I have the privilege of being on Cynthia Ruchti‘s street team for her latest book, As Waters Gone By. I genuinely enjoyed her book, and have found her writing to get better and better over time. (Not that it was ever bad, it just keeps improving if you ask me.) I think that’s important for a writer.
Cynthia is someone that was very helpful to me a couple years ago when I went to the ACFW conference. She is someone I’m very excited to introduce here at Working Writers.
Enjoy this interview.
I enjoyed your first book, They Almost Always Come Home and I feel that your writing has continued to grow with each new work. How do you personally challenge yourself to become the best writer you can? Are there specific tips you can share with other writers looking to stay fresh with their storytelling skills?
The more books I write, the more important this is. Some assume writing novels gets easier as time goes on, but in many ways the opposite is true, especially for those committed to telling unique stories that don’t sound like a repeat of the past book. As much as I might fall in love with one, I’m conscious of the need and wisdom of making each new book stronger, better, more compelling than the last.
We naturally grow as writers from the process of writing. But no matter how tight the deadlines, I never want to slap words on the page. It’s an honor and privilege to have a story published. My readers deserve the best I have to give…and more. So I challenge myself in several ways.
I don’t just settle. If I’m wrestling with a scene or plot problem, with a character’s name or motivation, I don’t settle for “That’s good enough.” If I focus, seek counsel from wise friends, tap into my editor’s experience, brainstorm with brainstorming geniuses, and pray like crazy, an answer will come that far surpasses “good enough.”
I keep reading and appreciating writing and other art forms. It’s amazing how inspired I feel after spending time in an art gallery or reading another author’s well-crafted book. The art itself stirs creativity.
I keep listening to people. Paying attention to people and their needs lays stories in our laps.
I keep learning. Long ago, I noticed highly skilled and nationally recognized authors taking notes during writers’ workshops or talking about the books they were reading on the craft of writing. Ah, that’s the secret! Never stop learning.
I keep trusting the Creator. The tasks I face in creating a fresh story that’s familiar, identifiable, and yet new are impossible. For me. But nothing is impossible with Him. So the closer I stay to Him, the more likely it is I’ll see the fulfillment of the impossible, whether that’s a deadline or a plotline.
All your nonfiction and fiction centers around hope. Did you do this consciously as you wrote or did it come about organically through the stories you wanted to tell?
Hope has long been a favorite topic. During the decades when I wrote for Christian radio, the intro for the broadcast said, “In the midst of all the clamor and confusion around us, there is One who offers Hope. He is peace in the midst of pressure, an anchor in the storms of grief, rescue for capsized relationships, and deliverance from despair. As you listen in these moments, you will learn of Him.” The outro included the words, “the Hope that can transform lives.”
Within the scope of hope lies so many other longings of the human heart–grace, forgiveness, peace, resilience, endurance…
I’ve encapsulated my focus on hope this way. Whether fiction or nonfiction, devotions or speaking events, I tell stories hemmed in hope. It’s my prayer that readers or retreat attendees will walk away confidently saying, “I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope.”
You created a street team for your latest book, As Waters Gone By. Do you have any advice for other writers on how to organize or motivate street team members?
Having a Street Team or Launch Team for As Waters Gone By was a new experience for me, and I was tutored well by my marketing manager, Cat Hoort, whose brilliance makes me slip on my sunglasses even when talking with her by phone! I love the sense of community created by the concept of a street team dedicated to and equipped to share ideas and help spread the word about a book. They can go where I can’t, reach people I can’t. And their enthusiasm and dedicated have blessed my neon pink sneakers off!
Is there a favorite line or passage from the book you’d like to share?
Many lines weave their fingers through my thoughts. This one may ring true with others:
Cora, a character whose husband was deployed, commented: “Funny how life does that to us. Drags us through something that turns into a story.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
Cherie, thank you for challenging me to think more deeply about some of these questions. I’m more aware every day that it is a gift to tell stories that reach off the page and into hearts. I pray I tend that privilege well.
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels and novellas, speaking for women’s events and retreats, writers’ events, nonfiction books, and devotionals, drawing from 33 years writing and producing an on-air radio broadcast. Her books have been recognized by RT Reviewers’ Choice, Selah Awards, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, CR’s BEST Awards, Carol Award honors, Family Fiction Readers’ Choice Award, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year honors and others. She has a total of 15 books on the shelves, with more contracted. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.