Ruby: Between the Cracks

Hey, guys, I have a special guest for you today – P.D. Workman, author of Ruby: Between the Cracks. We bumped into each other on Twitter, and when I looked into her books, I was fascinated. I like writing about young people in tough situations, too, so I really wanted to feature her and her book on my blog. Please give a big welcome to P.D. Workman!

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PD Workman - Ruby, Between the Cracks, 3DRuby is the first book in my Between the Cracks Series (two out so far, one more coming in the new year, and I just finished the first draft of the fourth and have started the fifth.) The series is about (surprise, surprise!) youth who have fallen through the cracks in the system.

A quick synopsis of Ruby:

If you asked Ruby, she’d tell you she’s happy with her life.  She’s tough and independent and doesn’t depend on anyone else.  The road that has led her here has not been easy, and she’s blocked a lot of it from her memory.

But things aren’t as rosy as she would have everyone believe, and the road ahead of her is filled not only with gangs, drugs, and depression, but other challenges that Ruby hasn’t even imagined.

Ruby was published early in 2014. Shortly after being published, it was nominated for the Best Books for Teens award by the In the Margins Book Award and Selection Committee, under the umbrella of Library Services for Youth in Custody. They strive to find the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody – or a cycle of all three – for librarians and library workers to share with the teens in urban, lockdown, homeless shelters and other non-traditional venues for teens living in the margins. In February of this year, Ruby landed a place on the In the Margins Top Ten Books for Teens.

I have been asked a number of times why I write about topics such as mental illness, addiction, abuse, homelessness, etc. It’s hard for me to explain why these issues speak to me so strongly.

I see so much hate or indifference for these most vulnerable in our society, and so little compassion or understanding. Children who ‘choose’ prostitution, addiction, and gang involvement are feared and vilified. They have no voice. We may hear a line or two of their stories in a news article here and there, but on the whole, their voices have been silenced.

So, it’s my goal to bring you entertaining and engrossing stories, and perhaps rip the heart out of your chest in the process. When you turn the last page, you’ll know the world that Ruby and her friends and siblings live in better than you did when you turned the first.


Get your copy!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Praise for Ruby, Between the Cracks:

—You know it’s a great book when you have to keep reminding yourself that the characters are not real people.  I really cared about Ruby, and she gave me some bad moments.  I desperately hoped her story would have a happy ending.

— ”Ruby” exposes the complex and brutal relationship between mental illness, poverty and abuse … a page turner I had to finish

— “Ruby” really put me through the wringer and I actually had to put it down a few times because I needed to return to reality … There was no chance I was going to stop reading until I knew how the story ended!


Here is a short excerpt from Ruby to grab your attention:

Ruby turned over again and cuddled closer to Mike. She was cold, almost shivering. They must have been having trouble with the building’s boiler. Mike didn’t seem to notice the temperature. Ruby tried to tuck her feet under his legs to warm them up, but he shifted and moved away in his sleep. Ruby curled up in a ball. 

There was a noise in the hall outside the apartment, and she strained her ears trying to hear what it was. There were voices, but it was late for anyone to be out. Ruby sat up. It sounded like the voices were right outside the apartment door. 

There was a crash. Ruby jumped, and so did Mike, beside her.

“What was that?” he hissed, sitting up and fumbling on the bedside table, knocking things off. There was a blinding light in Ruby’s eyes, she couldn’t open them. She covered her eyes with her hand.

“Get your hands up, Mikey!” a harsh voice screamed. 

Ruby tried to squint through her fingers to see what was going on. All that she could see was the light pointing at her eyes. She tried to shade her eyes from the light and turned aside to look at Mike. He was frozen, one hand on the nightstand, grasping for a gun that he must have knocked to the floor. He was as white as the sheet on the bed, his eyes wild.

“Mikey, Mikey… didn’t you hear me? I said get your hands up!” the voice screamed.

Mike slowly raised his hands. The light divided in two and one of the lights moved towards them. Mike started to lower his hands.

“Keep’em still,” the voice warned. He approached on Ruby’s side of the bed. Ruby cowered back, trying to avoid him. She could just barely see his outline, his shadow, behind the light. He reached towards her. Ruby tried to avoid his grasp. He wrapped his fingers around her long, blond hair and jerked her towards him.  Ruby winced in pain and couldn’t resist.

“This your girlfriend? She’s very cute.”

“Leave her alone,” Mike said shakily.

The hand in her hair jerked again, hard. Ruby choked back a cry. The light that the man was holding went out. Then there was a gun pressing against her temple. Ruby held her breath and tried not to blink her eyes, hoping that she wouldn’t cry. 

“How’d you like us to kill her, Mikey?” the voice taunted. “What do you think of that?”

Mike swore quietly.


Get your copy!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

PD Workman - Between the Cracks Collage

Getting to Know Lake Geneva

DSC03349 (640x480)As many of you know, production on the Mailboat suspense series was delayed because it turned into a series instead of a stand-alone. On the one hand, I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to release a book in 2015. But on the bright side, stretching out the production process meant I had the chance to squeeze in a second research trip to the story’s real-life setting, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Am I ever glad I did!

I had two goals for my 2015 trip. One was to photograph and/or video as many settings as possible – sometimes in step-by-step detail, as my characters walked through a scene. But perhaps even more importantly, I needed to map out something far less tangible. I needed to get to know the personality of Lake Geneva.

The photography was pretty straight-forward: Find locations and bring a camera. But getting intimate with the character of the community meant becoming more than just a tourist. I needed to get to know the people who lived there.

DSC02264 (480x640)I met Walter during my first research trip while standing in front of his house with a camera, waiting for the Mailboat to come by. We struck up a conversation, and a year later, he and his wife Margaret invited me into their charming getaway. They drew from generations of lake life to flesh out the history of Lake Geneva for me, beyond what I could pick up in texts on the subject. They also showed me how incredibly laid-back life here is … even if you do own a golf cart to get from your house to your pier.

Linda, who had contacted me by email to say how much she was looking forward to the release of the series, met me for coffee in Fontana. We toured the town and saw how much more peaceful and rural it was on the west end of the lake. And she really touched me when she gave me a coffee mug and a book to remember our visit. Coincidentally, it was the same book as the first one I’d ever checked out of a library for research on Lake Geneva. I was thrilled to have a copy for keeps!

Jamie the librarian patiently applied her years of knowledge of the town and surrounding areas to help me find actual locations that resembled settings I needed for the books. She later followed up with me at my blog and went so far as to send me a Thanksgiving card. Awww!

DSC03360 (640x480)I’ve easily spent the majority of my time in the area hanging around the employees of the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, which owns and operates the real-life Mailboat. I’ve never met a more steady-going, even-keeled group of people. Even the teenage summer employees are laid-back – all of which fits hand-in-glove with the strong German heritage of that part of Wisconsin. (Germans: nice, quiet, hard-working, never get excited about anything.)

I follow a number of Facebook pages that have their origin in Lake Geneva (At the Lake Magazine and Reel Life TV are favorites), and I’m frequently reminded by their posts of the strong sense of community there. Yes, the place gets overrun by tourists every weekend. That somehow hasn’t squashed the small-town, help-your-neighbor feel of the place. And from the number of “God bless you’s” I’ve received – without even sneezing – I’d guess most “Geneva-ites” have a strong faith tradition.

I also wanted to find out whether the people from the Geneva area had any speech mannerisms. Yes, they do. Despite the protests of several of my Wisconsin-born friends, there is, in fact, a Wis-caahn-sin ay-ccent. In that part of the state, at least. After just a few days at the lake, I began thinking all my thoughts in Wisconsinish – which I’ll admit drove me crazy.

Despite that, I’m so glad I had the chance to make two separate trips to Lake Geneva before releasing the first book in the series. The lake and the communities around it have captured my heart, and one of my chief hopes is to do the setting justice.

2016-01-18 Capturing the Personality of Lake Geneva