CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR LATEST RELEASE?
Board to Death is a trio of mystery novellas centered on a theme of board games. Amy Barkman (AB) wrote Victim, Debbie Roome (DR) wrote Mind Games, and I, Tracy Ruckman (TR), wrote Sentenced. It is Christian fiction, and our stories could be called “cozy mysteries” – clean, wholesome fun. It is published by Write Integrity Press.
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING IN YOUR RESEARCH THAT SURPRISED YOU?
AB: Yes, something surprised me, not in the research itself but in the writing. For the first time ever I got a hint of how God must feel - I created these characters, and then they surprised me by taking over their own lives and doing things I didn’t plan for them!
DR: I interviewed a policeman and learnt that a body may be left at a crime scene for two days or more while they conduct their investigation.
TR: Ewww, Debbie. I'm going to have to check into that here now, to see if that happens here. I sure hope not! Actually, I learned something specific during my research too, but I can’t share it. It's a spoiler! LOL!
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT WRITING?
AB: I love to read, travel, and study, but I’m in full time ministry, so there’s not a lot of extra time after ministry work and writing. But since writing is pure joy to me, that’s okay.
DR: I read a lot, travel extensively around New Zealand, and am involved in my church worship team. I play piano mostly but also guitar and bass guitar. I also enjoy riding quad bikes on the beach with my husband and dog.
TR: I’m currently a fulltime student, and publisher of two companies, so there’s not much time when I’m not writing or editing something. But other than school and work, I like to cook, travel. I love exploring new things – in person or online, so I’m always into something. I think I'm going to have to plan a trip to New Zealand pretty soon!
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
AB: My mid-grade novel, Which Witch?, releases later this month, and my non-fiction book, Everyday Spiritual Warfare, came out in September. In addition to these, and Victim, I've completed a full-length mystery, a full-length women’s fiction, and a children’s historical fiction (1987). I've also written one musical play, which was produced in 2009, and several short stories. I’m in the process of writing another mid-grade book, another nonfiction, another mystery, and in the planning stages of a second novella (for Hands of Death, the second book in The Dangerous Games Series).
DR: I wrote the history of our church by going through record books dating back to the early 1950s. My novel, Embracing Change, took first place in the Rose & Crown novel writing competition in 2009. Magnitude 7.1 & 6.3, releasing this month, is my story of the Christchurch earthquakes and includes contributions from 40 other writers. I also have stories published in over a dozen anthologies.
TR: I’ve completed two full-length novels, one novella, one full-length script, one short script, and have two novels in progress. One or both of those may also be turned into a script – but we’ll see. One of the novels in progress should be completed by the first of the year, and the next book in the Dangerous Games Series will be released early next summer.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
AB: Don’t give up, even if you have to lay your dreams and your books on the shelf for a while. Keep believing in their message and ability to enrich people’s life, and their time will come.
DR: Writing is a way of life. Everything I see and experience has potential to end up in a story one day. Try carrying a notebook wherever you go and write down flashes of inspiration. Remember also that you can learn to write on demand. You don’t have to wait for an entire story to fall into your mind. It may come bit by bit.
TR: Write every day. Even if it’s only 100-500 words, write something. Make it a routine so that writing becomes a natural habit. Realize and admit that your writing now will not, hopefully, be as good as your writing in five or ten years - you will grow, improve, and discover your voice. Keep writing, keep improving, keep submitting your stories.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START WRITING?/WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER?
AB: I can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a writer, actually I can’t remember when I wasn’t a writer. I’ve written poetry, booklets, humor columns for a newspaper, won several short fiction contests, devotionals for radio, skits for live performances. I wrote regulations and forms for state government, sermons, radio shows, workshop materials, retreat materials. It seems that no matter what situation I’ve found myself in, writing was part of my lifework.
DR: I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was six. It was about a pixie named Agarel and filled a spiral bound notebook. I sold my first story to the children’s section of a major Johannesburg newspaper when I was eight. At school I won many awards and certificates for poetry and creative writing and went on to do freelance work for newspapers and magazines in Zimbabwe and South Africa. I moved to New Zealand in 2006 and determined to make writing my full time career. I write everyday and have never been more fulfilled.
TR: Back in the 80s, I sent a letter to the editor of a Christian women's magazine. A year later, I got a letter from the editor, apologizing for the delay, and offering me money to publish my words as an article rather than as a letter. That started a lifelong pursuit of publication, even though I was part-time for many years. I wrote fulltime for a few years in-between, and have published hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines, and online markets. In 2009, one of my stories was published in the Christmas Miracles book. This summer, I started writing fulltime again.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS?
AB: Agatha Christie - all her mysteries and novels, I love cozy mysteries. Kate Kingsbury’s Pennyfoot Hotel series keep me laughing. C.S. Lewis: I’ve read The Chronicles of Narnia at least twelve times each, his space trilogy four or five times each, The Great Divorce, Til We Have Faces, and Mere Christianity at least four times each and all his other books once. Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers and Coming Home, also re-read. Elizabeth Goudge’s The Scent of Water - read at least ten times. Virginia Smith’s Just As I Am and the sequel Sincerely Mayla, The Sister-to Sister trilogy along with all her other books and her new books co-written with Lori Copeland, especially Lost Melody. Ann Gabhart’s Holly Hill and Shaker series, Angel Sister and her other books. Jan Karon’s Mitford series.
DR: I read widely, but current favorites are Richard Paul Evans, John Grisham, and Nicholas Sparks. I like some of Ted Dekker’s books and also enjoy Robin Cook’s medical thrillers.
TR: Both Amy's and Debbie's lists prove my own point - there are just too many good authors, too many good books to name, so I change my mind about favorites frequently! With school, I'm spending most of my reading time in textbooks. My absolute favorite right now is the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Yes, I'm one of those people who love reading dictionaries and encyclopedias - I started that when I was a little girl!
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Baby Boomers Polly Nichols, Lindsay Wilson, and Gretchen Anderson may live worlds apart, but they have one common hobby – a penchant for board games.
Polly’s serene Kentucky campground turns sinister when the manager is a VICTIM of murder.
In New Zealand, Lindsay’s life is turned upside down when MIND GAMES and evidence drag her into a murder case - as a suspect.
At the Kettle’s On Campground in Georgia, Gretchen matches wits with a murderous wordsmith intent on winning the latest game of SENTENCED.
You’ll love the games, the characters, and the stories – and we promise, you won’t be BOARD TO DEATH!