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.