Cynthia Ruchti: Up Close and Personal

Interview by Kelly Klepfer

Tell us a bit about your current project.

The book that just released is A Fragile Hope. In some ways, one might say it was a risky project. How does a woman write an emotion-packed contemporary novel with a male protagonist, a marriage in trouble—his own—and his wife’s point of view is “heard” only in mere snippets…for the whole book? And how can hope weave its way onto the pages of a novel with betrayal center stage?
That was my task, in addition to making the reader root for Josiah despite his full-blown self-absorption in the beginning of the story. And make it realistic for the crisis without being tiresome. But I love how stories unfold in front of me, revealing their methods and secrets if I’m listening closely enough.

What one issue ignites your passion? Does your passion fuel your writing? What would you do with your life if you didn’t write?

For me, it all boils down to hope. I’m passionate about expressing hope through what I write and how I live. If I couldn’t dish out hope through books and speaking events, I would probably find another avenue through which I could distribute hope. Greeting cards. Whispering hope-filled words into the ears of newborns in the NICU as a volunteer baby-rocker. Life-coach. Some hope-infused occupation.

We are all about journeys…unique ones at that. How convoluted was your path to your first published book? Share some highlights or lowlights from your path to publication.

I’m speaking at a writers’ guild soon on the subject “The Path to Publication is Not a Straight Line. It’s a Labyrinth.” I love the word labyrinthine, and don’t get to use it very often. But most writers would probably say their path to publication had its dead-end moments, its twists and corners.

Even a year into college, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a florist, a nurse, or an archaeologist. So I became a lab assistant in a chemistry lab. Made perfect sense at the time. God handed me the assignment of writing a 15-minute radio broadcast, which I did for 33 years. I attended writers’ conferences to learn how to do what I was already doing. At one conference, the director challenged attendees to take one workshop out of their wheelhouse, something unexpected. I sat in on a fiction class with Karen Ball as instructor and the heaven’s opened and angels floated up and down a library ladder, singing the praises of fiction!

The next year, I handed a rough draft to an experienced novelist for critique. She suggested I join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), which at the time was American Christian Romance Writers.

Then nothing. Nothing. More nothing. Rejection (making progress). More rejections. Even more rejections. Then an encouraging rejection. And another.

At an ACFW conference, I had the worst appointment possible with a potential agent, and the best appointment possible with an editor who within a month had convinced her publishing board to take a chance on a debut novel from the woman with the unpronounceable last name: Ruchti (ROOK-tee).

My dream agent and first contract came as close to simultaneously as possible. Then another contract. I’m now working on book #21 since my first novel released in 2010. I write both fiction and nonfiction, and am dipping my toes into ghostwriting and a few other things as well.

Not at all a straight line.

What is your favorite source for finding story ideas?

Story ideas are like fireflies. They flit about in the air around us unnoticed until dusk descends and they begin to glow. I capture a few in a Mason jar and hold the jar close to my face so I can read by their light. Then I lift the lid and let them fly off to other backyards.

Stories are everywhere. Everyone has a story. Scenes take place in front of us no matter where we look. So my favorite source for finding story ideas is life. Listening to life. Observing the lives of those around me. And holding the jar close to my heart.

Have you ever had one of those awkward writer moments you’d like to share with us, the ones wherein you get “the look” from the normals? Example, you stand at a knife display at the sporting goods store and ask the clerk which would be the best to use to disembowel a six foot man…please do tell.

I considered changing my phone number right after I called the local police station to ask how much marijuana a person had to possess for it to be considered a felony.

What event/person has most changed you as a writer? How?
Readers change me. When readers dive into the story and come up gasping for air, but exhilarated from the experience, or walk the journey beside my characters and then tell me about their adventure, I’m changed. My readers make me a better writer. I picture myself personally placing the book in their hands, watching their faces—if I could—while they read, watching for a reaction the moment they see where hope has been hiding.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why? (Doesn’t have to be one of your books or even published.)

“Proud of” may not fit precisely for this, but I’ve enjoyed experimenting with several pieces of Spoken Word. It’s so out of the norm for me that I think I probably let the artist in me out to play. What emerges stirs me and deepens my faith.

Share a dream or something you’d love to accomplish through your writing career.

I’d like to write stories with international settings . . . and take the requisite research trips to those locales. Italy, for instance. France. England. Ireland. Scotland.

What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the hassles (besides coffee or other substances, or course)?

Industry awards are deeply rewarding, but running a close second is reading a review from a thoughtful reader or reviewer who saw things in my story I didn’t know were there until it was pointed out to me. I see it as proof that God directed my thoughts as I wrote. Ultimately, pleasing Him with what I write is the greatest writer buzz.

What is one of the more unique or strange life experiences that has really given you an extra oomph in your writing?

I was born to parents with strong work ethics (different fields—music and medicine) and who instilled in each of us a drive for excellence. They modeled it in their careers and taught that God deserves our very best, all the time, every day, no matter how we feel or how tight the deadline. That may not fit the “unique” definition, but I know that respect for doing this work “wholeheartedly, as unto the Lord” keeps me from slopping words on a page.

Parting words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the perfect answer?

Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on these questions. They’ve made me think hard, but have also deepened my gratitude for what I am privileged to do!

TWEETABLE



Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals. Her latest release is the novel A Fragile Hope. One of Ruchti’s greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has with the Write-to-Publish conference and American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin. Learn more at www.cynthiaruchti.com.
A Fragile Hope
Hope grows when seeds are planted—even in the muddy middle of life.

Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

Learn more and purchase a copy.

A Dog, A Monk and A Judge Walk Into a Book Store

Sorry. There is no punchline. But Ron has author wisdom to share involving all three of those elements. How could I resist?  

Meet Ron Marasco …
What things would you do differently…



I think I would have liked to begin my writing career with the understanding I now have about editors. Older writers sometimes have negative and cautionary things to say to young writers about editors. But it has been my experience that your relationship with you editor can be one of the truly rich experiences of your working life as a writer. The key is to approach it as a naturally collaborative relationship—as it is—as opposed to an adversarial relationship–which it only is if it gets off on the wrong foot!
When you “click” with an editor it can make for a deep, meaningful and sometimes life-changing connection. But you need to keep your ego out of the way. And you need to think of the book not as “yours” alone, but as a story or project that you want to bring to the world, that you want to someday belong as much to readers as it does to you.



What issues make you struggle…



When I am writing I get so swept up in what I am doing that the little details of life don’t get taken care of. E-mails go unanswered, chores ignored, health regimens foregone. It gets so that all you want to do is write.  At times like that it makes me understand why there were such things as Medieval monasteries—where people could just work and contemplate, utterly undisturbed by the ever-encroaching imperatives of the outside world. Medieval monks didn’t have to pay cable-bills or get their tires rotated! In the late stages of doing a book, every writer is an Medieval monk! (It’s one of the ways you know that you and the book are really cooking—that feeling of “Leave us alone!”)



What is your best writing advice?  



The first is from the novelist Elmore Leonard who said the key to writing is to “leave out the parts that readers skip.” My best advice to writers is to know that the story is not coming from you, but coming through you, from somewhere else. Thinking like this will way help you get put of the way of it. A truly organic story can’t be manipulated; it has to be allowed. It’s a “Let go, let God” kind of thing.



What would I do with my life if I didn’t write…



To degree, I’ve already done it. For years I was a professor who taught Theatre. And throughout all my years teaching I kept up my career as a professional actor. I’ve done dozens of TV shows. Most recently I have played the recurring role of a (quite irascible) judge: Judge Grove on the TV show Major Crimes. I must say, being a judge is pretty fun. The bench, the robe, the gavel!  You holler; people listen!  I have a bailiff, for heaven’s sake! Everyone should have a bailiff!  It’s a great role to play. Of course, in real life I’d be a lousy judge. Being an actor and a writer I tend to empathize and feel for all people, so I don’t know that I would be able to make a decision about anything, if I were a real judge. But the props and costume are pretty fun to play with!

TWEETABLES


A Dog, A Monk and A Judge Walk Into a Book Store (Click to Tweet)

Meet Ron Marasco (Click to Tweet)

Interview with Ron Marasco (Click to Tweet)



Book Blurb:



No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah.
He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.
Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.
On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.



Bio:



Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, “Notes to an Actor,” was named by the American Library Association an Outstanding Book of 2008. His second book, “About Grief,” has been translated into multiple languages, and he is currently completing a book on Shakespeare’s sonnets. He has acted extensively on TV—from “Lost” to “West Wing” to “Entourage” to originating the role of Mr. Casper on “Freaks and Geeks”—and appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie “Illusion,” for which he also wrote the screenplay. Most recently, he has played the recurring role of Judge Grove on “Major Crimes.” He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA.

What Love Requires, Y’all

By Michael Ehret

(Scene: Country radio studio where the host, Jimmy Guffey, is about to talk with New Yorker Patricia Talbot, sweetheart of bullriding star Talon Carlson, the hometown boy. Guffey has heard that Talbot has talked Carlson into giving up bullriding and, as a longtime fan, he wants to know why. See the contest offered after the post!)

Jimmy: This is Jimmy Guffey on KPLR, Praise the Lord for the Rodeo Radio, 104.3, on your FM dial. Today, on “Bustin’ Broncs for the Kingdom,” we’re talkin’ to Patricia Talbert, a New York hoity-toity social coordinator who’s fallen hard for our #1 rodeo hero, Talon Carlson, from right here in Stephenville, Texas.

Jimmy says this is a photo of Talon as a
young cowboy.
There’s no proof of that claim.

Talon, as y’all know, loves nothing more than bullridin’ and the rodeo, save perhaps The Man Upstairs, so when this longtime fan of his heard he was givin’ up bullridin’, well, I just knew there had to be more to this story and, as one of Talon’s biggest fans, I’m itchin’ to find out the truth.

So, Patty, what’s the scoop? Fill us in, if you can. I understand a gal name of Linda Yezak—she ain’t country, now, is she? Not with a name like Yezak. Anyway, I understand this Linda has told your and Talon’s story. So tell us what you told her. How’d you convince our Talon to leave the circuit?

Patricia: Well now Jimmy, Linda may not have been raised in the country, but she’s always been country at heart. Her husband, on the other hand, was raised on a farm in central Texas. You want country? His family didn’t have electricity until he was six. Now that’s country!

You really want to know how I made Talon promise not to ride? Well, I decided to show him what it’s like to watch someone he loved get thrown. I rode Mostro—the wildest steer on the Circle Bar Ranch.

Talon taught me how to ride bulls. Even though they were fairly tame, he made me ride them without a flank strap, which, as you know Jimmy, tends to make the ride more dangerous. I wanted the strap when I rode Mostro, but I didn’t know what I was in for. It made him so mean and wild, he threw me into the next pen.

After watching me get tossed, Talon didn’t think twice about making the promise. Of course, it helped that he was recovering from a concussion and a broken arm he’d received when Burnt Biscuit threw him into the ER not days before. Linda told about that event in Give the Lady a Ride.

Jimmy, there’s a Bible verse comes to mind. It’s 1 Corinthians 13:7 about all the things love does—and not all of them are easy! In fact, they can all be difficult when you think about it. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I’ve been reading up on that lately, and when I think about it in connection to Talon and me, it gives me pause.

Jimmy: I’m glad you brought that up. As I understand it, you’re learning to put boots on that verse and walk it around the ranch, so to speak. Tell us about that. For instance, “Love bears all things.” What kinds of things are you willing to bear for love?

Patricia: I know what I can’t bear—to see Talon hurt again. But it seems Aunt Adele is pushing him to get back on a bull, just so she can see him ride. She’s my aunt and I love her, but Talon and I both have to bear with her attempts to take me back to Manhattan.

The verse says, “Love bears all things.” Love isn’t restricted to any particular type. It can be the kind of love Talon and I share, or the kind I feel for the ranch, my friends, and my family—even Aunt Adele. Right now, bearing with her is stretching my patience!

Jimmy: The next part of that there verse says that “love believes all things.” I dare say that could cause some problems. Let’s just say Talon has been known to stretch a truth a time or two—he ain’t perfect. So Patty, er, Patricia, beg yer pardon, why do you think you can believe him when he says he’s never going to ride another bull?

Patricia: Ha! You know him well. His practical jokes and tall tales are legendary. I still remember the one he pulled on me when we checked for estrus cows. Almost had me convinced that the only way to know they were in heat was to approach them with a thermometer . . . well, that’s another story.

For all his pranks, though, I believe in him. He’s not at all like the men I knew in New York—or DC either, for that matter. We’ve been together about a year now, and everything I see of him smacks of integrity. He’s the preacher at our Cowboy Church, and he’s highly respected around here. Not to mention how patient he has been with Aunt Adele. That alone just amazes me. I can’t imagine him breaking a promise to me or anyone else.

Besides, he had to do all his ranch work one-handed while he waited for his arm to heal. I’m certain he wouldn’t want to risk that again.

Jimmy: Hope is what keeps many a cowboy in the game, as you know. Hope that next time he’ll make the eight or win that buckle. “Love hopes all things.” What does that mean to your life?

Patricia: My hopes are centered around making a life here at the ranch. It’s totally different from New York, but I believe God wants me here. Aunt Adele thinks she can lure me back, but I love it here too much, love the people too much. I love Talon, and he belongs here, which means I do too.

I have hope that God will convince Adele—and my mother, who no doubt put her up to making my life crazy—that I am where I belong and with whom I belong.

But I also hope that the scars from my past will heal, and that this time, with this man, things will be different.

With God, all things are possible, and He is the source of my hope now.

Jimmy: Now I know you don’t want to give away too much, Patricia, and ruin things for Linda and her readers, but endurance—that there’s another great cowboy trait. I’ve seen Talon endure some pretty tough times, on the bull and off. But what does that mean to you? What are you willing to endure for your own sake? For Talon’s sake? For the Lord’s sake?

Patricia: That’s a great question, Jimmy. Honestly, at this moment, I don’t know for certain what God has in store for me here. So far, all I’ve had to endure is the insufferable Texas heat—and Consuela’s cooking lessons and a lot of ribbing from the men for being such a greenhorn.

But since I returned to my Savior last year, I’ve spent every day studying His word, learning who He is, and lamenting what I’ve missed all these years separated from Him. Whatever He sends my way, whatever I’ll have to endure in the future, I know it will be much easier than what I’ve endured in the past. Because this time, I’ll have Him to guide me through it.

Jimmy: Well, that’s about it for us folks here KPLR, Praise the Lord for the Rodeo Radio. Today we’ve been talking with Ms. Patricia Talbert about love and what it does—and what it requires. Look for the complete story of Patricia and Talon in the books by Miz Yezak, Give The Lady a Ride and the just released The Final Ride, available now in fine stories everywhere and online.

Y’all enter this contest!

Before you go folks, I am feeling led to announce a contest! That’s right, a chance for y’all to win both of these fine books by that Yezak filly.

No, I ain’t gonna make it easy on ya’—what’s the fun of that? But just answer this question below and you’re entered!  

Question: When have you had to put 1 Corinthians 13:7 into action in your life? Creativity and giggles count, so give it your best shot.

Here’s the skinny on that Yezak woman:

More than 25 years ago, after a decade of life as a “single-again,” author Linda W. Yezak rediscovered God’s love and forgiveness when He allowed her a second chance at marital happiness. She is now living her greatest romance with her husband in a forest in East Texas. After such an amazing blessing, she chooses to trumpet God’s gift of second chances in the books she writes. Linda’s novels are heart-warming hallmarks of love, forgiveness, and new beginnings.

Connect with her at: Facebook Fan Page, Pinterest, Amazon Page, Goodreads, Newsletter, at 777 Peppermint Place, and on Twitter at @LindaYezak. 

____________________________________


Michael Ehret has accepted God’s invitation and is a freelance editor at WritingOnTheFineLine.com. In addition, he’s worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal at American Christian
Fiction Writers. He pays the bills as a
marketing communications writer and sharpened his writing and editing skills as a reporter for
The Indianapolis
News and The Indianapolis Star.

Lunatic Cons Publisher

posted by Michelle Griep
Author JOSEPH COURTEMANCHE
What do Santa and Novel Rocket have in common? Author Joe Courtemanche, of course. So, how does a professional Santa who’s ex-military break into the publishing field? Read on . . .
Publishing your first novel is exciting. It’s also a ton of work. It means that you, the author, are on the hook for social media, reviews, distribution of bon mots of great wisdom, and making sure that you catch all the typos in the final addition. If you’re really engaged, it also means recording your audio book and having it ready in the short time between the galleys and the book coming off the press and out to the public.
There are joys. I went to the printer and picked up the first 550 books myself. It was a great road trip with my old friend. We laughed, marveled at the printer’s setup, and white-knuckled it back through a blizzard. But I actually saw where the book was born.
I also got to autograph my very first book for a fan. It is a huge thing emotionally. You are part of that book forever. Some fan, some customer (it is a business) has now spent their hard-earned money and thinks enough of your writing to ask you to inscribe yet another bon mot inside the cover.
I got to read my first review from someone who had never met me. Peter Younghusband said nice things about my book. And then arranged an award for me for Redemptive Fiction.  Floored? Yes. Amazed. Blessed. Thankful.
If you’re worth a hoot as an author, you’ve spent time reading other new author’s books and encouraging them. Some of them were fantastic books. I reviewed all of them that deserved four or five star reviews. I ignored others – mainly because the genre was so alien to me that I couldn’t offer an opinion of any merit.
Along the way, I collected a list of people who said they’d promote my book when the time came. Now, on the day of launch, most of them are going to post reviews on their Facebook pages as well as the big sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I haven’t asked them to be nice, nor have I suggested what they write. Only that they write. I’m rather breathless to see what they put out there.

Is it a good book? I think so. I knew I was on the right track when someone actually wrote me a fan letter. I knew I’d found my calling.
Available on AMAZON
ABOUT THE BOOK:
When terrorists assault Saint Agnes Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, they expect to find a congregation of lambs: they get Bobby Kurtz instead. An unrepentant Cold Warrior, Kurtz destroys the terror cell with violent finality. Against his will, Kurtz is pulled back into the life he left behind decades before. He reluctantly picks up the burden of hunting the terrorists in our midst. He risks his life, and his marriage, in a single-minded pursuit of victory over evil. Working with a shadowy government agency, Kurtz uses all of his skills and experience to foil a plan that would plunge the Twin Cities back into the Stone Age. The final battle rages across the plains during a Christmas Eve blizzard in a story that will leave the reader pleading for more of Kurtz and his team of experts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joseph Courtemanche is a former Police Officer and Middle East/North Africa analyst. He is a distinguished veteran of the Naval Security Group of the United States Navy, and an Arabic linguist with training at the University of Minnesota and the Defense Language Institute (Honors Graduate).

Joseph’s debut novel, Assault on Saint Agnes, won the American Christian Fiction Writers 2015 Genesis award for best novel in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category. He has been published in Splickety magazine as well.

As a performer, he’s appeared on television in a variety of commercials, and does voice over work for both radio and television. He delights in doing his own audio books. His greatest joy is working as a professional Santa for the last fifteen years, appearing in a number of television spots as the Jolly Old Elf.
He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife and dog. Both of whom tolerate him fairly well.