Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Door County Christmas: Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia with her doll when she was just a kid

 Here's what you may know about Cynthia Ruchti:

Cynthia Ruchti is the current president of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), which she’s served in various volunteer capacities since shortly after she became a member in 2002. In her role as president of ACFW, Cynthia writes a monthly “From the President” column for ACFW’s Afictionado ezine. For two years she was one of four humor columnists for Afictionado’s“Let There Be Lite.” In 2007, she was the recipient of the ACFW Member Service Award. In 2008, Cynthia won second place for Women’s Fiction in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Contest.

Now, I'm going to give you a peek at the child who would become Cynthia Ruchti. She is a loving and kind woman who those of us in ACFW are proud to call our president, and whose book, They Almost Always Come Home, was one of my favorite books this year. Now she has a story in the book, A Door County Christmas, and is part of our blog fun this week. Come learn about Cynthia when she was just a kid:

Childhood Ambition: Waitress, flight attendant, nurse (Mom's occupation), teacher (Dad's occupation), biologist, florist, Spanish teacher, orphanage director, interior decorator, the same profession as whatever book I was currently reading. I don't recall longing to be an author. I think I considered it too fond a dream to be possible.

How did life turn out? Waitress--I've served HOW many meals over the years? Flight attendant--Love to fly and usually find someone to help up the aisle. :) Nurse--Dole out plenty of bandaids to my grandkids. Teacher--Radio teacher and teaching writer workshops. Biologist--Worked in a chemistry lab and my daughter graduated with a degree in Biology. Does that count? Florist--I can arrange dandelions and Indian paintbrush in lovely bone china vases. Spanish teacher--No comprende. But my sister, her daughter, and her daughter-in-law teach Spanish. Orphanage director--Birthed three babies and mentally adopt every hurting child. Interior decorator--Most of my furniture started out as something else.

The unspoken desire of my heart--to write novels. Contented sigh.

Fondest Memory (from back then):
When I was 12, my mom piled all five of us kids (I was the eldest) and my grandpa into our station wagon and hauled us from Wisconsin to New Jersey to visit her brother. We stopped at Niagara Falls on the way. I can still feel the spray on my face, still sense the awe of the water's power and the endlessness of its forceful flow. I caught a glimpse of the concept of eternity while watching the water race past without exhausting its supply.

Proudest Moment (from back then):
Many of my proudest moments from childhood are related to music. In Junior High, four friends joined me to form a woodwind quintet (I played bassoon) that consistently won first place awards at solo-ensemble contests. The medal meant less to me than the wonder of creating beautiful music. And seeing the pride in our band teacher's (my dad's) face.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:
My mom worked full-time, nights, and slept (or tried to) during the day from before I was born until she retired. As the firstborn, many of the childcare and housekeeping duties fell to me as soon as I was old enough (and sometimes before that). I had a great deal of responsibility...but with no authority. Five siblings, and there were only seven years separating the firstborn from the last. I learned early in life to balance learning and serving, working while I grew, making do, living on a budget, and stirring a pot while reading a book.

My First Job (paid or unpaid—something you feel is significant) :
Big surprise, I babysat to earn my first wages. Twenty-five cents an hour. But at 16 I secured a job as a checker at a Kroger grocery store. My best friend worked at the next register. Great job. Wonderful experience. And in those days, a girl could earn an entire set of china for her hope chest with grocery store coupons.

Childhood Indulgence:
When Mom left for work at 10:45 p.m., Dad and I and would often open a can of fried rice and eat it while watching the Tonight Show. The other kids were long in bed. It was fun to share that indulgence with my perk of being the oldest. Canned fried rice. Imagine. My tastes have become a tad more refined since then!

Favorite Outfit as a Child:
I really did have a poodle skirt--gray flannel with a perky pink poodle. My sister had one to match. With our hair done up in pin curls (pin-curled perky pink poodle-skirt partners,) we owned the neighborhood.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:
I watched The Wizard of Oz until I had the lines memorized. Then my cousin and I would do live theater of the screenplay. We played all the parts, including the audience.

Favorite Childhood Book:

The Boxcar Children books captivated me. Ingenious children making do with what they had and overcoming obstacles.
Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:

Reading under the covers by flashlight.
Did you pass notes or have a pen pal as a child?

I had a secret admirer who passed me love notes. I wrote back mature things like, "Bug off!" and was caught by a teacher who sent me to the principal's office on the day my dad was serving as acting principal.

Best friends?:
We moved twelve times before I was twelve, so I log my friends by location. My South Dakota friend. My Minnesota friend. During Junior High and Senior High, my best friend was a girl from my youth group...and the cousin of the young man I set my heart on. (I've been married to him for 38 years now).

Any Childhood Pets?

We had a scruffy mutt named Bootsie, several batches of guppies, and then a long-haired neurotic chihuahua named Mitzy.

Was there anyone in your childhood who pointed you to Jesus?
My Dad pastored small country churches in addition to teaching band. I was born in a sea of the love of God. He was followed, modeled, and revered in our home. At a very young age, I came to understand my need to accept Christ as my Savior and make Him Lord of my life. I slammed open the screen door after summer swimming lessons and told my parents I wanted to give my heart to Jesus. The lessons I learned in church played a part. The lives my parents lived led the way.

Cynthia Ruchti at the 2010 ACFW Awards Dinner in Indianapolis. Cynthia serves as president of the American Christian Fiction Writers

 In addition to my role as a novelist, I write and produce a daily, scripted radio drama broadcast called The Heartbeat of the Home, which airs on Christian radio stations across the country. I'm the editor of the ministry's Backyard Friends magazine and write two monthly columns. One is for Wisconsin Christian News and the other is for the ACFW ezine, Afictionado. I currently serve as president of the 2200 member American Christian Fiction Writers and consider it key to my path to publication. I live within 15 minutes of my three kids and five grandkids, and within about two feet of my husband of 38 years in between the heart of Wisconsin's woodlands and cranberry marshes.


2010 saw the release of my debut novel--THEY ALMOST ALWAYS COME HOME--women's fiction from Abingdon Press, and a romantic comedy--The Heart's Harbor--in the Barbour Publishing Christmas novella collection, A DOOR COUNTY CHRISTMAS. Different as they are, I pray both books reveal to readers where they can find the Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark.

Cynthia's Abingdon Press novel, They Almost Always Come Home
Have a chance to win this book by leaving a comment!

Door County Christmas Authors take a break from writing. Left to right: Rachael, Eileen, Cynthia, Becky
Cynthia's Links--check them out!

Cynthia Ruchti Reader Fan Page
Cynthia Ruchti on Facebook
Cynthia Ruchti on Twitter
The radio ministry website is

The Clearing, an artist's retreat where A Door County Christmas authors stayed--Don't you want to go there??


Becky Melby said...

Pin curls! Nothing like too-short bangs and springy, frizzy curls to make a girl feel pretty. Gotta love the guy who invented bobby pins. But think how gifted our moms were--try coiling a damp strand of hair and pinning it neatly to the head of a three-year-old. Don't think I could do it. So fun to learn more about you, Cynthia! Thanks again for letting us show up on your fun blog, Crystal.

Wendy Lawton said...

Love it! There's nothing like getting to know the child in all of us.

Sharon Kirk Clifton said...


Reading about these sister writers has been such a treat. Thank you for interviewing them, and thanks to each for answering the excellent questions so well. I feel as though I know y'all! My genre right now is middle-grade novels, but I think it would be wonderful to cluster with two or three other writers to compile a volume of novellas . . . especially if it entailed on-location research using a delightful B&B as home base. :-)

Write on!
Because of Christ,
Sharon Kirk Clifton

Story and Logic Media Group said...

How fun to reflect on the girl who made the woman she is now.

Rachael Phillips said...

Wow, we're even more alike than I thought! I, too, as the oldest girl, played mommy a lot. And my dad was a small-church pastor with a job....

Great to get to know you better, Cynthia. And thanks again, Crystal, for inviting us by!

P.S. Cyn, did you mention elsewhere that sometime during your school career, you were voted the Posture Queen?

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Posture queen? Yeah. First grade. It was all downhill from there.

Anne Payne said...

Enjoyed your interview. Would love to read the book.


Crystal Laine said...

I keep wanting to click the "like" button as I do on Facebook when I see a comment I love. LOL.

Pin curls! I so forgot about them. And did any of you ever have to wear curlers to bed? I hated that. Ha. And juice can curlers??

It's been a joy for me to host these girls this week. Who would've known that Rachael and Cynthia were alike? And that Eileen did cattle drives with her cousins? And that Becky liked Tang on her PB/jelly sandwiches!

Their book together is so much fun to read. I have heard from a woman whose daughter lived in Door County with her pastor husband--and she is delighted that you all set your book there. Now I want to go there after reading the book.

Tomorrow I'll put the names from all the blogs into my sorter-thingy and pick the book winner. So there's still time to post a comment today! :)

Thanks to all who posted comments and to our four Christmas girls!

Southern-fried Fiction said...

Loved the post, Cyn. I've worked closely with you for 2 years and still learned more about you here. :)

Our childhoods were somewhat similar in the era. That's about it. LOL

Adored They Almost Always Come Home, and would love to read A Door County Christmas. Oh, AND stay at that retreat center!! :D

Jo said...

What a great interview. Now I want to read the book. Sounds really good!


Ann Lee Miller said...

I'd love to win A Door County Christmas.

misskallie2000 said...

Thanks for the great interview and I do remember pin curls and rollers to bed and I also had a poodle skirt. lol So long ago but those were the "happy days" for me.

Would love to win A Door County Christmas. Pls enter my name in drawing. Thanks for this opportunity to enter.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com