents, a very strong faith, and probably knew the words to Jesus Loves Me before I could even sing them. My frustrations were difficult, but not compared to what Lucy, who doesn’t have her mother or faith to fall back on, must confront in the story.
The idea for Ruby Among Us didn’t come to me as a novel at first. When I wrote the earliest paragraphs, I really didn’t know if they would ever even become a short story, let alone a novel. I started out with a few paragraphs about a girl who has just lost her mom and because her father isn’t in her life, the only person left to take care of her is the grandmother, Kitty.
It’s difficult for me to talk about at times, but sure, I do see some of myself in my characters even though they are fictional. In fact, the inspiration for my story started when I was still a single mom. At that time, I was constantly worried that something might happen to me and that as a result, my little girl, a toddler then, wouldn’t have me in her life anymore. Even though she has a father, as a single mom I just felt a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility for my child’s future on my shoulders. It came out on the page when I was free writing those first few chapters.

I do feel like God brought me this story, or maybe he brought me to this story.

Roadblocks? Just finding the time. That was hard, which is why I wrote at 5:00 am.

What did your family think when you told them you were writing a novel and were serious about being published? Did you believe that one day you'd be published when you were younger?

They thought it was great. My husband, especially, was encouraging. The closer I got to The End, the more excited we both got.

When I was younger, I did believe I would be published. Young people hold on to such dreams quite easily. It’s too bad they sometimes let go when they get older.

The older I got, the more I retreated into my writing shell and was just happy to write for myself. I tried not to think about being published. It seemed like an impossible thing.

It’s a good thing other people didn’t let me do that or I wouldn’t be published today.

Are you a gardener? I love gardening. I don't know the first thing about it but do it anyhow.
I don’t necessarily know a lot about it, but fancy myself a real gardener. I first started gardening on my own when I lived in England. My friend and I picked up some cheap six packs of flowers at the town market and popped them in the ground. To my amazement, they grew! They loved the rich moist soil there.

When I got to California, the temperatures were so mild that again, almost anything would grow as long as it had water.

Wyoming is different. I call it cowboy gardening here. One must wrangle the soil and the plants and take lots of chances because bad weather can destroy it all on any given day. We also have very short growing seasons, but it’s worth it.

I first learned about gardening in Wyoming when I was single and gardened with my daughter at the Cheyenne Botanic community gardens. When I got married, I had a backyard, so I started gardening at home. My garden now is only about three years old, but it’s maturing.

I believe peonies and dahlias are gorgeous perennials. I think one of my favorites is the Gerbera Daisy. I always thought it was a "Gerber" daisy. They just look so happy. What's your favorite flower? (I've tried veggie gardening the last couple years. This year didn't go so well because of the weather and lack of time to commit to them.)

Veggies can be difficult! I love Gerberas. They are so cheerful and vibrant. My favorites are Shasta Daisy and Zinnia. The Shasta Daisy was created by Luther Burbank in Santa Rosa, California, so they remind me of my time in California. If you ever get a chance to visit the Luther Burbank gardens, it’s an interesting field trip.

I love the cover of your book. Did you have any input as to how it would look or did Waterbrook/Random House just send you a copy of what it would look like? How awesome that you received an Honorable Mention for the Book Cover Contest at the Stepping Stones Magazine website.
Thank you! I had input as far as my thoughts, etc. They were careful to get my input about what I did and didn’t like about book covers in general. As far as how it turned out, the designers and the team at WBP had everything to do with that.

The cover for Rose House is just as spectacular. I provided less input this time, but since they really already knew what I liked, the cover is perfect. I’m so blessed.

I love that Ruby Among Us was part of the Stepping Stones Magazine contest. I love that ezine!

What is your next project that you are working on? When should we expect to see your next novel?

Rose House is turned in and comes out in May of 2009. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon (which you can get to by clicking the Amazon link), but the cover isn’t up yet.

I’m also working on three different proposals and we’ll see where they go. I won’t wait to sell them though. I’m already writing the next book.

Thank you for having me. I love your site and am so glad I got to meet you in Minneapolis! You are a sweetheart and such a great promoter of fiction.
To win a copy of Tina's book, tell me if you've ever been to a vineyard, wine sampling, or the Sanoma Valley. You don't have to have been to any of them, I'd just love to hear of your experience. I will pick a US resident winner November 21. Please leave your email (ie: mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com) so I can contact you. If you don't leave a way to contact you on your comment page, I won't be able to enter you in the contest. This is really important to me. Thank you SOOO much ahead of time for your understanding in this matter. :)
If you'd like to visit Tina's website, you can go to:


Sandee61 said...

Hi...I'd like to be entered in your giveaway. Thank you!
To answer your question...yes, I have been to several wineries here in Ohio. We go with friends in the summer up to Lake Erie where most are located, and spend wonderful evenings there listening to nice music, sample wines and of course, eat. I've been to a couple California wineries years ago, but not Sanoma Valley. It sounds very nice. Thanks for the interesting interview of this new-to-me author.
I look forward to reading her books.

Sandy G.

Janna said...

I personally think this is one of the most beautiful book covers I've seen this year - I love it! I also happen to LOVE the book as I have read and reviewed it as well. You don't have to enter me for the drawing, but if you would, I would gladly gift this book to someone I know and let them get acquainted with Tina's writing as well :-)

ryanx6 at msn dot com

Margaret said...

Hi MiMi. I woould love to win this book. Yes, I have been to a couple of wineries and sampled in both of them. One was in Indiana and the other her in Ohio, Breitenbach Winery. Excellent wines! Thanks for a chance to win.

hippmom said...

This summer I visited one right outside my town , here in Nebraska. The wine was very nice. My father's jazz band was playing outside. My kids got up close to see how the grapes are processed and they ran around taking pictures for a 4-H project. We even took grapes home to make jelly. It was a lovely afternoon.

The interview with Tina was an enjoyable read. Thanks. Please enter my name for the drawing.

angelahipp at charter dot net

Carole said...

I would love to read Tina's book, so thanks for the giveaway.

About 25 years ago, my husband took me with him on a business trip to Boston. The company was located in a warehouse on the waterfront, and the boss's secretary took me to visit a winery in the cellar. After the tour, I was offered my choice of wines, and I chose a sweet peach wine. What an incredible trip!

My other experience came as a child when I tasted my great uncle's homemade wine in the mountains of north Georgia. Another memorable experience!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Miralee Ferrell said...

What fun getting to know Tina a bit better. I was blessed to share a table with her at the Mall of America book signing in Sept, and you're right, she's a very sweet gal!

Nope, never visited a winery, as I made the decision years ago not to drink anything alcoholic, even the mildest of wines. Just a personal decision, so no reason to visit wine country. My dh and I did travel through the Sonoma Valley one time tho, and it's a beautiful, tranquil area. I'd very much enjoy reading Tina's book and would love to win a copy. Thank you for hosting her and giving us this opportunity.

Miralee Ferrell

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed eavesdropping on your conversation with Tina Ann, and would love to enter the giveaway (great idea). I'm feeling lucky today because I get to meet Tina in person, tonight, at an event here in Cheyenne.

Wine country... ah, yes. It's all coming back to me now. It was 1987 - my honeymoon (husband #1) in the Santa Ynez valley of California. We were making the rounds of some wineries. My now-exhusband had a much greater capacity for alcohol consumption than I, so my main memory is from a photograph that shows me sitting on some brick steps, waving my glass of wine and making conversation with a hound dog. That was the last of my wine tasting career.

Mimi N said...

hey there "annonymous", you didn't leave a way for me to contact you for the giveaway so you won't be able to be in the contest. Sorry!:(


He & Me + 3 said...

Please enter me in the drawing. No, I have never been to any vineyards or to any wine sampling places.

He & Me + 3 said...

forgot my email address.
dornx4 at hotmail dot com

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.