New Zealander Debbie Roome is no stranger to FaithWriters – or to being in the winners’ spotlight. Not only has she placed in the Page Turner in the past, she has also been a runner up for the Writing Challenge Best of the Best several years ago. Read on to learn more about her, her writing journey, and her entry, A Pile of Stones, that wowed the judges.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

DEBBIE ROOME: I landed in Christchurch Airport after a day in Auckland and switched on my phone while we were taxiing to the gate. I saw on Facebook that the Page Turner winners had been announced and was very surprised to see my name there. It was an exciting moment and I felt like standing up and announcing my good news to the whole plane-load of passengers!

JOANNE: I likely would have done just that! When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?Deb 1

DEBBIE: I’ve been writing since I was five. It’s a lifelong love and I always did well at creative writing and poetry at school. I wrote my “first book” in a spiral bound notebook at the age of 6.

JOANNE: Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else?

DEBBIE: It’s a hobby, a ministry and hopefully will be a full-time career one day.

JOANNE: Share a bit about A Pile of Stones. Where did you get the idea for it? What’s it about? How far along in it are you?

DEBBIE: A Pile of Stones is the true story of how God led me to build a pile of stones about 10 kilometers outside of a tiny New Zealand town called Omarama. It was a very specific word and I made a four hour drive to do it. I have been back several times since that day and God continues to add layers to the story. Through this pile, He has shown me the importance of remembering what He has done for us. Our memories are dull and limited in many ways and God wants us to create memorials. These come in many forms including photos, gardens, scrapbooks, artwork, and public monuments. I had the privilege of visiting the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbour last month and that impacted deeply on me. I hope to expand on ways to remember what God has done for us while weaving my own story through the pages of the book.

JOANNE: Sounds absolutely fascinating – and incredibly moving. You have had a lot of success here at FaithWriters. In addition to your Page Turner status this year, you were also a runner-up in 2010, and you came in second place in the Writing Challenge Best of the Best in 2007. You also have some books published. Do you have any writing advice for fellow FWers?

DEBBIE: Don’t give up. The more you write, the better you will become. Allow other writers to critique your work and don’t be offended by what they say. Editors can be your best friend in that they pick up weaknesses in your work and make it better than it was before. Enter competitions, submit your work wherever you can and ask God to teach you and expand your capacity on a daily basis.

JOANNE: Fabulous advice for all of us! How did you find FaithWriters and what made you stick around?

DEBBIE: I found Faithwriters in an internet search back in 2006 and was intrigued by the Weekly Writing Challenge. I started entering and continued to do so for several years. The Challenge was undoubtedly the most formative influence in my writing career and I doubt I would have written my first novel without it.

JOANNE: What kinds of books or genres to you prefer to read and/or write?

DEBBIE: I read a wide variety of books, more fiction than non-fiction. I have written three romance novels but am currently working on one that is more inspirational and family focused. My non-fiction books are about subjects that are close to my heart – the Christchurch earthquakes, cyber-bullying and flying. Loving Leanne tells the life story of my sister who was born with physical and mental disabilities. She passed away on the 1st January 2014 aged 47.

JOANNE: Sounds like you have diverse reading and writing interests. So sorry to hear of your loss – will be praying for you as the anniversary of her death approaches. Tell us more about your family, if you will.

DEBBIE: I have been married to Kevin for almost 29 years and we have five children – three sons and two daughters. The eldest two are married, but I’m still waiting for grandchildren! Kevin and I pastor Emmanuel Community Church in Christchurch as well as working during the week.

JOANNE: You sound like a busy lady. What are your other passions besides writing?

DEBBIE: I love flying and travel and anyone who’s friends with me on Facebook will know that. I do part time work that involves a lot of travel so that’s a real bonus for me. I also love spending time with my family, walking the dog and reading. I hate cooking and ironing!

JOANNE: Does ANYONE love ironing? LOL Where can people find you online?

DEBBIE: I have a website, a blog and am also on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

JOANNE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

DEBBIE: I almost didn’t enter the Page Turner competition. I’d had the idea in my mind for a couple of months but only sat down to write my entry 36 hours before the deadline. I was genuinely surprised when I heard it had made it into the top 15 and never thought it would place in the top three. I believe God has a purpose for the story and hope He will use it to inspire many others to remember what He has done for them.

 JOANNE: I can’t wait to see what He does with this story – and with you! Thanks so much for sharing with us, and, once more, congratulations!

The Page Turner for 2015 will open the first week of January, with a fiction focus. Keep your eyes open for details!

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