In January, four positions on
the ACFW Operating Board change.
Congratulations to Cynthia Ruchti, the new president; Cheryl Wyatt, the
new vice president; Margaret Daley, the new volunteer officer, and
Angie Breidenbach, the new publicity officer. A huge congratulations go
to Robin Miller, Pamela James, Michelle Sutton, and Cara Putman for two
years of service on the board.
This month we’d like to
introduce you to Cynthia Ruchti, the new ACFW president.
congratulations on being elected president. Why did you run for this
It’s no secret that I appreciate
this organization. From my first
contacts with ACFW, I could tell it was marked by a compelling passion
for excellence in writing craft, a desire to promote Christian fiction
to new heights, and a strong drive to support and encourage those brave
enough to seriously pursue writing. I agreed to allow my name into the
nomination pool as an act of obedience to the Lord. He challenged me to
be true to my commitment to go wherever He asked me to go and do
whatever He asked me to do.
That is one of
the things I love about ACFW. The members are
committed to serving one other and following the Lord’s lead for the
organization. Each president gets to put his or her unique stamp on the
organization. What’s your vision for ACFW?
We’ve grown rapidly in recent
years. When I first joined, the
membership roster numbered a relative handful compared to the more than
seventeen hundred now affiliated with ACFW. In these early days of my
term, I’m learning and adjusting, fact gathering, and celebrating the
principles and people who have guided the organization to this point
and the new team the Lord has put in place. My heart is to continue
along that path, to support the goals first established by the founders
and Advisory Board, to build on the amazing work of past leadership,
and specifically to cheerlead the organization’s efforts to grow deep
even as it grows wide. Deep and wide.
You are not a
new face to ACFW, but what’s one thing that readers of this magazine
would be surprised to know about you?
That my golf handicap is . . .
my lack of skill? That I was a baton
twirler back in the day? That I once foiled a mugger on the streets of
Chicago by retorting, “If I had any money, why would I be walking in
this neighborhood?” Young mugger fled, doubled over in laughter.
Hmmm, I may
have to add that mugger foiling technique to a
book someday! If someone comes to you and tells you that she want to be
a writer, what advice do you have for her?
Fiction writer? Join ACFW! But
don’t just join. Take advantage of
everything it offers. The online courses. The archives. Forums. Topics
of the Week. Loop discussions. Critique groups. Conferences. Conference
CDs. Local ACFW chapters. Read every craft book you can collect.
Voraciously read Christian fiction, especially in your genre. Then be
prepared to practice your craft. Volunteer in some capacity. Make
connections with other writers and industry professionals. As you
write, be prepared for God’s timing to look far different from your
own. Journalists know the W words: who, what, when, where, why. Fiction
writers become familiar with others: work, write, work, write, wonder,
worship, wait. Wait. Wait.
the topic of the week coordinator for ACFW and did a wonderful
job. How did you come up with all the creative topics?
I stared at a lot of blank
screens until something showed up. It’s a lot like Where’s
The first year, I tested myself before I ever agreed to take on the
task. I gave the Lord an hour and told Him that if He could help me
come up with a good number of topic questions in that time, I’d take it
as a sign I was supposed to say yes to the invitation to serve as TOTW
coordinator. By the end of the hour, I had fifty-two questions—one for
each week of the year. That list ran out a while ago. From that point
on, I watched for events or objects or quotes or trouble spots in my
own writing that might spark a topic I hoped would generate discussion.
If the loop had been active with weighty craft discussion, I’d opt for
a topic related to the writing life. The task challenged me, but
deepened my appreciation for my fellow writers.
Wisconsin, right? Tell us why Wisconsin is a great state to live in.
Right now, with the air temp
outside cold enough to freeze your
plasma (and I don’t mean TV), I have to use my imagination. My favorite
seasons here are anything but winter. Spring lasts about an hour, then
it’s summer, green and lush and vibrating with activity. Oh wait. Those
are mosquitoes. Where was I? Ah. I think I hear the tourism bureau
calling. They’re looking for a new representative. Did I mention
cheese? And Brett Favre? Oh, that’s right. We lost him. So, we’re back
to cheese. Honestly, Wisconsin is a state with a wonderfully widely
varied terrain and great people with a great work ethic, beautiful
scenery, some of which is in my own backyard. My husband and I spent
several fall getaways visiting Wisconsin’s waterfalls. Few people know
we have them. My husband, three kids, and five exceptional grandkids
live in Wisconsin. Did I mention cheese?
answer is exactly what I love about you! And any
editors reading this, ignore the exclamation points. You write and
produce a radio show. What show is it, and why do you find that
The Heartbeat of the
Home has been on the air for twenty-nine
years. Each fifteen-minute broadcast begins with a slice of life
scene—dialogue between two on-air voices, usually. Storytelling. Onto
that fiction backdrop is woven a devotional-style teaching that helps
our listeners understand how the Bible’s truths apply to everyday life.
Having the opportunity to do what Jesus did—show God’s heart to
people—is an incredible privilege. Offering hope is its own reward.
Only recently have I seen how the Lord used all that short storytelling
to also equip me to write longer works of fiction that reveal God’s
heart and offer hope.
What is one
thing that God has taught you and surprised you with in the last six
One of the key things is
something I’ll keep secret for a while
longer, since it’s the subject of my current WIP and the Lord and I are
working it out together. Oh . . . I’ll tell you anyway! During a
private time of communion when I sat beside my mother, who is gravely
ill, her pastor began the traditional liturgy we know so well. The
young man quoted the Scripture that says, “On the night He was
betrayed, Jesus took bread and . . .” I was completely overwhelmed by
those few words. I’d heard them, really heard them, for perhaps the
first time. It wasn’t right after Jesus and His disciples had
experienced a spiritual high. It wasn’t during a moment when Jesus was
feeling especially loved, appreciated, or understood. It wasn’t because
His disciples finally “got it.” It was on the night He was betrayed
that He offered His supreme gift of love for us, beginning that
pain-wracked journey to the cross. I still get choked up thinking about
the depth of a love that would react not out of a high-five moment, but
in the midst of betrayal to give Himself for us.
What is one
specific way that people can pray for you as you take on this new role?
Some have already let me know
they’re praying for wisdom and
discernment. Others are praying for me to hear from heaven before I
speak or act. Some know I need the Lord’s help to juggle many
responsibilities. But I would also ask people to pray that I would
emerge from this task smelling more like Jesus than I did before I
began . . . drenched in the sweet fragrance of Christ.
I hope y’all have caught a
glimpse of the heart of this woman who
will lead ACFW for the next two years. I don’t know about you, but I’m
excited to see where God takes the organization next.