A short read-along break to encourage you


The first chapter of Afraid of the Light. I’m grateful for the privilege to read it to you.

Click here and please feel free to share the link with your friends.

If you haven’t read the book, I hope you’ll have the opportunity soon and join the conversation. If you are a book club member or coordinator and would like an online visit during your discussion of Afraid of the Light, let me know. I have special treats for book clubs.

Hemmed in Hope,


Resources for Caregivers during November’s National Caregiving Month

Hachette/Ellie Claire is spotlighting As My Parents Age as one of many resources for caregivers during November’s National Caregiving Month.

If you are or know a caregiver, please let them know about these resources. Research shows that at least 85% of us will either serve as a caregiver or need caregiving during our lifetime. It’s a subject that touches us all.

Take time to peruse the caregiver gift guide here. Share it with a professional, volunteer, or family caregiver.

You might also want to download this Caregiver Prayer Journal prepared especially for you from prompts included in As My Parents Age. You can access the journal here. Feel free to invite others to visit this website so they too can download the prayer journal.



My Favorite Christmassy Things Giveaway–12 Authors

CW - My Favorite Christmassy Things (7) (1)

CW - My Favorite Christmassy Things (7) (2)

I’m excited to participate with these other amazing authors in a Favorite Christmassy Things giveaway.

I get to talk about My Favorite Christmas Tree.

It was be easier to describe my least favorite tree. I think my siblings would agree with me that the year our parents decided to purchase a white aluminum tree and the rotating color wheel to turn the ghastly thing into alternating red, green, and blue shiny aluminum fake branches, we all groaned.

Or maybe it was the tree a few years ago that lost all its needles–all of them–before Christmas. Poor, pathetic, not-even-fit-for-Charlie-Brown tree.

Or the year I jokingly put one lone ornament on a wooden tree because after a series of family disasters, it seemed to express the energy level I had for Christmas decorating.



My husband and I have had tiny little Christmas trees sitting up high to keep them away from inquisitive toddlers and massive trees that scraped the ceiling and blocked everyone’s view of the holiday football games.

We volunteered one of the pine trees growing on our property to friends from church who owned an A-frame house. They hung the tree upside down, with the narrow “top” brushing the carpet and its trunk high in the vaulted ceiling. A conversation piece.

For many years, we grew our own Christmas trees on our few acres. Planted, waited, waited some more, until finally they were tall enough to serve the honored role. We tromp through the snow and cut our own tree, which usually also meant working hard to hide the bare spots when decorating. Homegrown, hand-cut, and free.

Ours, but not one of the trees mentioned in this story!

Ours, but not one of the trees mentioned in this story!

Once I purchased dozens of tiny stuffed bears dressed like angels with which to decorate the tree. After a few years of enjoying that kid-friendly look, my college-age daughter and I removed the angel outfits from the bears and hand-knit tiny little wool scarves and sweaters for the bears.

But possibly my favorite tree is the one that started out rather ordinary. Mid-celebration on Christmas day, my husband asked me to leave the family room and not come back in until he called for me. When I returned, the entire tree was bursting with deep red roses. He’d placed them among the branches so their beautiful blossoms looked like layered silk ornaments.

This from a man who normally considers roses a ridiculous waste of money.

That year, part of his gift to me was extravagance. And it left an unforgettable impression.

Walking into the family room to discover a tree covered in extravagance reminded me that all of Christmas is a celebration of the extravagant love of God to send His Son to us.

What was your favorite Christmas tree? Tell me your story in a short comment below to be entered in an ADDITIONAL giveaway–from my heart to yours. It’s a sweet little Christmas ornament that will remind readers about the story Miles from Where We Started.


Don’t forget to comment with your Favorite Christmas Tree story.

Be sure to visit each stop on this My Favorite Christmassy Things journey so you don’t miss the fabulous daily giveaways!

Dec 10: Catherine West – Welcome to My Favorite Christmassy Things

Dec 10: Cynthia Ruchti – My Favorite Christmas Tree

Dec 11:  Tamara Leigh – My Favorite Christmas Carol

Dec 12: Lauren K. Denton – My Favorite Christmas Disaster

Dec 13: Ronie Kendig – My Favorite Christmas Movie

Dec 14: Jody Hedlund – My Favorite Christmas Food

Dec 15: Elizabeth Byler Younts – My Favorite Christmas Ornament

Dec 16: Beth K. Vogt – My Favorite Christmas Decoration

Dec 17: Rachel Linden – My Favorite Christmas Service

Dec 18: Courtney Walsh – My Favorite Christmas Memory

Dec 19: Rachel Hauck – My Favorite Christmas Book

Dec 20: Susan Meissner – My Favorite Christmas Vacation

Dec 21: Catherine J. West – My Favorite Christmas Gift

Enter by midnight on 12/21/18 USA Eastern time! Winners will be drawn on 12/22/18 and posted on Catherine West’s site.

Drawing open to US addresses ONLY, with apologies to our international readers.

Major Prizes:

1st: All 12 Print Novels
2nd: $50 Amazon gift card and $20 Starbucks Gift Card
3rd: $50 Amazon gift card


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Leave a comment.

Hope Became Tangible at Christmas

We’re such a “Show Me” culture.

SHOW me you love me.

SHOW me you understand what I’m going through.

SHOW me you’re sorry for what you did.

SHOW me I can trust you.

SHOW me you care. Do something!

Missouri (The Show Me State) doesn’t have a corner on the “I need to see it” market. Even those who choose to live by faith are prone to wander off into wondering.

We humans have always had trouble with intangibles in our relationships.


It’s been the same in our relationship with God. We listen to His Words, hear His stories, understand His truths. But the arrival of Jesus on the scene was, in a way, God’s response to a world that cries out, “SHOW me!” God’s divine plan all along, even before Eve and Adam gave us a reason to need a redeemer, was Jesus.

nativity-447767_1920The world had waited so long for a redeemer. Until Christ was born, hope was a promise, but an intangible.

Hope was born in a tangible way at Christmas.

Jesus’s birth proved once again that God keeps His promises—all of His promises. Hope soars when we grasp that concept.

As you walk through this Christmas season, may it be with a renewed understanding that Jesus Christ is proof of God’s love for you. And may you embrace that truth with your whole being.


If you’re looking for a Christmas gift to SHOW your love or appreciation to some in your circle, this may help. For the next five days, a special promotion offers a discount on top of a discount.

25roadtrip (1)

Offer ends on Dec 11, 2018.

LOVE NOTES for Your Aging Parents

As my publisher expressed it:

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words. This is especially true when you’re serving as a caregiver for your parents, when the ones who have cared for you now need your care in return. During National Family Caregivers Month, Cynthia Ruchti wants to help you express what’s on your heart. Download her FREE Love Notes to My Parents printable at http://www.lovenotestomyparents.com.

love notes

love notes expression

love notes better

A total of TWENTY love notes you can tuck onto your parent’s supper tray, on the nightstand, in an envelope, or put between the pages of their Bible or favorite book.

My prayer is that these simple words will bless you as you use them to bless someone you love.


Looking for something to read?

A friend asked me to consolidate the honors given to the books I’ve written. Others often ask her for ideas of books worth reading. Maybe these images will become an answer you can give friends and family who want to know what to read next.

Have a great week interacting with those you love. And take a little time for reading, and for introducing others to the wonder of reading!

Song of Silence

A Fragile Hope

As Waters Gone By

All My Belongings

When the Morning Glory Blooms

They Almost Always Come Home

An Endless Christmas

Ragged Hope

Tattered and Mended

Interview for ACFW’s FictionFinder

Interview with Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti
Writing a novel like A Fragile Hope takes a lifetime. First, you must collect memories, observations, and bits of overheard conversation. Next, mix in a “hefty investment of time training for Extreme Imagination Sports,” as Cynthia calls it.

To the impassioned observer, her fans and this interviewer, Cynthia Ruchti can’t get books out fast enough. At any given time, she’s brewing up two, three, sometimes four projects within a single year. But A Fragile Hope was a little different than her other stories. A Fragile Hope “aged, not as long as 100-year soy sauce, but about as long as balsamic vinegar.” The first few chapters simmered in a “file folder vat” for eight years, waiting for her to “discover the specific ingredients that would allow it to mature.” She adds, “I’m glad it wasn’t published when I first got the notion. The author had to mature, too.”

And mature she is, a writer of award winning fiction, nonfiction, and now a literary agent.

What does it take for a writer of Cynthia’s caliber to mature, especially when she’s so young? Do her “Qía Ancient Grains hot cereal with fresh blueberries and/or nectarine” breakfasts add to her maturity? Possibly. Or maybe, when she grows up, all she wants to be is taller.

Perhaps we can find her maturity by looking into her past.

Cynthia, as a youth, was called into the principal’s office twice. Stunning, I know. But she wasn’t a party animal. Instead, she was academically competitive. “Not against other students,” she explains. “Except for the one guy vying for my spot as valedictorian,” she was “always striving for excellence from herself.” Starting in grade school, her father was a band teacher and pastor, while her mother worked nights as a nurse. “As the oldest of five children, I planned and made meals, kept the house clean, watched over my siblings, and yet still found time to fall in love with the boy who would one day be my husband.” He was a year older, so during “my senior year in high school, the highlight of my day was checking the mailbox to see if he’d written me from college.” She must have been a hoot as a pen pal back then, especially with papers like “The Psycho-Social Aspects of Leprosy in the United States Today.”

Some aspects of her nurturing personality come naturally, which is ideal for agent work. “I would probably rank high on the ‘Identify with Other People’s Pain’ spectrum.” But she won’t take credit for her natural gifts. “God uses a big ladle to poor out what we’ll need in order to do what he’s asked us to do.” The journey came with a close devotion to God during her childhood, and deepened in her teens. In her twenties, her relationship to the Creator experienced another growth spurt. With the consistent drive toward God, “I pray people would observe in my life ‘a long obedience in the same direction,’ (one of the phrases the German philosopher, Nietzsche, got right).” Nietzsche goes on to say, “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”

Cynthia follows the theme and turns it into actions, showing that maturity doesn’t only come naturally. First, thirty-three years in a radio ministry, then president of ACFW for two years, an author, and now an agent. But when it comes to writing what you know, both in mind or heart, she is a lifelong student, expanding her knowledge base by “venturing bravely into new territory.” She learned her craft from the dialogue passed through microphones on the radio, and prose from instructors at writing conferences and ACFW connections, all the while trimming unnecessary words.

Her fiction displays contemporary scenarios where faith is lived out in real life, “hemmed-in-hope. My prayer,” her heart cries, “is that readers would finish a book I’ve written with greater courage to say, ‘I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope.’”

“My characters are the woman halfway across the country who writes to let me know she has her own Charlie (Song of Silence), or that she is the grown daughter whose parents never did figure out how to bond with her (All My Belongings), or that he’s ‘Max’ and doesn’t know if his marriage will survive his incarceration (As Waters Gone By) but now has hope. The people who inspire my characters are the unknowns who connect with me after reading They Almost Always Come Home or When the Morning Glory Blooms to say, ‘That’s my life. How did you know?’ It’s the person who stops me at the grocery store to say, ‘I’m the one who lost the directions to the on-ramp in my marriage’ (Josiah in A Fragile Hope).”

She writes her nonfiction in response to her characters. “Here, honey. Read this.”

God is continually surprising her. Additional takeaways that God imbedded in her stories are one instance that delights her. “Sometimes the reader who gets the most out of my story is me. It’s not uncommon for me to stop editing to let Him have access to a place in my heart I didn’t know wasn’t yet fully His.”

Without doubt, her closeness to God is her bedrock for her maturity. Her faith is also built on a heritage from a godly mother. “I watched my mother’s faith get more solid footing when she was in her mid-sixties and began to read Christian fiction. In the remaining almost twenty years of her life, I steadily grew in my appreciation for the power of story as I watched its influence on my mom. She prayed that first novel into existence. Two weeks before she died, my first Advanced Reader Copy arrived in the mail. She kept it on her bedside table until Jesus took her hand and freed her spirit from the body that was beyond worn out.”

“How could I not want to tell stories with the potential to heal, encourage, embolden, mend, strengthen, challenge, and comfort?”

Ronald Knox once said, “There is to be no standing still in our pursuit of maturity.” Cynthia Rutchi is a fantastic example to follow, and, given time, your gaze will turn away from her and point toward Christ, since she is a beautiful reflection of His holiness.


Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com.

You can see the interview in its entirety and learn more about Christian fiction at FictionFinder


Who do you know who is caring for aging parents?

Since As My Parents Age released, I’ve found myself face-to-face with so many people who read the title of the book, run their hand over its inviting cover, and say, “That’s me. That’s what I need. We’re in the thick of it right now.”1 As My Parents Age high res

Or they start ticking off the list of friends or coworkers whose lives have been dramatically affected by the needs of aging parents.

The other sentence I hear often is, “I need to buy a copy of this book for each of my children. They’ll need it as I age.”

If you haven’t been to your local bookstore or taken a look at As My Parents Age and the encouragement it offers, please let me know when you do.

And share a line or a page number of something that blessed you. I’ll be waiting. And praying.


A Fragile Hope GIVEAWAY ends soon!

A Fragile Hope

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enter to win a free copy of A Fragile Hope and a metal Scripture wall hanging:

Metal Wall Hanging

Click here for all the details. Giveaway ends May 3!

Feel free to invite your friends to enter, too.

The 12 Authors of Christmas Giveaway


What a thrill to have Restoring Christmas included in this 12-Author giveaway this week. The giveaway ends promptly at midnight on Friday night, so don’t postpone getting your entry or entries in (more details about that on the giveaway link).

I appreciate each of these authors so much and respect their work. You won’t be disappointed, even if you’re not one of the winners, as long as you look for their books at your local bookstore or online. :)

You can enter here. Have fun dreaming about these twelve titles as the giveaway nears its end. And don’t forget to consider one (or ALL) of them in your Christmas giving this year!

HUGE #giveaway Dec 5-9: Win books by @Katherine_Reay @cynthiaruchti @Melissa_Tagg @KaraIsaac http://bit.ly/2fxDbEH #restoringchristmas

Click to Tweet

Enter the 12 Authors of Christmas #Giveaway Dec 5-9! Win a #chrisfic book bundle and a #Visa cash card. http://bit.ly/2fxDbEH

Tweet: Enter the 12 Authors of Christmas #Giveaway Dec 5-9! Win a #chrisfic book bundle and a #Visa cash card. http://bit.ly/2fxDbEH

Have a great Christmas…and spend part of your holiday reading!


NOTE: Commenting here doesn’t qualify as an entry. Please click on this link and enter there.