Cynthia Ruchti’s books were new to me when I started blogging, but oh my goodness was I missing out! The heart and the humor and the characters captivate me from word one – no matter which book I pick up. Yesterday on Straight Off the Page, my blogging cohort Melissa and I reviewed Cynthia’s latest novel, Song of Silence (which releases TODAY!!). I loved what Melissa said toward the end of her review:
I have learned not to start one of Cynthia’s novels until I’m ready to listen. She does a wonderful job of introducing scripture that’s therapeutic to not only the characters, but to the readers as well. Her books are very encouraging and wrap the reader in God’s warmth.
This is so very true. While I still have a large backlist of Cynthia’s novel to catch up on (due to my delinquency in discovering her), each one I have read has not only thoroughly delighted & entertained me on a story level but also pointed me unequivocally to Jesus, stepped on my toes a bit, soothed my soul, and ministered to my heart. And all with this lovely witty voice that makes the toe-stepping-on feel like a gift 🙂
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events/retreats and writers’ conferences/workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” Her books have received recognition from RT Reviewers’ Choice, PW Starred Review, Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, CLASSeminars Award of Excellence, Golden Scroll Awards, and more. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a board member of the Deliver Hope ministry, and is part of the worship team at her church. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.
Needless to say, I am so honored to be chatting with Cynthia today! Let’s start her off with the fast four!!
Cynthia: Oranges. But ever since Cuties/Halos came on the popular scene, it’s hard to imagine anything better. I’m an apple snob. My favorite apple is Cortland. They’re not in stores, orchards, or my house for long. Best apple ever. I’m pretty sure someone will disagree with that. 🙂
Carrie: We don’t judge apple choices here on the blog. Oranges, on the other hand…. 😉
Cynthia: M&Ms…and if I could be more specific? Peanut M&Ms. Think of all the fiber! (To my tastebuds, Skittles are too sweet AND too sour.)
Carrie: I don’t like peanuts as a rule, but I do love Peanut M&Ms. Must be that fiber.
Cynthia: Dog. One dog. One. I love my Granddog, Sadie. If my daughter and her family ever decided they had to move to a condo where they couldn’t have a dog, I would volunteer quicker than lightning. She’s a Cockashon (part Bishon, part Cocker Spaniel) and she loves me. That may explain the attraction.
Carrie: Ha! Yes, it might 🙂 As an only dog who doesn’t like sharing the spotlight, Zuzu gives your answer a hearty floofer-tail wag of approval!
Cynthia: Sprite. (Aren’t I a rebel?) And I only have about two soft drinks/sodas per year. Seriously.
Carrie: Will you be my soda mentor? I need to break the habit…
And now for some questions that (mostly) matter…
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Cynthia: You’re assuming I don’t? So many superpower choices seem insignificant compared to reading, don’t they? What if I had the superpower of being able to THINK of a dinner idea and ta-da! There it is! That might come in handy.
Carrie: oooo can I change my superpower? I’d like that one too. Or are we allowed more than one? Does anyone know the rules of superpower distribution?
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in such a situation, and what did you do?
Cynthia: It was so much of a blessing that it was hard to look at it as a “situation,” but it truly was. Early this year, I had a conflagration of writing deadlines from three different publishers that dovetailed so tightly and overlapped so completely that I was writing one book, editing another, promoting another, and doing research on another at the same time. Forgive me if I’m forgetting yet another layer. I’m learning, though, not to be discouraged by the word impossible, as long as I don’t try to face the challenge in my strength alone. Jesus made it clear when He said, “With man it’s impossible; but not with God.” Those I asked to pray for me heard me use the word impossible. Then they’d smile, committing to pray for me and expecting that God would answer as He always has—not adequately but magnificently. Which He did. Hard, hard work. But such a display of His grace and glory!
Carrie: I needed that reminder today, Cynthia!
When you aren’t writing another fabulous book for my favorites shelf, what do you enjoy doing?
Cynthia: I love spending time with my kids and grandkids—though it never seems enough. I have a few home decorating projects that have been waiting for the intersection of time and resources. I appreciate collecting ideas for those projects and love wandering architectural antique stores, although that too happens too infrequently. I think I’m a Joanna Gaines wannabe (from HGTV’s Fixer Upper).
Carrie: “the intersection of time and resources” – yes, I’m waiting on that in several areas of life too lol.
You tell stories “hemmed in Hope” (and oh, I so love that!). What do those words – “hemmed in Hope” – mean to you?
Cynthia: I don’t think anyone would argue that life is sometimes hard—soul-shredding, frightening, unnerving. Challenges test our endurance for a season or a lifetime. Disappointments are part of the fallout of living in this world. So much can and sometimes does threaten to unravel us. But we can’t unravel if we’re hemmed in hope. Our God is a God of abundant hope. No matter what we’re facing, we can count on His ability to take the raw, ragged edges of our lives, turn them under, stitch them with His grace, mercy, hope, and love, and keep us from completely unraveling.
Carrie: Ohhhh I think I need to frame that and/or plaster it everywhere in my viewing area for when the “hard” of life gets overwhelming. “…we can’t unravel if we’re hemmed in hope.”
How is your newest book Song of Silence hemmed in Hope?
Cynthia: Lucy in Song of Silence is upended by the news that her position as music educator in their small town is gone, eliminated in budget cuts. It was so much more than just a job to her. It was her life’s passion. No one, not even her husband, understands how deeply that was rooted in her. She has so much—an adoring, although a tad bit clueless, great kids making their way, a comfortable home—but feels as if she’s lost everything. Then—as in all good stories—it gets worse. Her song is silenced in even more dramatic ways. But through it all, brief flashes of hope keep her holding on, as happens to us when we’re distressed and catch a line of a song that reminds us of a comforting truth, or lean into an embrace after a difference of opinion. Hope is an undercurrent, popping to the surface in the story from time to time, then receding again until Lucy recognizes its presence. She communicated through sound. God often communicates through the absence of sound, through rests. Lucy will have to listen hard to hear it.
Carrie: This book really spoke to my soul. Trying to put into words how deeply it embedded itself into my heart is daunting, but I have attempted to do so. Stay tuned for my review to appear here on this blog later today.
What – or who – inspired Lucy’s story in Song of Silence, and what do you want readers to take away from it after they have turned the last page?
Cynthia: I was blessed with several influential music instructors over the years, including one from elementary school—Lucy Ramshaw. Lucy was a remarkable teacher who knew how to encourage even young students like we were at the time to feel the emotions of the music as well as sing the notes. Lucy has kept in touch with our family, continuing to bless us with her wit and wisdom and sweet spirit, even though we rarely get to see her. She made the effort to attend a book signing I did for another book. I was beginning to write Song of Silence at the time and asked if I could please use her name for the music educator in the book, and her husband’s name—Charlie—for the character’s husband. The book is inspired also by my father, whose passion for music education on the instrumental level kept him teaching music for almost forty years, a position from which he never wanted to retire.
My prayer is that no matter which character in the book readers most closely identify with, no matter which crises or loss or challenge, they’ll emerge with a clearer picture of how the rests on the musical score of life carry weight and significance. They’re not placeholders. We play the rests intentionally, precisely, in order for the music to truly sing.
Cynthia, I am so honored to have had the opportunity to talk with you. And maybe fangirling just a wee bit. And definitely grinning a lot. Thank you. Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Cynthia: I have a book releasing this fall from Worthy Publishing—another Christmas novel. It’s in the editing process now. And I’m grateful to be included in the daily devotional Mornings With Jesus 2017 from Guideposts, which will release this fall as well. I’m working right now on a book of encouragement for those whose parents are aging. And authors are always working on new proposals.
Thank you so much for your time and kindness.
Cynthia Ruchti has graciously agreed to give away a paperback copy of Song of Silence to one of my readers!
(US mailing addresses only please)
Don’t want to wait for the giveaway? Buy your own copy of Song of Silence now!