Monday, September 13, 2010

Guest Blogger Cynthia Ruchti Asks "What If . . . ?"

Today’s guest blogger is Cynthia Ruchti, President of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, who also writes and produces the daily 15-minute radio broadcast The Heartbeat of the Home and is editor of the broadcast’s Backyard Friends magazine. Her debut novel, They Almost Always Come Home, published by Abingdon Press, has received rave reviews, including this one by Colleen Coble, author of The Lightkeeper’s Daughter and the Rock Harbor series: “A stunning debut novel. Exquisitely written. Highly recommended.”

A writer wields a “what if . . . ?” as a top chef wields a Santoku knife. To a novel, “what if” has the effect of a starting pistol for a runner. It propels a story forward, launches characters off the couch and into a scene, makes the plot pick up its knees, and stirs up some dust.

Cynthia Ruchti and Barbara Scott at the Christy Awards

We know that. We authors value the scintillating possibilities in a good “what if.”

Applied liberally to a story, “what ifs” turn ordinary into exceptional and make readers buy reading light bulbs in bulk.

What happens when we apply “what ifs” to our writing lives and in particular to [ACFW] conference week?

What if the Lord wants me to wait longer for my next contract because He has a life-changing lesson in the wait?

What if the conference isn’t about finding opportunities but about seeking Him?

What if the writer friends I see at conference need my prayers more than my brainstorming abilities?

What if I paid the price of a hefty mortgage for the privilege of discovering my WIP [work in progress] has a major flaw?

What if it isn’t my newly released novel that impresses people but rather my patience with an overworked waitress?

What if this year I am less awed by the big name authors and more awed by the Name Above All Names?

What if I jettison some ego so I can fit in more Fruit of the Spirit?

What if making a sale and making an impression bowed to making Him known?

What if my great idea isn’t publishable and the book of my heart isn’t the apple of any editor’s eye?

What if I spend the whole conference waiting for an unrealistic expectation and miss the God-carved moments?

What if the attendee who tazers my nerve endings is the very person God assigned me to bless?

What if I give more than I get? What if I pick up my cross rather than whine about its splinters?

What if I spend as much time at conference on my knees as I do on networking?

What if His plan for me includes not winning an award, not having an invitation to send a proposal, not securing an appointment with my top choice? What if He’s smarter than I am about what I really need, what my career really needs? Yeah. What if?

What if the Lord didn’t give me an editor so my book would find a publishing home, but so I would find a forever friend?

Books—and the writing life—get more interesting when writers ask “What if . . . ?”

Visit Cynthia at and

Please let me know how today’s blog has helped you. This becomes a two-way conversation when you post a comment. Often I jump back on the blog during the day and will answer your questions or respond to your comments. I have both published and unpublished authors who read The Roving Editor, and we’d love to hear from you so that we can learn from your experience. Let’s talk!


  1. What if I surrender ALL.

    Thanks for the reminder, Cynthia. I'm ready to deal with Monday now.

  2. What if the Lord gave ACFW an inspirational president?

    We know a bit more how much He loves us when He gave us you, Cynthia!

    Thanks for making room for her, Barbara.

  3. Every time my mind starts to run down the path (wow, my husband uses this phrase a lot with me) about the conference, I try to remember to hand it back over to Him.

    I'm having a wee bit of trouble sleeping due to excitement and nerves. What has helped is right before bed I picture myself curled up in a ball right in the center of God's huge palm. I love this image and it usually puts me right to sleep.

    ~ Wendy

  4. Thank you. I will have a lot to think about for the day now.

  5. Cynthia is one of my favorite people. When she sat down at my table during an ACFW conference, she had never published a novel and she wasn't the ACFW president. But she had a great smile, a super book premise, and professionalism. Although she was a bit nervous, her personality and voice came shining through. The rest is history. I signed her as an author with THEY ALMOST ALWAYS COME HOME. Best decision Abingdon's ever made. :)

  6. Teri, Wendy, Sheela...and my Barbara, you are huge blessings. To me and to The Work!

  7. What if the blog I started to "create a platform" turns into an actual opportunity to dialog with people about Jesus?
    What if the part-time job I took to support my writing habit (classes, conferences, ink cartridges) becomes a chance to use writing to help others change their lives and to find a field ripe for harvest where I didn't know one existed?
    What if God finds other ways to meet my material needs to that writing is not a means to an income but an outlet for ministry?
    What if?

  8. Cyn, thank you for pulling us back from the stratesphere of our own imaginations into God's practical and selfless reality. I love the way you think. Hugs.

  9. I love these "what ifs." Thank you so much for sharing them and sending my soul winging in so many good directions.

  10. These questions aren't just for ACFW, but for all writer's conferences. The attitude is for every day of our lives.

  11. Thanks for this reminder. I'm a newbie with no plans to talk with an editor or agent, but to soak in all that God has for me and hopefully be a blessing to someone else in the process.

    Jodie Wolfe

  12. Lori, Terri, the other Lori, Janet, Jodie, thanks for connecting here with your thoughts and encouragement. I hope our paths cross face-to-face soon.

  13. Thanks, Cynthia. I'll be thinking about the words in your blog for a long time. You have a refreshing perspective. Thank you for putting it out there.

  14. Thank you, Cynthia, for focusing my thoughts on the more significant "what if's" not just for a conference but for the Christian life. Blessings to you for all you do to encourage other writers, too.

  15. God bless you, Cynthia. I couldn't have said it better myself (*chuckling*). That's basically what's been going through my mind lately (especially after finding a huge bust in my ms): What if I'm going to this conference to be a blessing instead of to get one. I like that idea.

  16. What a beautiful list of 'what ifs'! I'm disappointed to not be going this year but I think last year's conference is still feeding me. Like so many other things I went with one expectation and left with blessings that surpassed it.

    Thank you Cynthia and Barbara

  17. Cynthia,

    A great list of "what-ifs" that I plan to print out and tape inside my conference notebook!

    Thanks for the great reminders!

  18. Pat, Anne, Debra, Edwina, reading your comments tonight before heading out tomorrow for the ACFW conference helped set a wonderful tone for me. Thanks.

  19. Fantastic post. Gives us all a moment to reflect. Thank you, Cynthia and Barbara.

  20. Great post, Cynthia and Barbara. I love going to conferences and seeing how God works. His ways are always exceedingly, abundantly, more than we can ask or imagine!

  21. I'm always inspired by the way she lives, her Godly conversation, and her prayers. Cynthia is a true prayer warrior, and she has been a listening ear for me. God bless you all for contributing to this rich blogging experience. What if a writing blog is a way to connect with others of like mind who love Jesus?

  22. It was so great to see so many of you at ACFW! Share with us what God did in your life over the weekend.