Every so often, an author has a moment that makes all the hard work of writing worthwhile. I had one of those moments last Saturday night. But to tell the story, I need to back up about 13 years.
In the fall of 2008 my group of bicyclists known as OOFPAs (Ornery Old Folks Peddling Along) traveled to Jefferson City, Missouri to ride the KATY trail.
While riding the section that goes to Hartsburg, we stopped at a local winery and had lunch. One of the members of our group, Paul Nelson, purchased a bottle of wine and packed it into the saddlebag on his bike. Then we started the ride home.
We hadn't ridden very far when Paul's pedals stopped pedaling. On inspection, he discovered that the weight of the wine bottle caused his saddlebag to sag and it had caught in and broken the derailleur. He needed a bike shop and it was a long way back to Jefferson City.
A couple of speedy men in our group started back for the car while Paul and his loyal wife walked, pushing their bikes. They passed a pathway from the trail to a small restaurant and wondered if there was a telephone he could use. (Yes, this happened before we all carried phones in our pockets.) The restaurant was closed, but the owner, Mark Hooibrink, was there. He not only offered the telephone, but the keys to his truck.
This kind, generous man gave Paul his truck so he could load up the bikes and take his broken one to the bike shop. Within a few hours, Paul had his bike back in working condition, the truck had been returned, and we were gathered at our motel to make plans for the evening.
We all agreed to return to the restaurant for our dinner. We had a delicious meal of chicken, ham, biscuits, green beans, and salads, all served family style in the refurbished Claysville Store.
Meanwhile, this author's brain was churning. At home, a few weeks later, it was NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) I decided to start a novel about a man who restores and converts an old home into a restaurant beside a bike trail. It was several years in the writing/rewriting/editing process but in December 2019 Restoration at River's Edge made its debut.
Now fast forward to fall of 2021. Our biking group made the trip to Missouri to ride the KATY trail again on a section west of Jefferson City. But on Saturday evening, we drove to the Claysville Store and had a meal of chicken and ham served family style.
Mark Hooibrink and his wife, Laura, were there and, believe it or not, remembered loaning Paul his truck. I shared my part of the story and then it was my delight to present them with a copy of Restoration at River's Edge.
So, if you are ever in the Jefferson City, Missouri area, stop in and say hi to Mark and Laura at the Claysville Store. They serve the best chicken. And it is a great setting for a story.
Susan Lawrence taught elementary school for 33 years before hanging up her chalkboard to write and speak. She writes novels for both adults and middle grade children. Susan lives in Iowa with her husband and short-legged Lab, Molly. She has 3 children and 7 grandchildren who love to hear her stories.