Tuesday, March 29, 2016

That Magic Moment (when your setting comes to life)


By Elizabeth Ludwig

I’ve always dreamed of traveling to New York City. Ever since I set my Historical Romances there—Edge of Freedom Series (Bethany House Publishers)—I’ve imagined what it must have been like to walk the streets a hundred years ago, to see the ships sail into the harbor and witness the eager faces of the people as they stepped into America from Ellis Island. Alas, life intervened, and the trip I’d thought to take was pushed to the back burner.

The desire to travel to the places I wrote about stayed with me, however, which is why I was so excited when my husband offered me the chance of a lifetime…the chance to choose where I wanted to go on vacation. Anywhere. Just the two of us. A second honeymoon, of sorts.

While I appreciated the offer, I really couldn’t believe that my hubby was going to let me choose our destination with entirely no input from him.

I get to pick?” I asked, a trifle skeptically. “Anywhere at all?”

“Absolutely,” he said. “Anywhere you want to go.”

With a broad spectrum of places to choose from spread out before me, I found I didn’t even hesitate. I knew where I wanted to go. I was writing about it in my newest series.

“I want to go to Sugarcreek, Ohio,” I said.

My husband stared back at me unblinking. “You want to go…where is Sugarcreek, Ohio?”

I have to laugh, thinking back on the expression on his face as I write this. For those who aren’t familiar with it (like my poor hubby), Sugarcreek lies in the heart of Amish country. It’s nestled amidst rolling hills and acres of farmland…basically it’s about as far away socially from New York City as you can get, but I was determined to see it and experience for myself the sights and sounds and people I’d only written about.

And so, with surprisingly little argument from my husband, we packed our suitcases and headed north to the Carlisle Inn, a gracious little gem perched on the outskirts of Sugarcreek. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend you visit. It was by far the most beautiful, restful place we’ve ever stayed, and the staff were both friendly and accommodating.

Carlisle Inn
Once in Sugarcreek, my husband and I picked up a handful of maps and set off to discover what there was to do in Amish country on a Sunday afternoon. Don’t laugh…we actually found the drive through the acres and acres of carefully maintained farmland to be quite enjoyable and relaxing! More importantly, I got to see with my own eyes the things my character, Cheryl Cooper, saw when she first came to Sugarcreek in my book Where Hope Dwells.

Afterward, my husband and I popped into Park Street Pizza for a delectable bite of their famous Rueben Pizza—the same pizza Cheryl nibbled on with her date, Levi Miller, in At Home in Sugarcreek. I have to admit, I probably looked pretty silly gawking about the place, imagining where my characters sat, what they said, who they saw. I was also honored to do a book signing at the Honey Bee Café, another one of Cheryl’s favorite places to eat. It was all quite surreal, and very much a dream come true for this author gal.

Of course, I couldn’t leave Ohio without snapping a picture against the giant billboard that first welcomed me—and Cheryl—to Sugarcreek. It will forever serve as a reminder of that magical moment when the places I’d written about sprang to life, and when I could, however briefly, step into the pages of my very own books. I hope you’ll join me there!



Elizabeth Ludwig is the author of No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, books one and two in the popular Edge of Freedom series. Book three in the series, Tide and Tempest, was recently named a finalist for the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Elizabeth was also named a finalist in the 2015 Selah Awards for her novella “One Holy Night”, part of the bestselling anthology collection, Christmas Comes to Bethlehem, Maine. Currently, she is working on a series called the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries available from Guideposts. She is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit ElizabethLudwig.com.

2 comments:

Linore Burkard said...

Lovely to see Ohio featured, Elizabeth. My husband and I have stayed in that area also--and also for research purposes, but we enjoyed it completely. Ohio has a great deal of geographical diversity that most people are unaware of due to the major highways going through the flattest areas of the state. Amish country is hilly and filled with dips and turns--we always marvel at the constant tension between a blind turn and a car meeting a buggy on the other side. Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

I agree, Linore! Before this trip, my husband and I were only acquainted with the much flatter west side of the state. Sugarcreek and the surrounding area was lovely! And the people were so kind and generous. Absolutely loved visiting there.