The Day I Met JFK ~ by Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones is founder and CEO of
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is also an award-winning author with
Harper Collins. You can find Eddie on his Amazon author page  or at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC).
The Day I Met JFK

Please note: what you are about to read is all hearsay.
Perhaps even wholly fabricated.
I was there, but it was half a century ago and I was only like
four or five at the time. My sister swears it happened, so it must have. My
sister is are always right¾even
when she’s wrong. That’s the first rule of diplomacy for little brothers.
In the summer 1960 Grandmamma Jones
lived in a home we called the Green House. When I say “Green House” I am
referring to the color of the home, not the name of the owner. It’s important
to make this distinction because there is
a branch of Greens growing out from the Jones family tree. There is also a
cluster of Gays mixed into the foliage, but the Greens and the Gays have
nothing to do with this story. I’m just pointing out the fact that home was
green, not owned by a Green Jones.
Grandma Jones was a neighborly woman.
By neighborly I mean nosey. She often visited her neighbors, even when she’d
been warned to stay away. On this occasion, she marched us down to the
Governor’s Mansion. I forget why. Knowing Grandma Jones, it most likely had
something to do with canning tomatoes or picking up sticks. Grandma Jones would
often hire us out for the day to clean up from some stranger’s yard. This was
her way of getting us out of her hair while and teaching me to want more out of
life than hard, physical, manual labor. That summer I decided I wanted to
become President of the United States.
“She led us around back of the
Governor’s Mansion,” my sister recalls, “and we sat on the back steps. The
maids brought us lemonade.”
I do not know what Grandmamma Jones
did while Marji and I sipped lemonade. I suppose she advised the governor on
how he should run the state of North Carolina. Grandmamma Jones excelled at
giving advice. She had the spiritual gift of discernment. By this I means she
enjoyed discerning for others.
At some point, I wandered around to
the front of the Governor’s Mansion. Around the same time JFK arrived in his
motorcade. He wasn’t president, yet, and so the parade of vehicles wasn’t
nearly as long as it would become later. Still, it was a big deal, so I stood
and watched as JFK worked his way down the rope line.
“The President patted you on the
head,” my sister recalls, “turned and walked up the steps into the Governor’s
Mansion. Then you followed him. You got as far as the front foyer of the
mansion before Grandmamma Jones rushed in and pulled you back out.”
Isn’t that the way it is with story
telling goes sometimes? You get the action started, characters introduced, and
hint at the main character’s motivation. (Little Eddie doesn’t want to really work. He wants to be in charge
and boss people around, like his grandmother.) Then there’s the inciting
incident: the event that alters the direction of your main character’s life.
For me, inciting
incident occurred when Jackie and John Kennedy adopted me into their family and
shipped me off to the Kennedy Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine

Wait, what?  That
didn’t happen. If it had, my trip to the Governor’s Mansion that day would have
been a huge deal and altered the direction of my life.
As writers, it’s important to discern
the “casual events” in our stories from “causal events.” “Causal events”
contribute to a character’s transformation. “Casual events” are simply props on
a set. A green house. A family of Greens and Gays. A grandmother who is nosey
and neighborly, but also leads the main character to his inciting incident.
I see anecdotal writing a lot in the
novels pitched to me at writer’s conferences. Good writing, compelling
characters, vivid scene development. Then I ask, “What does your main character
want? What’s her inciting incident?” Often the answer is a blank stare.
Let’s have a little fun with this
story. Suppose we changed the name from Little Eddie to William Jefferson
Clinton and the location from Raleigh, NC to a small town in Arkansas. Can you
see how the incident might take on new meaning? Same anecdote only now, instead
of the grandmother pulling little Bill Clinton from the foyer he goes into the
governor’s mansion, sits near JFK, and decides he will become president.
Perhaps Jackie writes little Bill a note of encouragement. Now we have an
inciting incident and possibly, a story.

Introduction, motivation, inciting
incident. Without all three, you only have an anecdote. And without your sister
along to recall the events, you might not even have that.

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.

SIT! STAY! LOVE!

Dana Mentink is a two
time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner. She is the author
of over thirty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. Her
suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and she has also been honored
with a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and Harlequin
Heartwarming. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly,
she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, a dog with social anxiety
problems, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet.

My writing is
going to the dogs lately. No kidding. It’s strange how life parallels art
sometimes. As I worked on Sit, Stay, Love, my first dog-themed book
about a pro baseball pitcher and a geriatric pooch named Tippy, my own sweet
old doggie was about to take her final walk. Nala was a part of our family for
thirteen years and I knew that she was entering her final weeks as I pounded
away on my keyboard. I found the scenes I wrote about the fictional Tippy were
extra poignant, as I watched my sweet Nala enjoy napping in the sun and eagerly
plodding along through her (slow) morning walks.
In addition
to Sit, Stay, Love, I was working on a K-9 continuity for Love Inspired
Suspense! I delved into the world of bloodhounds, otherwise known as “noses
with dogs attached” for that story. So while my fictional dogs flourished,
my own darling Nala passed away, just as both books were headed off to the
editors. Oh how I cried. I still do. There will never be another dog like my
adorable Nala, my writing partner, my devoted friend. For a long time the house
felt empty without the jingle of her collar, and I looked for her in the
hallway and lying on the grass in every patch of sunlight.
But time has
a way of passing, doesn’t it? Spring has brought us a wild, wiry little mutt
named Junie. We went to the Animal Rescue foundation in search of an older,
mid-sized dog and we emerged with a ten-pound puppy who adores her squeaky toys
and steals my pencils at every opportunity.
Odd, that a
similar wild, wiry little mutt named Jellybean is currently finding his way
into my work-in-progress. Junie’s a bundle of zany energy, she eats absolutely
everything and as I type this, she is knocking all the pillows off the sofa.
Will this insanity be a part of Jellybean’s character in Paws for Love? Oh you
betcha. I wonder what our box turtle will think after she awakens from her three-month
hibernation to find out there’s a puppy waiting to sniff, poke and pester her?
“Doggone it!” I imagine she’ll say before she goes to find a nice
hole to hide in.
I don’t even
want to know what the parakeet thinks!
Sit Stay Love
Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work
schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you’re ready for a lesson
in love…Tippy style.
Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he
inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a
pet-sitting service.
Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie
in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with
all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for
all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.
As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she
begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given
blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her
longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is
falling in love with her too…
Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a
family together.
TWEETABLES

Horror as the Perfect Christian Genre?

Almost eight years ago on this very blog I asked the question Is Christian Horror Becoming a Trend? Of course, a lot has changed over those years. Many of the “trends” I mentioned in that post — Coach’s Midnight Diner, Fear & Trembling ezine, ‘Christian Chillers,’ — are now defunct. However, the essential question about the compatibility of the horror genre and a biblical worldview is still alive and well. Most recently, it was asked by novelist Thomas Smith over at The Horror Zine. 

Smith was kind enough to interview me for his piece, Christian Horror: It’s Not as Strange as It Sounds. Here’s a snippet:

As Mike Duran has observed, “I don’t like the term ‘Christian Horror.’ Yes, I use that term. But it’s only as a common descriptor of a genre label that religious writers would understand. The truth is, marketing anything as ‘Christian’ will immediately turn off most non-Christian audiences.  Sure, it may attract religious readers. But the general reading or movie-going public is not beholden to such labels. For example, The Conjuring was directed by two avowed Christians. Nevertheless, the film is rightly marketed as horror. There is a tremendous amount of religious iconography and jargon in the movie. However, the moment you label the film ‘Christian,’ you heighten the narrow expectations of a certain demographic while chasing others away. Which is why I go easy on the ‘Christian Horror’ label.” 

In the CBA the idea of Christian horror as an actual genre is relatively new although there have been many books over the past two-hundred plus years that could fall under that heading, including: The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis (1942); Seeker to the Dead, by A. M. Burrage (1942); The Room in the Tower and Other Stories, by E. F. Benson (1912); The Monk, by Matthew Gregory Lewis (1796). All of the books sold well to Christian and non-Christian readers alike. It is only recently that the publishing industry has narrowed their collective foci and kept the horror story on the fringe. And in the ABA world works like The Stand (Stephen King) and The Darkest Evening of the Year (Dean Koontz), while not strictly Christian fiction, deal with intense theological questions of good, evil, and divine influence. 

“Christian publishing houses largely miss ANY opportunity to exploit the power of the horror genre,” Duran says. “Whereas Christian artists have historically employed horrific imagery in their art to shock and stir the imagination (like Dante, Bosch, Machen, and Charles Williams), contemporary Christian publishing is in a death grip to more conservative evangelical audiences. This is why the typical fare of mainstream Christian publishers is Amish fiction and romantic suspense.” 

If we look at horror for the Christian market in its simplest form, it is a vehicle for conveying ideas. It is the canvas on which the story is told. Nothing more, nothing less. Just as writers use science fiction, romance, adventure history, and humor to tell their stories, the horror writer does the same thing.

So while the “trend” I was hoping for did not materialize, the fact that the question continues to be asked is evidence, I believe, of its relevance and validity. Christian authors continue to approach horror as a valid literary and artistic genre. While it is true that the Christian fiction industry and its readers have never fully embraced the possibilities, Christian authors and readers continue to see the genre as a legitimate “vehicle for conveying [biblical] ideas.” So while “Christian Horror” might not be trending, Christians who write and read in the genre are very much alive and well. You can read Smith’s entire piece HERE.