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Smithsburg woman's novel published

2nd in the works

February 04, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Fledgling novelist Jenniffer Ringquist has turned her love of reading with a penchant for writing in a new career.

Her first novel, "Dark of Mind," was published in December. Ringquist is trying to set up book signings and appearances at area bookstores in the spring so she can attract a following with literary tastes similar to hers.

"I've always loved the works of Patricia Cornwell - mystery and suspense, but I don't like gore," Ringquist said from her Smithsburg home where she is at work on her second novel.

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The first novel follows the heroine, Sophie, from the time she is 16 and becomes enveloped in a mystery in the family mansion. What happens to the teen-ager one night in that house brings on a six-year amnesia and leaves Sophia with a dilemma.

"The question is whether Sophia is a murderer or a victim," Ringquist said. "Her parents were murdered that night, but what was Sophia's role?"

That's as much of a clue as Ringquist will give. She is not one to give away the ending of any mystery novel, let alone her own.

"I like the books where you have to think," Ringquist said. "You get engrossed in the people and their travels."

Feedback from people who have read the book are often questions about what the female heroine is doing now, which tells Ringquist the character has come alive for them.

Now 32, Ringquist came to Smithsburg with her family at the age of 14. Her father's career in the U.S. Army moved the family around a lot until they settled near Fort Ritchie.

Two brothers live in the area, as do her parents. Two other siblings are in California and Missouri. Brother John Ringquist also writes, using his experiences in Iraq as his subject matter.

"John has done a lot of traveling and speaks a number of languages, including Cambodian," Ringquist said.

Ringquist said she wrote some short stories while a student at Smithsburg High School. Her 10th-grade teacher was particularly supportive and helped her polish her writing skills.

Still, Ringquist said she dropped out of high school before graduating. She earned her GED by the time she was 17 and began working as a secretary. Later, she changed careers and became a professional nanny.

But she kept coming back to her love of writing.

Once she had penned "Dark of Mind," Ringquist began the daunting task of trying to find a publisher.

She turned to Internet-based publisher 1st Books and, after months of negotiations, the deal went through and "Dark of Mind" became a reality.

Ringquist is working on her second novel, "The Scar of a Dream," which she describes as another mystery but totally different from her first book. She is hoping for an October publication.

"In the second novel, the central figure is a woman artist who wakes up from a nightmare with her head pounding," Ringquist said.

Flashes of the nightmare keep coming back to her, making her wonder if it really was a nightmare.

Ringquist said the supernatural undertones are stronger in the second novel but only at the end of the story.

In both her books, excitement builds as the story progresses. Ringquist uses all kinds of recognized literary twists and turns to keep the reader interested, even borrowing from Ian Fleming in the first novel.

"There is a secret elevator in 'Dark of Mind.' If James Bond can do it, why can't I?" Ringquist quipped.

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