I have a confession to make. Sometimes I like reading really stupid and poorly written novels, especially sappy historical-fiction born-again-Christian romances. They're so dreadfully earnest in their horribleness. I think I'd like to write one myself. I've noticed that historical accuracy, theological soundness, attention to grammar and style, realistic relationships, and good plots are all completely optional, so I figure I ought to be able to handle it. You've just got to include lengthy descriptions of the characters' physical appearance, cutesy fighting/flirting scenes between the love interests, and a chapter in which either the hero or the heroine saves someone's soul. I think my novel will start like this . . .
"Mother, I haven't seen you since lunch. What are you doing out near the willow tree in this isolated part of our homestead plot of land here in the state of Kansas?
The older woman sighed wearily as she looked at her son, whose cleft chin and rugged good looks reminded her so much of her husband at the time she first met him. "Andrew, I am waiting for your brother to arrive. As you may recall, he left home five years ago, and we have not seen him since. I received a telegram from him one month ago saying that he would return on this date, and I am standing by this beautiful green willow tree awaiting his arrival. However, I feel a strange foreboding, almost as if this is the beginning of a story in which complications will arise. I only pray that I am wrong."
The young man looked admiringly at his mother, whose strength had helped the family survive during those bleak years after his father's death and whose looks still suggested the beauty she must have been in her youth. "Mother, at times like this, I can't help thinking of Father. It is a pity that he died 15 years ago, in the year 1832. I always remember the year because that was when Andrew Jackson became president. Do you remember those mysterious words Father uttered as he passed on to the next life? Sometimes I lay awake at night and wonder what they mean, when I'm not busy praying and thinking sanctimonious thoughts."
The older woman looked sadly at her son, noting the unshed tears in his beautiful hazel eyes, which were so like her dead husband's. "Yes, I do remember those mysterious words, which I need not repeat here because you no doubt remember them. If only we knew what they meant---"
She broke off speaking as her clear blue eyes detected a wispy trail of dust off in the distance. "Look, I think it your brother, Hayden, returning. But who is that with him? It looks like a girl. Why would your brother have a girl with him?"
Andrew's hazel eyes turned in the direction his mother had indicated. Looking closely, he could see the dusty wagon and its dustier occupants. "Mother, it is indeed my brother Hayden returning. But that girl does not look Christian. How could he have fallen in with an unbeliever, and how should we treat her?"
The mother sighed deeply once more. "I do not know, Andrew, nor do I know what his relationship is with her. But just remember my handy formula for dealing with unbelievers: 35% patronizing kindness, 43% concern for their immortal wellbeing, 15% sanctimonious self-righteousness, and 7% aloofness so as to avoid contamination from their sinful natures. You can't go wrong with that approach"
As Andrew looked at the approaching wagon and reflected deeply on his mother's wise counsel, he suddenly felt that his life was about to change. And how.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
Well, I'm off to see my publisher. I think I've got a bestseller in the making.