Letter from the editor, January 2024

’Write what you know’
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Local author Debby Buck DeJonge of Ada is this issue's featured "voice." To learn more about Debby and her books, read "Writing with Authority" in the People + Places section of the Jan/Feb 2024 edition of Grand Rapids Magazine. Photo by David Sparks.

There’s an old adage, a suggestion for would-be authors that goes like this: write what you know. Because most writers are better at conveying ideas regarding subjects with which they are familiar, the process will produce more authentic results: realistic dialog, feasible plot lines, relatable characters. However, there can be a great deal of risk when it comes to writing from the heart. Baring one’s innermost secrets under an icing-thin “fiction veil” in personal memoir style could cause the type of problems nobody wants to have; legal. It can also makes one vulnerable to personal criticisms that can sting. Despite what’s stated above, a reader should never assume that a book sold as a work of fiction is anything more than face-value entertainment. After all, the familiar disclaimer, “This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental” was devised for good reason; to allow authors the freedom to express complex ideas about the social order without offending anyone, or in the case of Debby Buck DeJonge and her two novels set in the glammy world of fancy horse competitions: everyone. The author assured Grand Rapids Magazine that a chapter entitled “The Dirty Shame” in her new book set in the fictitious berg of Boutique Town bears no relation to a watering hole of the same name on the Ada outskirts. I’m a little skeptical, but I’ll let you be the judge. Read all about it on page 20.

In between the pages of the print edition, available now on area store shelves, you’ll also find conversations with the Griffins new coach (p. 32), a cup-stacking prodigy (p. 16), and Jeff Lobdell, who becomes the chairman of the board of the National Restaurant Association this month (p. 76). Planning a wedding? Pasha Shipp’s got you covered with the lowdown on all the best venues (p. 34). Ever wondered which family businesses have been around the longest? Ann Byle talks to several third, fourth and fifth generation owners (p. 42). There’s plenty more, but the one on page 13 is personal. Please read “Clarion Call.” Dégagé needs our help!

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