Welcome to the online home of Audra Jennings, a book publicist and crafter. Here I share about both. I hope you'll find books you'll want to read and crafts you will want to order. I live a rather boring, single life. At times I would like to think I am humorous. The kids I teach in Bible class tend to think so. I also blog about current seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I don't know why, I just do.
Cynthia Ruchti shares from her heart about All My Belongings
The webcast will be hosted on Ruchti’s Facebook page, as well as the Litfuse Publicity Group website for readers without a Facebook account. Leading up to the
webcast, readers can RSVP for the event and sign up to receive an email reminder. From May 22 – June
10, fans can also enter the contest for the Grand Prize VISA cash card via the
author’s Facebook page or the blog tour landing
An interview with Cynthia Ruchti,
Author of All My
Some people are raised by doting parents in a loving home where they
have a safe place to grow, to belong. Others come from homes broken by an
absentee parent, hurtful words, regrets, promises not kept or a myriad of other
sins. In All My Belongings (Abingdon Press/May 6, 2014/ISBN: 978-1426749728/$14.99), author Cynthia Ruchti tells the
story of a young woman who feels out of place within her own family and must
learn to live in the shadow of guilt and shame that haunts her as a result of
her father’s crimes. A new life and a new identity can’t free her from a past
that refuses to go away.
Q: Your books — both fiction and non-fiction — tend to
have a strong personal tie to them. What from your own personal experiences do
you bring to All My Belongings?
The heart of the
author comes out in everything he or she writes. My books are a blend of
emotions or experiences I’ve known and a heightened empathy for friends and
family who’ve walked these paths. From those very real challenges, I draw on
imagination to create stories that aren’t afraid to tackle tough subjects, but
with what I hope is an embracing and bracing tenderness and compassion. That’s
definitely true with All My Belongings.
While I didn’t have the main character’s embarrassment about her parents and
where/who she came from, I’ve known others whose families make their lives
Where I do connect
deeply with the story is caregiving for someone in her final days of life. My
mother was what we call “actively dying” for four years and entered a residence
hospice for what we all assumed were the final two or three days of her life. She
endured another nine months of the dying process before she went Home. All she
craved was my time. Her need seemed so familiar. When I was a child, she worked
nights and slept days. It took a toll on her, on all of us. Her devotion to
nursing was strong, and she was good at it. I didn’t always understand or
appreciate her exhaustion or why she couldn’t attend a school function or have
the kind of time for me I hoped for. I knew she loved me, but I craved her
presence. Then, in the end, that’s all she wanted from me. I know I’m not alone
in having had to work through and set aside my past longings in order to give
her what her heart needed. Celebrating the tender moments and loving through
the ugliness of the natural processes of dying made an indelible impression on
me. Dying is an inescapable part of living. Figuring out how to do it well,
whether the person leaving the earth or the one left behind, is an intricate
dance that is beautiful when mastered, but clumsy when the lessons are ignored.
Q: The lead character, Becca, struggles with feeling like
she’s never really belonged anywhere. Isn’t that something we all deal with at
some time or another? Is there anything that makes Becca’s situation different
Women make up the
majority of my readership. I have a theory that we women never completely leave
junior high. We weave in and out of experiences that challenge our sense of
belonging. Sometimes we feel disenfranchised, even in a marriage or with our
nuclear family. Work situations can throw us into another cauldron of confusion
about where we fit. As readers take Becca’s journey with her, they’ll find that
our place to belong doesn’t always look like we thought it would. Our
assumptions get trumped by the surprises into which we feel our soul settling. “Ahhh.
This is it. This is where I belong.”
Sometimes as we gain
from what we survive, we discover what we were seeking was ours all along, like
Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Our life
strips away the distractions so we see the One who created a belonging place
for us that can’t be taken away by how we feel or what happens to us or where
we came from.
We’re all misfits, in
some way — at church, at home, in our neighborhood, among our friends, in our
extended family. There’s something about us that creates a sense of
restlessness on some level, even when life is perking along. We find ways to
adjust around our “misfitness.” The word “achieve” is interesting applied to
belonging. I think in many ways it isn’t a pursuit as much as it is a
discovery. Discovering where we fit in God’s scheme makes the other puzzle
pieces fit for all of us.
Q: Have you ever had to separate yourself from a family
member or friend because of something that happened in the past?
I’ve known people who
have had to, but I haven’t personally been in that position. I come from an
exceptional family history. Throughout the years I’ve listened to the heartbreaking
stories of others who were abandoned, ignored or neglected, and whose parents
acted as if they had no children even though they did.
Q: There are a number of ways you could have written
about a young woman trying to escape the sins of her father. What made you
choose the crime of euthanasia?
The numbers of novels
dealing with physical or sexual abuse are many. But sometimes what makes us
ashamed of our past isn’t related to that kind of abuse or takes abuse to yet
another despicable level. I wanted the story to explore what it‘s like to have a
parent’s reputation taint not just a daughter’s life, but the community’s. I
needed the character to wrestle with something different from other books on
the market, and yet the emotions are in many ways the same as any kind of
barrier between the heart of a child and the heart of a parent.
In this case, her
father’s acts had a more far-reaching effect on others, not only in what he
did, but the attention on the trial and the press, all of which made it more
difficult to escape the spotlight. Her father’s choices went against her own
convictions, but how would she respond when those convictions were put to the
Q: For most Christians euthanasia is a very black-and-white
issue. Do you personally feel there is ever an area of gray?
We assume we have it
all figured out. There’s criminal euthanasia — for personal gain, either
financially or for some other twisted reason. There’s involuntary euthanasia — where
the perpetrator believes he or she is doing the right thing in ending a tortured
life, but against the wishes of the person killed. Then there’s voluntary
euthanasia — when the patient is involved in the decision-making.
We may have our feet
planted firmly on the side that none of the above is acceptable. I didn’t
include this subplot to present an essay on the evils of euthanasia, but to spark
conversation about why we believe the way we do. For me, it created a framework
against which I could examine what else is involved in decisions like these.
What kind of pain presses people to even consider euthanasia? And how can we
condemn those who wrestle with the issue, especially those who have sat at the
bedside of a terminal loved one in extreme, relentless distress?
Personally, I believe
our default option has to be letting God decide the length of our days. I have
witnessed such indescribable beauty, even in the hard days at the end of
someone’s life, and I wouldn’t want to grieve over the tenderness missed in
cutting that time short.
Q: Not only did Becca feel guilt by association due to
her father’s actions, but bore the guilt of reporting his crimes to
authorities. What are some ways we can deal with the various kinds of guilt we
bear in our lives?
Guilt isn’t always a
bad thing. Sometimes it serves as a warning to us that prevents bad choices in
the future. Sometimes it presses us to ask forgiveness and re-establish a
broken relationship, or make restitution for a wrong we’ve done. That’s a
sorrow (or a guilt) that leads to repentance, as the Bible says.
But when guilt is
unwarranted or we’re bearing guilt vicariously for someone else’s deeds, then
we are carrying around a weight we weren’t meant to carry, and it threatens to
bend our emotional spines into permanent disfigurement. Sorting through
reasonable versus unreasonable guilt is a first step.
Guilt can become a
label. Not only do we have to remove the label intentionally, we need to ensure
it doesn’t become a tattoo. Guilt can serve a purpose, but after that purpose
is served, there’s no option other than to discard it.
The words come
easily. The process can be emotionally taxing.
Q: All My
Belongings addresses caregiving and the responsibility of spouses and
children. Do you believe caregiving is something inherent or something we
learn? Does how we are parented as children affect how compassionate we are
affect our caregiving abilities. Some seem gifted for it. Others are as awkward
in caregiving as a kangaroo on stilts. No matter where we are on the spectrum,
we can learn a more graceful and grace-filled caregiving. Insecurities can keep
us from being a natural caregiver, but we can grow in the practice as we
observe someone who is elegant at it. Even if our first attempts are clumsy, we
can catch onto the rhythm of it, if our heart’s in the right place and we’re
humble students of the process.
Q: In All My Belongings, the strongest victories came from situations
that look completely bleak and hopeless, yet the characters press on. How is
that a reflection of life outside the pages of a novel?
most memorable moments and the seasons with the strongest impact on my own
character have been the ones that challenged me and called for a depth of
courage I didn’t know I had. Losing someone I loved. Dealing with a traumatic
diagnosis. Knee-rattling concern over a loved one’s choices. Upheavals in
Some of the characters in All My Belongings adopt the phrase “guacamole!”
to underscore the truth that some things in life are even better after they’re
pulverized. Tracing back through the years, we can probably all point to times
when we discovered a depth of meaning behind that statement. Life can mash us
or tenderize us, depending on our response to its challenges.
Q: How does forgiveness
impact parent-child relationships even in adulthood?
Sometimes we outgrow or overcome the resentments, embarrassments,
and hurts we experience in childhood . . . even those natural to the best of
homes. But unforgiveness between parents and their children can utterly poison
their adult relationships. What could be more heartbreaking than parents and
grown kids unable to connect, harboring old grudges or vindictiveness over old
sins? A friend of mine suffered at the hand of an abusive step-father. Because
she determined to be generous with forgiveness, throughout the years his heart
softened. Those in-between years weren't easy for her, but by God's grace, she
kept a firm grip on her commitment to forgive and love whether he deserved it
or not. The relationship they have now is the kind of step-father/step-daughter
bond others wish they could know. It's almost become a comedy routine to think
of holidays and other family gatherings and assume the dysfunctions will
create the stories told after the fact. Forgiveness can change those stories to
something soul-satisfying and God-pleasing.
Q: What is the one spiritual lesson you hope readers will
walk away with after the last chapter of All
where we belong is less about a place or a reputable heritage and more about a
faith that forms the foundation of all other belonging.