Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature: Cynthia Ruchti-All My Belongings

Today I welcome author: 
Cynthia Ruchti

Enter to win Cynthia's book
All My Belongings

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

I met Cynthia at the Write to Publish Conference. Although a member of the faculty/staff, Cynthia's warm and friendly spirit encouraged conferees to chat with her. She never rushed away but always found a time to laugh or talk with us. When I saw her again this year, she invited me to her table. Sure enough we were laughing in seconds. I asked Cynthia, "How has God led you on your writing journey?" This is what she replied:

God took Me on The Scenic Route

When I was younger, I naively thought that the verse “straight and narrow is the way”—referring to the simple, well-defined, narrow-bordered way to peace with God—meant that the career and service path God sets us on is like that, too.

But almost without exception, He carves an individualized, “scenic” route that defines what He wants us to do with our lives. Those twists and turns, hairpin curves, cliff-hugging one-lane steep climbs always afford the best views.

I was born into a home that highly valued education, medicine, faith, and family. What a rich heritage that had nothing to do with money! My mom was a dedicated nurse. My father taught junior high band and other music programs within the school system. I came out of that environment with a passion for music, a deep appreciation for lifelong learning, budding faith, and an interest in the sciences. I also emerged with a strong desire to establish a home and raise a family where the mom was more accessible, because my mother’s tough work schedule had her working the night shift—and extra shifts—for most of my childhood, sleeping during the day, and exhausted much of the time.

After high school, I spent a year at Moody Bible Institute to help solidify my faith and get even more grounded in God’s Word and how it applied to daily life. Then I enrolled in a one-year program to become a laboratory assistant. Engaged to be married the month after I graduated from the program, my path seemed fairly straight to me. Get married. Work a while. Children two and five years after the wedding. Dream home and picket fence. Ta-da!

It’s an old adage, but a good one: If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.

We’ve been married 42 years this summer and I’ve yet to see the dream home or picket fence. Our children were born after three, six, and fifteen years of marriage. I worked for seven years while my husband went to college and endured a period of joblessness. Eventually, I retired from the chemistry lab to care for our little ones and can or freeze everything we could grow in the garden or harvest from the ditches along the road.

When my middle child was two-years-old, God made a major course correction that only He had seen coming. I’d taken some creative writing classes by correspondence just for fun. Two weeks after completing the last assignment, a speaker from half a country away crossed my path. She’d been given 15 minutes of free airtime on a new radio station in North Carolina and wanted to produce a program of spiritual encouragement for stay-at-home moms. I volunteered to do research for her…and to pray for HER endeavor.

But at the end of the conversation, she handed me a business card with the address of the station and said, “Send the first program here.”


I had no experience, no training, no equipment, no knowledge, and frankly, no interest in writing a radio broadcast. I’d always said I’d rather sing three songs into a microphone than have to say my own name into one.

But I’d recently had one of the moments when I told the Lord I’d go wherever He wanted me to go and do whatever He wanted me to do. I didn’t hear it aloud, but sensed He was asking me, “Did you really mean that?”

I wrote and produced that radio broadcast—The Heartbeat of the Home—for 33 years, storytelling fictional scenes from everyday life for the first portion of the daily program followed by nonfiction devotional thoughts related to the topic of the day.

For 33 years! All along the way, challenges and life circumstances and hardship and a plethora of family crises would make me question, “Lord, is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” Each time, I was reminded that I hadn’t chosen the radio work. I hadn’t pursued it. God brought it across my path. He carved it into my life. The answer was always, “Carry on” or “Press on.”

When I began to wonder if I could write longer fiction—a whole book, perhaps—I joined ACFW, which at the time was called ACRW, and began to study the craft. I attended writers conferences and kept that legacy of an insatiable appetite for learning. But after six years of learning and growing added onto the decades of experience with the radio, I still had no book contract.

So God and I had a little conversation about it in September of 2008. “If this isn’t what you want me to do, just say so, God! I’ll lay it down and walk away.”
Apparently, that’s what He wanted to hear. Within two months, I had an agent and a contract for my debut novel—They Almost Always Come Home, a Carol Award finalist.

Since then, I’ve seen seven other books published (fiction and nonfiction) with more contracted. In 2013, two books released—a novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms, and a nonfiction, Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices. This past month, both books took top honors with Selah Awards from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Before writing When the Morning Glory Blooms, I’d proposed six or seven snippets of ideas to my editor at the time—Barbara Scott. She pointed to When the Morning Glory Blooms and said, “That’s the one you should write next.” I well remember the conversation with her when I said, “Are you sure?” It was one I was least interested in writing. But it changed me as I wrote it. Reader mail shows it’s changing others, too. And when the Selah Award for that book was announced, I saw once more that God had tugged me onto another unexpected side road that led to exactly where I needed to be.

I have no doubt He’ll continue to do so. Now, I eagerly await those tugs, knowing the view will be spectacular.

I’m celebrating the release of my third full-length novel from Abingdon Press—All My Belongings—watching Him use the story in ways I couldn’t imagine. The year 2015 will see the release of another novel I didn’t expect to write—As Waters Gone By.

An old hymn says, “All the way my Savior leads me/What have I to ask beside?” I can trace that pattern through a long and winding road that has marked my life and know with confidence that trusting Him to lead guarantees the road will be twisty and filled with adventure, but deeply satisfying.

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. Her books have won or been finalists in RT Reviewers’ Choice, Retailers’ Choice, Family Fiction Readers’ Choice, Lime Award Top Ten Fiction, Carol Award, Selah Awards, and others. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

To learn more about Cynthia click on these sites:

A new identity can’t protect Becca from a past that refuses to go away.

Where do you turn when changing your name doesn’t give you the anonymity you want? When running hundreds of miles away isn’t far enough? When your search for a place to belong lands you right back where you began?

Becca finds her way to an understanding of the beauty in the ugliness of dying, the tenderness in forgiveness, and –at last—discover that where she belongs isn’t as much about her family history as it is about her faith in the One to whom she’ll always belong.

To enter the contest for  
Cynthia Ruchti's book: "All My Belongings":
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Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Cynthia, for Joining us This Weekend!

Thank you so much, Mary, for this invitation. It's been a joy getting to know you. Would love to hear from your blog followers about other questions they might have, or comments about any of my books they've read or plan to read. Keep your feet to the path!

5 comments: said...

What a great time with Cynthia. I learned things about her I didn't know and I love how you drew her out, Mary. She seems to be a lovely, warmly sincere woman of faith.
I've wanted to get her books, just haven't had time or funds. . .Would LOVE to win a book by her.
This is easily one of my favorite blogs. . .Looking forward to being here often. Thanks for the break from my work, Mary. Hugs, said...

AND. . .my email addy is.....jlmelwrite@(at)gmail.(dot)com

Sorry - couldn't remember to do that? Must get back to writing and critiquing. Again, thank you.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hey, Joy. Good to see you.
Yeah, Cynthia is a real sweet person and a sincere woman of faith. I saw her in action at the WTP conference. The piano was locked shut and she had to lead music along with Michelle Reyburn. The two brainstormed and chose to go with an Amish sing theme. Totally creative, awesome, and fun.

You are always welcome, Joy. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Ah, the sign of a busy person.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Thanks for stopping by, Joy! And thank you, Mary. This has been a blessing.