How do I “highlight” this month’s author? Her scope of impact in the writing and publishing world is so great, I didn’t know where to begin.
We met through American Christian Fiction Writers’ (ACFW) online critique groups. The ACFW “powers-to-be-amazing” cobbled a group of writers from the Midwest and East Coast. None of us knew each other, but two of those writers I still consider dear friends. One of those friends is Cynthia Ruchti, our featured author.
Cynthia’s official bio:
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories Hemmed-in-Hope through novels, nonfiction, devotionals, and through speaking events for women and writers. Her more than 37 books have been recognized by retailer, reviewer, and reader awards as well as other industry honors, including the Carol Awards and two Christy award finalist honors.
Her tagline shows up in everything she writes: I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope. Cynthia is also the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin.
That’s just an appetizer for us, my friends. Let’s really dig in and get to know Cynthia.
How has Christian fiction impacted you personally?
Some know the story that not only did Christian fiction help solidify the everyday working out of my faith, but it was instrumental in bringing my mother back to an active, vibrant faith in Christ. She had made a commitment to Christ in her early 20s, but for years, I think she leaned heavily on a general atmosphere of faith in our home and on my dad’s deep faith.
When Dad passed away way too young—at 64—Mom turned to reading Christian fiction to fill in the empty hours. And it was through Christian fiction that she truly began to blossom in her faith.
The last twenty years of her life were spent devoted to prayer and giving and Bible study and generosity on a level that was far above what we kids had seen evidenced before. A good church, yes. But we watched Christian fiction reattach her to the heart of God.
Oh, Cynthia! What a beautiful testimony to the power of story. The Holy Spirit spoke to your dear mother through the words of Christian fiction.
How has being published been a fulfillment of your dreams?
I don’t want that answer to be misunderstood. It’s pure joy every single time a new book releases, and I’ve experienced that wonder 37 times so far! It’s never taken lightly. Always a holy moment. But being published a) was never on my list of childhood dreams. I thought it was too lofty a goal for me, and b) my dreams were or at least grew into having an impact—using the gifts God gave me for His purposes, whenever and however, as long as I have breath.
At times, that’s been writing a devotion for a baby shower, or helping another author, or creating stories for my grandkids. Other times, it meant telling stories over the radio—for thirty-three years.
Now, He’s given me the privilege of creating stories for novels and nonfiction that will sometimes reach many and sometimes a handful.
Being published is a gift I don’t take for granted, ever. But the true dream fulfillment is walking in obedience to what God asks of me today, then tomorrow, then the next day.
And that’s why Cynthia speaks fluent inspirational fiction and nonfiction.
Do you have any unusual research habits for your books?
I do try to keep things as believable as possible.
I once wrote about an infected sliver. And yes, when I got a sliver from a wooden picnic table, I left it there for a few days so I could watch the progression of redness and swelling, feel the pain and how that simple small sliver got in the way of so many things. I used the information when I wrote an analogy about what happens when we don’t take care of small relationship issue before they fester.
Most times, the research isn’t that painful, but I do try to walk through the scenes I’m writing. How long does it take to cross the college campus if I’m being chased? Would the internal thoughts I just wrote be possible in that time frame? Would they be reasonable, or would I focus only on my destination and breathing?
Can you actually hold a twelve-year-old in your lap as if he’s an infant? Yes, if you’re grieving.
So it may not be unusual, but I do try to act out the scenes to catch the nuances of steam rising from hot tea or how different that is if the window’s open.
I imagine myself hearing the words the character just heard. What would be my involuntary reactions? Some readers report that they feel as if they’re in the scene with my characters, or that the author was looking over their shoulder in their life and concerns. That’s a deep compliment for me, and a sign that I got the details right.
I’m still cringing over the splinter scenario. Clearly that is dedication to the craft of writing. I remember reading somewhere that “Nothing bad ever happens to a writer. It’s simply material for their next book.”
Which of your characters has really stretched you as a writer?
All of them have. Every one. Mara in Facing the Dawn was one of the biggest stretches. Although I can identify with her snarking sense of humor in the beginning, and I have borne my share of grief and loss over the years, her journey was unique…and it needed to be. Her compounded losses sent her into a darker place than I’ve known.
Her snarkiness had to mellow slowly over the course of the story. Her grief couldn’t just resolve itself overnight—none does. But the story also had to reveal an ever-present hope somehow. Quite the challenge, but as many readers have said, so like life.
As someone who speaks snark, I identified with Mara. Snark is whit combined with pain — and for those who understand the “language”– humor. You write snark well.
Who is your most favorite character—protagonist or antagonist?
One of my favorite characters is Ashlee from Facing the Dawn. She is the friend everyone wants to have. She’s broken and facing her own shadows, but has such a compassionate nature and such a beautiful way of expressing it.
Even my 15-year-old grandson who read the book said, “Everyone needs an Ashlee.”
Wait. You convinced your 15-year-old grandson to read a women’s contemporary novel?! Forget Ashlee, your grandson is my favorite character! Actually, Ashlee was an inspiration. Her compassion did convict me to step outside my own needs to see others’ hurts.
What is the story behind Facing the Dawn?
The marketing description for a book can only go so far, and that’s purposeful. But the more I’ve heard from readers, and the more I’ve thought about the book after its release, I’m seeing layers and connections I wasn’t even aware of consciously while writing the book.
The way friendship can affect our grieving process rose to the surface. And that can look like something different in every situation. The way grief is unceasing yet ebbs and flows from manageable to unmanageable to completely out of control showed itself on the pages. The healing properties embedded in art and music made their presence known.
As I said, Mara experienced grief upon grief. One blow after another. Before the pandemic, many readers might have thought it wasn’t possible to have that many things go wrong in such a short time, causing upheaval on multiple fronts. But then we saw that it could and did.
Facing the Dawn was written long before the pandemic, but its story of both letting the grief breathe and digging until we find the hope resonated in a way I didn’t expect it to.
How true! A perfect example of the omniscient point-of-view saying, “Little did she know.” Truly you didn’t know, but our Heavenly Father did. Now, the effects of your story have broadened in ways you never anticipated.
What is one of your favorite quotes from Facing the Dawn and why do you love it?
“It was time for the sacred to win out over the scared.”
Those same letters can either form the word scared or sacred. And it doesn’t always mean changing fear into not being afraid, but letting God create something meaningful and utterly sacred out of the moments that have us shaking in our boots or clinging to the hem of Jesus’s robe or clutching our Bible to our chest.
What seems frightening to us always holds the potential of being reformed into the exquisite and awe-inspiring.
I love that. Without paying attention, we can see only the scared. I had to read the sentence several times to see the difference. Being in God’s moment helps us see. And as you said, those moments “… hold the potential of being reformed into the exquisite and awe-inspiring.” Deep.
What do you hope readers know about you and your books?
I could have chosen to write books that merely filled shelves. I intentionally chose instead to write what would fill the soul, help heal the heart, infuse courage. Of course, I want every book I write to be a good story, a page-turner, satisfying, and even have moments of laugh-out-loud joy.
But I believe God asked me to write about tough topics tenderly. It’s a heavy assignment. He makes me feel all the feels so I can write about them authentically. But it’s also immensely rewarding when a reader says, “You put into words what I felt but couldn’t express.”
Truly beautiful, Cynthia.
My friends, if you’ve never read a book by Cynthia Ruchti, here’s your opportunity to enter to win not only a signed copy but some amazing “trinkets” that will bless you. [Find out what those real treasures are in the video interview.]
The November’s Author Highlight Giveaway!
To enter, post a comment below about the interview. On Friday, November 12th, Tweetie will randomly select one winner!
And if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll subscribe to my monthly newsletter below — I have two special surprises for you. And, you’ll have another entry into the giveaway!
ONE Winner! Remember the drawing takes place on Friday, November 12th!
NOTE: WANT TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING THIS INCREDIBLE GIVEAWAY?
Check out my YouTube Author Highlight interview with Cynthia. Because, in the video interview she will answer different questions, and you don’t want to miss one very exciting little known fact about Cynthia. By Liking and Commenting on the video episode, you will have one more entry. Sharing the video, another entry. Subscribe, and you have TWO entries for a chance to win.
Remember the deadline is November 11th!
That means, my friends, if you comment and subscribe -– or are already a subscriber -– to my blog, then watch the video and LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT, then Subscribe to my YouTube Channel, your name will be entered SIX TIMES!
Be sure to tell your friends! See you there!
Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed getting to know my friend Cynthia and her amazing books. Next month’s Author Highlight is award-winning author, Natalie Waters!
God Bless and Keep Reading!