I'm still splashing, still venturing past the wading pool to dive into the deep end, but I've relocated my website and blog to a new "pool" with a new focus. Come visit at www.cynthiaruchti.com and learn about the Hope that glows in the dark! Thanks for ...

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Splashing in the Deep End - 5 new articles

Relocated

I'm still splashing, still venturing past the wading pool to dive into the deep end, but I've relocated my website and blog to a new "pool" with a new focus. Come visit at www.cynthiaruchti.com and learn about the Hope that glows in the dark!


Thanks for stopping by. I'd be honored if you'd jog on over to the new website and blog.

Blessings always,
Cynthia
    



Patti Lacy's Debut



I'm blessed to offer you a glimpse into the life and work of novelist Patti Lacy, a friend from American Christian Fiction Writers and a joy to those who know her.

Patti, those who read your debut novel from Kregel—An Irishwoman’s Tale—appreciate your attention to detail and historical/geographical accuracy. Is your research homegrown (from your ancestry), Web grown (Internet), onsite (visits to Ireland), or bookish (library)?

Hello, dear Cynthia! ’Tis a blessing to be on your blog, now, isn’t it? My attempt at brogue, and the gorgeous Irish turns of phrases, comes from a research trip to those mystical cliffs in 2005. I was so blessed to accompany the real-life Mary to her homeland. God had so many miracles wrapped up—in shades of green, of course!

I also devoured the usual Irish fiction (ala McCourt, Uris) and some lesser-known gems, like Little Green Apples, looked at maps, websites, and found a wonderful toll-free connection called Tourism of Ireland, which employs writers, students; a hodgepodge of brilliant Irish lads and lasses bored of the usual hotel/pub questions and just itching to help a Yank write her debut novel!

Like my novels, my answers go on and on…Sorry!

What did your journey to publication teach you about yourself? Your faith? Your family relationships?

God keeps showing me that my job is to write for the Audience of One—Him—and not worry about the rest. Oh, He is faithful! The wild, wacky world of publishing has taught me that I am far too high-strung to deal with the ups and downs without His guidance and a good support group. Thanks to Beth Moore’s, A Woman’s Heart, I recently reread Exodus 17:11-12 and marveled at the teamwork needed to do the tasks God sets out for us. Thank you, writer friends, encouraging readers, agent, publicists, editors…it goes on and on!!! It takes a metropolis to make a writer these days!!!

Did you begin writing An Irishwoman’s Tale with the ending in mind or did you discover the ending as you wrote?

Oh, Cynthia, I’ll have to send this question to Dawn, my Kregel editor so she can ROFL! One of my many writing weaknesses is getting the ending right. I think four different professionals took their turn at poor Mary and her climax on Croagh Patrick’s rugged slopes. After y’all read it, e-mail me a better ending…and I’ll consider it…next time!!!!!

What three factors made the greatest impact on your writing career to date?

Timing. God fitting together all the little pieces of my background (avid reader, English teaching field, court reporter career, half a master’s in African American literature, some dysfunctional experiences) to start me writing at just His moment.

A true passion for all the little words. With generous friends like Nancy Drew and Beautiful Joe and Pippi and Jo—oh, hundreds and hundreds of them—I combined loads of voices and found the right one for me. If you want to learn to write, READ!

God’s manna. I have prayed big for God to give me soul food on those bad days. He has been so faithful to send a phone call, a card, an e-mail, a good review, my way. Manna is still raining from heaven—in just the right portions!

Is there a subtle thread that laces An Irishwoman’s Tale, one that thrills you when readers pick up on it?

Well, Cynthia, subtlety isn’t normally a word people use with this displaced Southerner!  I did thread Irish songs and folk sayings through the book hoping to capture the minor melancholic chords that lace many an Irish personality. I also explore first memories in this novel and in What the Bayou Saw. The theme of forgiveness is trumpeted as well. I did use the puffin as a motif for a misfit since the odd-looking birds pop into and then away from Ireland, like my dear Mary. That’s probably the one subtle thing! 

Most  authors have partial novels tucked away in computer files. Which one keeps calling to you?

Right now I have three books in “to-do” files. I’ll soon start the next one as I can’t WAIT to write God’s stories. All my novels explore the secrets women keep and why they keep them. “Spanning seas and secrets” emphasizes the multicultural link I so love to include in my books!

Here’s my about-to-be WIP, Recapturing Lily:

Xiu Ling abandons her baby on the banks of the Yangtze and returns to the studies that she hopes will gain her entrance to Harvard’s ivy-covered gates. When her grades begin to slip in the competitive Chinese education system, Xiu offers atonement to the gods by volunteering at a local orphanage. A darling baby—her own dear girl—is brought in by a raggedy peddler and then adopted by an American pastor and his wife. Xiu plunges herself into her schoolwork and is soon bound for America—but with very different motives than she has listed on the student visa.

Recapturing Lily will explore the Christian notion of sacrifice, of roots, of the tension between God’s dream and the dream of the individual.

 Where were you and what were you doing when you heard that Kregel was interested in publishing An Irishwoman’s Tale?

I got a very short e-mail from Dennis Hillman saying Kregel would like to publish my book. If I remember, I was working on Bayou, my second novel.

What unusual opportunity has your book opened to you?

Oh, the places you’ll go, the people you’ll meet! Thanks, Dr. Seuss, for saying it better than I could. Just last week I got to share “all my broken pieces” with an amazing group of women at White’s Chapel UMC women’s gathering in Southlake, Texas. I met a woman at a Barnes & Noble in San Antonio who stepped out for the first time after a long ordeal of chemo, just to buy a book. In Corpus Christi’s bookstore, a woman brought her daughter to meet a writer—and I met a former student of my dear father, who has been dead for nearly a decade. Viola expressed gratitude to my father for being tough on her—and making her a tough teacher. Viola inspired her daughter to become a teacher—no amount of book sales could equal the high created in that glorious Barnes & Noble in Corpus!  And this was just over a three-day period!

Whose appreciation of your book has stirred you to the depths?

The heroic readers who’ve taken the time to share their connection with Mary, either because of their own bout with the devil’s tools of suicide, substance abuse, and familial dysfunction.

Are your future projects linked to this one by emotion, location, characters, or some other factor?

Yes. I’m broken-record stuck on women and their first memories and secrets and how God will use even the worst past to pull us from the mire of dysfunction.

How would you complete this sentence? If I could choose my ideal location for a book signing, it would be the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland.

What was the last stamp on your passport?

Ireland, 2005. If my budget cooperates, the next stamp will be China, 2009.

Where can readers find you on the Internet?

www.pattilacy.com. I’ve tried to create a hybrid blog/website; y’all come on over and enter the March heroes contest! 

    



Opposites

"Let's play Opposites!"


Since my oldest is more than thirty, I've been playing Opposites (and Rhyming and Colors and Hide 'n Seek and Situations--our homegrown version of "What would you do if...?") for a minimum of three decades.

I'm pretty good at Opposites by now.

Hot? Cold. Wet? Dry. Up? Down. In? Out. Frogs? Um...toads? No, wait. Something furry and doesn't hop--polar bears?

When one of the grandkids suggests we play Opposites, I'm ready with my vocabulary arsenal.

But have we humans learned how to use the opposites principle to best advantage when life gets hard?

The ink on my to-do list is running off the edge of the paper. What's the opposite of that time-cramping scenario? Nothing on my to-do list. Would I like that better? Nothing meaningful to occupy my time? No thank you!

My husband hovers while I'm in the kitchen trying to get supper. It's a small kitchen. He's a tall man. He throws shadows on my work space! What's the opposite? Would I like it if he didn't want to be with me? If he didn't care to know what I was doing? If he didn't want to come home at the end of the workday?

I can't have nice things. Well I COULD have a new coffee table, but it's probably best if I wait until the last grandchild is done teething and learning to walk...until the last grandchild has grown out of the desire to play with PlayDoh, until they stop using my garage sale coffee table for their picnics. The opposite of a scarred, beat-up, sticky, all-function-no-style coffee table is an enormous tufted leather ottoman and the babies all grown up.

I'll wait for the leather.

Doctor visits bumping into each other? The opposite is no good health care nearby. The opposite of aches and pains is lack of feeling, or paralysis, or death.

Dirt on the floor? I have a floor. Mud on my shoes? I have shoes. Closet too crowded? Oh, brother! What a thing to complain about!

Tough time deciding what to make for supper? What's the opposite? Bare cupboards make the decision easy.

The next time I'm unhappy with how things are going, I hope I remember (and hear) the voice of God saying, "Let's play Opposites!"



    



“When life gives you lemons…don’t ...


“When life gives you lemons…don’t confuse them with hand grenades.”

 

With that opening point, author James Watkins reveals his unique take on…well, everything in life. In his new book from XarisCom, he turns his humor and his heart to the subject of:

 

Squeezing Good Out of Bad

 

“Life is filled with lemons!” he says. “Here are the top ten ways to squeeze the good out of those life-puckering situations.”

 

James Watkins brings both empathy and experience to the pages. He's known the squeeze of cancer, unemployment, family crises and “chronic nose hair.”

 

With humor stirred in like a refreshing portion of lemon zest, Watkins tackles tough subjects and leaves his readers grate-ful (sorry for the pun) for his insights.

 

He says:

 

When life gives you lemons . . .

10. Don't confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)
9. Check the delivery slip (Determine if it's your problem)
8. Sell them on eBay (Profit from the problem)
7. Paint smiley faces on them (Laugh at the problem)
6. Join a citrus support group (Share your problem)
5. Use as an all-natural, organic astringent (Grow from the problem)
4. Don't shoot the delivery driver (Forgive the problem-maker)
3. Graft to a lime tree for a refreshing, low-calorie soft drink (Take the problem to a higher level)
2. Grow your own orchard (Live a fruitful life despite—or because of—the problem)
1. Give off a refreshing fragrance (Live a lemon-fresh life).

 

James N. Watkins is a friend and colleague, and an award-winning author of fifteen books and over two thousand articles including a column each issue for Rev. magazine. He serves as an editor with Wesleyan Publishing House and instructor at Taylor University, as well as popular conference speaker. His most important roles, however, are as child of God, husband, dad, and "papaw." Read more than you’d ever want to know at:www.jameswatkins.com/bio.htm

 

Jim is offering a free electronic copy to anyone who is currently unemployed or disabled. (Details at Web site above.)


For more information, or to purchase a copy (or a bushel) of Squeezing Good Out of Bad, check out http://jameswatkins.com/bookstore.htm

 

    


Not What I Expected

It’s a family joke. Perhaps in more households than just our own. The males (no offense intended) were born without the ability to find lost things.

“Honey? Do we have any toothpicks?”

“Yes, dear. In the spice cabinet.”

“I’m looking in the spice cabinet. They’re not here.”

“Yes, they are.” By this time, I’ve already stopped whatever I was doing and am heading for the kitchen to solve his toothpick mystery. Ah, there they are. In the spice cabinet. Front row.

“I didn’t see them,” he says.

“I know, dear.”

“I thought they were in a red and white box. Wasn’t expecting yellow.”

That’s what stops me. He couldn’t find the cotton balls because they were on the second shelf, not the top one, as he expected. He couldn’t find ME in a crowd, because I was wearing my sister’s coat.

I can’t fault him, though, much as that might be in my nature. I do the same thing. I don’t recognize the Lord’s answers to my prayers because they don’t come packaged as I expected. I thought I’d see my friend Mary healed of cancer. God took her Home for healing. I thought financial provision would come wrapped in an unexpected check. It arrived as endurance. I looked for spiritual growth in soul-stirring conferences and high-powered retreats. It appeared disguised as heartbreak.  I hadn’t thought to look there.

After 36 years of marriage to a hyper-observant wife, my husband is learning to look for lost items in unexpected forms. And after years of being surprised by the shape of God’s answers, I’m discovering where they hide and why I’ve sometimes missed them.

He didn’t fail to answer me. I failed to notice.

    


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