Dear Readers, I’m thrilled to have another Cynthia Ruchti book for you. When I read her first novel, I was hooked. Her writing is unique, and her stories are always different from any others that are out there. And that’s a good thing.
The more I talk with women readers, especially at speaking events, the more we seem to share a common bond about a little-discussed season of life—the front edge of retirement years. My husband has been semi-retired due to workplace cutbacks since he was fifty and now punches a time-clock only two days a week, although the time-clock has matured to a computerized click. As a writer, I work from home—long hours, intense hours. Most work-at-home women can imagine the reaction I hear when I say, “He’s home all…the…time.” That statement is met with a collective, knowing, “Ohhhhh…”
It’s not a bad thing to be near the person you love and have committed your forevers to. But that season offers challenges rarely talked about. It’s a new dance for a married couple. How do they maneuver when their ideas about almost everything from wake and sleep schedules to agendas for the day to noise-versus-quiet to the meaning of a deadline to television and recliners and “Are you busy?” have completely different meanings for husband and wife?
In Song of Silence, I added other layers to that common glitch. Charlie retired early and loved the idea of having nothing he had to do anymore, other than putter in his garden and go fishing once in a while. Lucy was forced into way-too-early retirement when her role as a music educator in their small town school was cut due to budget problems. Art and music—gone. Lucy’s passion—gone.
But in any good novel, one conflict isn’t enough. Lucy’s song is silenced in multiple ways. Her journey to reclaim it lies at the heart of the story.
Growing up with a music educator father certainly informed the passion part of the telling of Lucy’s story. And my main character is named for a favorite music teacher from grade school—Lucy, who just happens to be married to a man named Charlie.
I so understand. Since my husband and I are in our 70s, we had to work through that season of life. Since I’m still a working author, he often volunteers in various ministries in our area. If you were planning a party with Christian authors of contemporary fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
I know you’d like me to name names, but I have a concept in mind, rather than specific authors. I’d set a table in front of the fireplace, bring in comfy upholstered wing chairs rather than my stiff dining room chairs, serve a delightful meal prepared by—oh, say—The Barefoot Contessa, and greet my guests. Two would be general market authors like Sue Monk Kidd or Jodi Picoult or Anne Tyler, so I could gain their perspectives on stories that draw readers like…um…bees to honey. Two would be long-experienced Christian contemporary fiction authors like Lisa Wingate, Gina Holmes, or Nicole Baart who all write family drama, so I could tap into their thoughts about the meshing of story creation and emotion. But I might also want to include those who write in a genre outside my own, because there’s so much we can learn from one another. Because I do on occasion have the joy of sitting across the table from Rachel Hauck, Colleen Coble, Robin Caroll, Brandilyn Collins, Cara Putman, Becky Melby, Kathryn Springer, and others whom I admire, I would sit with them the NEXT night at dinner! My last two of the six would be chosen from among the many new faces on the contemporary fiction scene. Most of them are writing contemporary romance. I’d love to have the opportunity to sit face-to-face or elbow-to-elbow with younger writers who are intentionally choosing to write women’s fiction where romance is an element but emotion steals the show, where the conflicts are real-life conflicts.
Now let’s do that for a party for Christian authors of historical fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
I would choose those who not only write well, tell great stories, but are crazy-thorough with their research. Writers like Sarah Sundin, Karen Barnett, you
Lena, Julie Klassen, Lynn
Austin, Karen Witemeyer…
Thank you for including me. I’d love spending time with those authors. Many times, people (and other authors) think you have it made with so many books published. What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?
Authors continually invest time and energy to discover new readers who’ve not yet read their books. And new ways to connect with them meaningfully. But a daunting challenge is also pressed upon us—whether by our own intents, our publishers’ expectations, or the God of excellence who called us to this role—to make the next book even better than the last. It’s not a “problem,” but instead a challenge that serves to sharpen me, as it should.
That is so true. Tell us about the featured book.
Music taught Lucy love and beauty. Could silence teach her hope?
Forced to retire from her positions as music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school, Lucy can only watch helplessly as the program her father started years ago disintegrates before her eyes. As the music fades and a chasm separates her from the passion of her heart, Lucy wonders if her faith’s song has gone silent, too. The musical score of her life seems to be missing all the notes.
When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees—and hears—everything.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
Lucy removed her reading glasses and watched Ellie’s thin, thirteen-year-old fingers splay against the girl’s too-flat stomach. “Try it,” Lucy said.
“I don’t have much breath.”
“I know.” The confession drilled so much deeper than it would have coming from any of Lucy’s other students. “Please try.”
She watched as Ellie struggled to fill her scarred lungs from the bottom without moving her upper chest or shoulders. The girl’s hand moved an inch.
“Now, inhale and exhale without letting your hand move at all.”
Lucy tilted her head, eyebrows raised, wordlessly urging a response from Ellie.
Ellie smiled. “Time to be brave? Braver than I feel?”
“Right.” Lucy traced the girl’s line of sight to one of the dozens of motivational posters on the wall. Be Brave. Braver than you feel. Next to it, Right or wrong, blow it strong. Beside that one, Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes possible. Lucy’s favorite, Just so you know, dogs don’t eat music homework.
“Deep breath from the bottom of your lungs. Push your abdomen out to allow air in. Hold it. Now two small breaths in and out without moving your hand. There! You did it!”
Ellie pressed her lips together but couldn’t stop the smile that overrode her efforts. “I didn’t think I could.”
“Now, let’s try that technique for these four measures.” Lucy pointed to the sheet on the music stand. “Keep that expansion in your tummy, even though you’ll have to breathe. See if it doesn’t help you maintain that beautiful tone you’ve been working on.”
The girl raised the silver flute to her pursed lips, a mix of eagerness and skepticism on her face. She exaggerated the movement of her abdomen, her striped shirt proving her obedience, and played the specified measures. Ellie’s eyes flashed her reaction before she lowered her flute. “That,” she said, “was awesome!”
Tears tickled Lucy’s sinuses. “Yes, it was.”
“Does that work with singing, too? Could I join choir next year? Is there room for me?”
Laughter poured out of Lucy’s mouth, but it originated in her heart. “Four brilliant measures and you’re ready to tackle singing, too?” As quickly as the laughter erupted, it died. Her choir? Next year?
“My doctor says he owes you.” Ellie’s flute lay in her lap, the thin fingers cradling it. She stifled most of a cough. “He says he never would have thought of music as cystic fibrosis therapy.”
I never thought my first chair flutist would muscle through CF to keep playing. “I’m glad it’s helping.”
“GDBD,” she said, running her fingers over the instrument. “Good days, bad days?” Ellie looked up. “Do you text?” Incredulity. Lucy took no offense. Even at a few months shy of fifty-six, she must have seemed ancient to a thirteen-year-old. Despite her sassy haircut. And artsy earrings, thanks to Ania’s jewelry-making skills. “Is today a good day, Ellie?”
The girl lifted her flute then pointed to the line of notes on the page, as a pool player might point to the pocket where she intended the eight ball to land. “Mrs. Tuttle, any day I’m breathing is a considered a good day.” She inhaled without moving her shoulders and played the measures as if running a victory lap. Which she would likely never do. Run.
Lucy was three hours away from another school board budget-cut meeting. Could she keep breathing? The discussion had crept too close to destroying scenes like this one with Ellie. Only Lucy’s dogged sense of propriety had kept her from storming the school board’s line of tables and chairs last time. If it crept much closer...
Lucy turned her attention back to her admiration for a thirteen-year-old’s breathless ability to muscle through.
Wonderful! How can readers find you on the Internet?
They can connect with me—and please do!—through my website: http://www.cynthiaruchti.com or http://www.hemmedinhope.com (My tagline for all my stories is, “I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope.”), or through http://www.facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage or http://www.twitter.com/cynthiaruchti and http://www.pinterest.com/cynthiaruchti. You can find images of how I pictured my characters and the setting on the Pinterest Song of Silence board.
As the music fades and a chasm separates her from the passion of her heart, will Lucy's faith song go silent, too? Find out in Cynthia Ruchti's new book, Song of Silence. The musical score of her life seems to be missing all the notes. When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees—and hears—everything.
Celebrate the release of Song of Silence with a blog tour and giveaway. Two winners will be chosen!
One grand prize winner will receive:
- A copy of Song of Silence
- A $150 Visa cash card
- A copy of Song of Silence
- A music-themed prize pack filled with goodies hand-picked by Cynthia
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Song of Silence - Christianbook.com
Song of Silence - Amazon
Song of Silence - Kindle
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