Friday, September 2, 2011

Cynthia Ruchti Interview and Free Book

Congrats to SUSAN, winner of an autographed copy of THEY ALMOST ALWAYS COME HOME.

NOTE: I was planning to post Devotional Writing Part 2 today, but then I had the opportunity to interview author Cynthia Ruchti who is joining us today. I will post Part 2 next week.

I am giving away an autographed copy of Cynthia's book, They Almost Always Come Home, which is nominated for ACFW's 2011 Carol Award for Women's Fiction. Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing, which will run from Friday, September 2 thru Saturday, September 10. The winner of the book will have seven days to respond after I contact them or I will draw again.

I would like to welcome Cynthia Ruchti to my blog today. I have come to know Cynthia from serving with her on the staff of the Write-to-Publish Conference. She has also served as president of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) for the 2009-2010 term and now serves as ACFW’s Professional Relations Liaison.
Her debut novel, They Almost Always Come Home, released in spring 2010 from Abingdon Press and has been nominated for a 2011 Carol Award for Women’s Fiction. Her novella–”The Heart’s Harbor”–released September 1, 2010 in the novella collection, A Door County Christmas from Barbour Publishing.
She and three other authors have a devotional book releasing in November from Summerside Press called His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not. She is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

I know the biggest news right now, Cynthia, is the Carol Award nomination, which will be awarded September 24 in St. Louis at the AFCW Conference. Congratulations! How do you feel?
I feel deeply honored, especially because the Carol Award is one I so highly respect in the Christian fiction industry. It's an exceptional blessing to be listed among authors I've long admired.

What do you know now, as a published novelist, that you wish you had known before? 
I'd had hints of this before, from keeping my ear to the ACFW loop and other writers' counsel, but it's all the more real to me now that publication is not a destination. It is the beginning of a journey, one that challenges the author to be all the more vigilant, all the more creative, all the more dedicated. Publication is the beginning of the hard work, not its end.

In They Almost Always Come Home, a husband doesn’t return from a trip when expected. Give some background on how you came up with the idea for this book.
 My own husband nearly died in the Canadian wilderness in 1999. At the time, he had no way to get word out to the authorities or to me to let someone know that he was deathly ill. We're grateful that rescue reached him in time to save his life (with only about an hour to spare, the doctors told us). But the emotions connected to that time in our lives sparked my writer curiosity. What if the husband didn't come home? And what if a wife character wasn't sure she wanted him to? What would make them disconnected and desperate? And what would it cost the wife to find out? That led to the fictional story of Libby and Greg and Libby's journey to discover what happened to her marriage, her faith, and her hope.

How would you encourage writers who have received only rejection letters?
I remain empathetic about writers who receive rejection letters or emails because I still do. I believe all authors still receive rejection letters. But in response to your wording about receiving "only" rejection letters, I want to say, "Bravo! You're getting your work out there. You're being persistent. You're brushing yourself off and trying again. That sets you apart among other writers who keep their stories to themselves or who stop trying." I dislike the word "rejection," but know it's standard practice. Rejection is like dandelions in a yard in spring. The rarity is if there isn't one. And then all the neighbors clamor to know, "What did you use?" Receiving a rejection is a horrible feeling. But the savvy writer is the one who only allows it to sting a little while, like ripping off a band aid, then immediately looks for someplace else where the book might find a home or looks for areas of weakness that need shoring up.

How do you keep the creative well fresh, and in tune spiritually, with all the deadlines and busyness of the writing life?
God gifted me with hyperactive powers of observation, so the ideas exceed the time to write them down. Spiritually, the Lord often gives me reminders--some of them painful--that I need Him far more than I need a few minutes to write. But the remarkable thing is that He really does make time stand still when I take time to be with Him, time to read His Word, time to reflect. I haven't always valued that reflecting time as much as I do now, but I know it is key to writing well and staying sane and grace-filled in the process!

You are the past-president of the American Christian Fiction Writers. How does ACFW benefit those looking to publish in the Christian fiction market?
 I can't say enough about the importance of a writing community and educational provision like ACFW. It has been instrumental in my own career in the training in the craft of writing fiction, in priceless friendships, in writing partners and critique partners, online classes, networking... ACFW continues to teach me how to write and what to do with what I've written. Too many writers write in isolation, without the benefits of ACFW, so they stab in the dark in their stories and in their efforts to get them published. ACFW helps writers see what they're aiming for, and aim well!

You have collaborated with three other authors to write A Door County Christmas, A Four-In-One-Collection (Barbour) and are in the process of writing another one with the same group of writers. Describe the benefits of collaboration.
Writing a novella collection with other authors, especially these other authors--Rachael Phillips, Eileen Key, and Becky Melby--has brought laughter and joy and also challenged us to write distinctively without tripping over each other's words or turns of phrases. We love researching together, taking in the sights and sounds and smells and tastes of the area we're writing about. We have fun and enjoy one another. But by far the greatest benefit is the way we hone each other. We critique each other's work as we go along and find ourselves growing as we work together. 

The publishing industry has changed in the past decade, with authors now having to do most of their own marketing of their books. What advice do you have for unpublished writers on how to prepare them, beyond writing a great book, and being involved in social networking?
Others have said it before me, but I believe it is a freeing concept to consider what you do well and do it very well. Few authors can excel at all areas of marketing. If I find what works best for me and do it with excellence, I need to be content with that, rather than beating myself up for all the marketing ideas I haven't found time to try, or the ones that have worked for others but aren't a good fit for me. One practical tip is to look for all the hidden gems of human interest links to your story and capitalizing on them. Is there an animal shelter in the story? Connect with animal shelters. Partner with them for a fund-raising event or have a book signing at the shelter. Then think larger. Would you story be of interest to a national organization of animal shelters?

Anything else you would like to share?
It's been a joy to chat with you a bit, Tammie. You've always been a blessing. I'm looking forward to connecting with your blog followers. We can carry that conversation further, too, if they want to stop by my website:, or look me up on Facebook or Twitter. Whether fiction or non-fiction, I write stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark.
Thanks, Cynthia, it is always a pleasure.


  1. I'd also like to congratulate Cynthia on the Carol Award nomination! It's well deserved. I think I would really enjoy reading her book "They Almost Always Come Home."

  2. Thank you so much for the chance to win this. This looks like an amazing book. I would love to win this. Thanks again.


  3. Sounds like an interesting read. Great interview. Thanks for the giveaway.

    sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

  4. Thanks for the encouragement re receiving rejections. Congrats on your nomination. Must be lovely to know that people appreciate your writing.


    spooler at comcast dot net

  5. Love Cynthia's positive attitude and the book sounds good, too.

  6. Another lovely interview, Tammie! Thanks for sharing our Cynthia--always a blast to talk and listen to. I think of her story often.

  7. Thank you, everyone, for stopping by! You've been a delight to my heart. Thanks for you kind words and excitement about the book. And thanks again, Tammie, for the privilege of "meeting" those who follow your blog!

  8. Thanks, everyone for stopping by this holiday weekend, including our featured author, Cynthia.

  9. Way to go, Cynthia! I agree that the Carol Award is indeed something to be proud to even be nominated for. You are in great company :)

    I'd be honored to read your book if I should win it (and would review it on my blog too.) Keep writing!

  10. Thanks for the chance to win Cynthia's book!



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