I’ll be signing a variety of my books at Christos Bookcenter. Hope you’ll come…and bring a friend!
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
Thanks to a friend of mine, I have a copy of John Albert Thomas’ Christmas CD of solo piano music to giveaway in addition to an autographed copy of AN ENDLESS CHRISTMAS (hardcover novella), plus a sweet little HOPE Christmas ornament. Great present for a friend or inspiration for your own Christmas celebrations. See details below in the Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter.
Feel free to share this link with your circle of influence.
While you’re here, if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter (usually mailed quarterly) or my HopeNotes blog, look for those sign up areas on this or the home page. My HopeNotes blog posts occasional downloadable encouragement or shareable images to keep your life hemmed in hope!
Have a blessed Christmas,
This is the TIME IS RUNNING OUT TO REGISTER message from More To Life today:
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift? Would you like to personally experience a life-changing trip? The More to Life Women’s Cruise sets sail April 9-14, 2016. Starting at just $479, this once in a lifetime cruise features today’s best and brightest speakers including Carol Kent, Kathi Lipp and Cynthia Ruchti as well as worship leader Meredith Andrews.
ME (CYNTHIA RUCHTI)
To learn more about the More to Life Women’s Cruise, Visit www.eo.travel/mtl
Hurry! Space is very limited!
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY! It would be great to see you there.
I hope you’ll agree that receiving another post from me so soon is a good thing when you look into this fabulous virtual tour of Madeline Island–the setting for the novel As Waters Gone By–and the giveaway connected to it.
What a fun way to get to know the setting better, and discover some of what made Emmalyn in the story believe it was the perfect place for her to mend. Maybe you will, too. Click on the image below to reach the starting point, then click the RSVP button you’ll find there.
Only one week left to enter!
I’d love to hear what you think of the Apostle Islands area after getting a glimpse through this virtual tour.
It’s release day! After living in my heart for so long, the book Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Wounded Soul is now released to the public!
As part of the celebration, Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity have created a wonderful giveaway. Each item speaks to the heart of the book–reclaiming something beautiful from the broken and shattered. The aquamarine bracelet is made from broken guitar strings. The deep blue bracelet is made from broken china recreated. There’s more.
Reviewers often comment about the value of the hope-giving perspective. One reviewer said: “TATTERED AND MENDED needs to be in every church library, counselor’s library, public library, pastor’s office, and Christian home, so the words can reach out to hurting people and help them start to mend.”
Do you have your copy already? If so, what was your favorite quote from the book?