Everyone’s Story welcomes Cynthia Ruchti. Cynthia is known to many as a beloved author of the novel THEY ALMOST ALWAYS COME HOME, past president of the American Christian Fiction Writers and presently serves as its Professional Relations Liaison, but did you know she’s also a radio show producer, a magazine editor, and a mentor to other writers? What I appreciate the most of Cynthia is her genuine warmth and smile—I will always remember Cynthia taking the time to return my hello at one of the ACFW conferences.
A Few Questions For Cynthia:
Book Giveaway Special:
Cynthia is offering both one copy of her devotional HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT... DECAF IS NOT, plus one copy of her upcoming release of CEDAR CREEK SEASONS to one commenter. Please leave your email in the body of your comment for convenience. Thanks!
A Few Questions For Cynthia:
If I remember correctly, at the 2010 ACFW Conference I heard that before the conference attendees began to arrive that you walked up and down the halls of the hotel and prayed for God’s blessings on the conference and for each of the attendees. I was quite touched by that. Did you receive any blessings during that particular conference that you’d like to share?
I’m sure there are others in ACFW leadership who have done the same, but it was Robin Miller, ACFW’s conference director, who first mentioned the practice to me. After all the details, all the planning, all the scorched midnight oil preparing for a conference of the magnitude and importance of ACFW’s, it seems the perfect prelude to walk the halls, walk through all the rooms, and pray for what will happen in each of those rooms, invoking the Lord’s blessing on even the air we breathe, every conversation, every thought. Prayer has always been an undergirding foundation for ACFW…and for my life. Officially “inviting” the Lord to take over, to reign in every corner, always sets my heart in the right place and lays the groundwork for amazing things to happen. And they always do!
And at the conclusion of the conference, when I served as president, I would seek out the prayer room, which was usually empty at that time, get on my creaky knees, lay my hand on the open Bible in the room, and sing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
On your website you state that you prefer to think of your lifestyle as “active” rather than busy. As an author, a radio show producer (congratulations for accomplishing 33 years of this ministry!), a magazine editor, a mentor to other writers, and last but not least, a wife, mom, and a grandmother, do you ever have moments of juggling-stress? How do you manage to pull it all together?
A better question is, “Do I ever have moments FREE from juggling-stress?” Sure! A few. J My home is an empty nest, but it’s amazing how many distractions and stress-producers still hover. I’m learning to crave quiet, though. I try to find some time every day when I shut off the noise so I can hear God “speak” to my heart. Even music, which is a strong faith-connector for me, can sometimes mask what He really wants me to understand. I take advantage of the fact that we live in a quiet country home. But I’m also constantly intentional about what I’m adding and what I’m removing, what I allow to fill my days and what I boot out. I weigh the value of what I allow to consume my time. As active as I am, I’m walking a more balanced path with fewer outside involvements beyond what God’s called me to do and my family needs me to do. When I’m at my best, I lay a blank sheet of paper before the Lord (in a virtual way) and ask HIM to write my to-do list rather than than scribbling down a million things and asking Him to bless those tasks, many of which don’t fit at all with His plan for my day.
I loved your novel THEY ALMOST ALWAYS COME HOME. It’s a beautiful, moving story that touches the heart, especially for anyone in a marriage/relationship. Did you have to “go” deep into your writer’s zone for the story? Also, because of the novel’s more mainstream type of feel, was it a bit more difficult to sell to a publisher?
Thank you for your kind words about THEY ALMOST ALWAYS COME HOME. Yes, I did dive deep into that one…but I find it imperative for any novel I write. I knew that to authentically express the kinds of emotions Libby experienced, I’d have to allow myself to relive a few things, imagine others, and draw on all the empathy the Lord built into me.
About ten years before the book released, my own husband almost didn’t come home from a disastrous canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness. Two days into his trip, he grew deathly ill with no way to get to help or for him to communicate with the outside world. His rescue came just an hour, the doctors said, before he would have breathed his last.
I revisited some of the gut-twisting trauma of that personal experience when writing Libby’s unique story. It’s been an incredible blessing to hear how the story has had an impact on people, on their relationships, on their approach to grief and disappointment.
I’m grateful that Abingdon Press was open to the idea of a story that didn’t shy away from real and raw concerns with pitch lines like these: She’d leave her husband…if she could find him. He was supposed to be fishing. He was supposed to come home. And she was supposed to care.
A few months ago, a mainstream national magazine spotlighted the book. The women who picked up that magazine and were drawn to order the book have joined other readers who are perpetually in my heart and thoughts.
Life + Imagination + Inspiration + Experiences = A Novel
by Cynthia Ruchti
Elaine, thanks for setting such a lovely “table” and inviting so many fascinating friends of ours to this virtual gathering! And thanks for the invitation to take a few moments to share something from my heart.
For 33 years of writing scripts for a fifteen-minute daily radio drama/devotional broadcast called The Heartbeat of the Home, one of the most frequent questions listeners asked was, “Where do you get all your ideas?”
Now that I’m writing novels, devotional books, and inspirational non-fiction, I’m often asked, “Where do you get all your ideas?”
The short answer is, “Life.”
|The view from Cynthia's|
front porch, which stirs
her muse and soul
Using a few more words, I might answer, “Life plus imagination.”
A Twitter-length response might be, “Life plus imagination plus inspiration equals a novel.” In fact, pardon me for a moment while I go Tweet that!
Maybe a quote worth stenciling or cross-stitching (used to do that before writing deadlines) would read: “Life plus imagination plus inspiration plus what you’ve been through equals a novel.”
My mom experienced multiple traumas and dramas related to her heart disease. She had countless heart attacks, every heart procedure known to man, and a few that resembled things seen only in science fiction movies…like the one where the surgeon went in under her arm, opened the ribs, then bore tunnels through her heart muscle with a laser beam to try to create artificial blood flow to dying areas. It didn’t work.
|Cynthia's gaze often strays|
away from the kitchen sink
as she does dishes--do you
She was especially traumatized when she woke from one procedure to find the skin on her chest bruised and burned. They’d had to “shock” her heart six times to bring her back to life when it stopped beating. “Why didn’t they let me go? Why didn't…they…let…me…go?” Hot tears accompanied her grief.
An especially compassionate nurse stood at the hospital bedside and listened as Mom listed every heart episode, every reason for her pain, every surgery and procedure, poke and prod.
Rather than responding with, “How awful for you!” the nurse said, “Oh, Dorothy! The things you’ve come through!”
That line changed Mom’s perspective.
She no longer took inventory of how horrible it had been, but of how many things she’d survived. Rather than dragged down by the anchor of what had been done to her, she was buoyed by the growing raft of circumstances on which she floated.
I wrote a radio script about it. The script became a newspaper article. The family sent a copy to the nurse whose gentle, profound statement changed Mom’s perspective. The nurse wrote that she received the copy and our thank you note on a day when she had her pen raised to sign her resignation from nursing. The story let her know she was making a difference. She’s still nursing today.
The concept became a devotion that will appear next month on The Christian Pulse. It’s working its way into the fabric of a novel that will release in 2014.
And it’s part of the answer to the question, “So, where do you get your ideas?”
Life. Imagination. Inspiration. And what I’ve come through…by God’s grace.
All those factors weave their way into the stories I write. My husband’s near-death experience in the Canadian wilderness helped inspire my debut novel—They Almost Always Come Home http://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/they-almost-always-come-home . Vacations with my daughter added realism to “The Heart’s Harbor” in A Door County Christmas (no longer available in paperback, but still accessible in digital form) http://www.amazon.com/Door-County-Christmas-Wisconsins-Romancing/dp/1602609683 . Life showed up in the devotions I wrote for His Grace is Sufficient…Decaf is Not http://www.amazon.com/His-Grace-Sufficient-Decaf-ebook/dp/B0078X1222/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2 . Imagination colored between the lines in “Maybe Us” in the upcoming September release, Cedar Creek Seasons http://www.christianbook.com/cedar-creek-seasons-wisconsin/becky-melby/9781616266455/pd/266455 . What I’ve been through appears more than once in two key projects releasing in 2013—a non-fiction book titled Ragged Hope—Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices (Abingdon Press Christian Living) and When the Morning Glory Blooms, a full-length novel from Abingdon Press Fiction.
I’d be honored if readers and prospective readers would join the conversation about how something they’ve come through has become encouragement for others, whether in print or face-to-face. I’d be doubly honored if you’d join me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cynthia-Ruchti-Reader-Page/111854048844444 , Twitter https://twitter.com/cynthiaruchti , or through my website: www.cynthiaruchti.com.
Thanks again for hosting this discussion, Elaine, and for giving me an opportunity to share why and how I write stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark!
Author Bio:Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who writes stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark. She teaches at writers' conferences and women's retreats. Currently, she serves as professional relations liaison for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) after serving as president for two years. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin.