Research trip to Franklin, Tennessee

During our drive home from Chicago after Thanksgiving, the idea for my second novel was born. I would be remiss if I didn’t credit Chuck with helping to plant those plot seeds. We talked at length about a potential plot and once the conversation ended everything exploded in my brain. Names, places, ideas. It all flowed. The characters started introducing themselves, just like the other ones did, and I started taking notes.

Curiously, there are horses in this story and I know beans about horses. Hence the research trip to Franklin.

Let me talk briefly about providence. Just as it happened with my first novel, Leona of Uncertain Origin, there have been a dozen little confirmations that I’m on the right track yet again. I refuse to call them coincidences because this thing I’m doing is too big for such an insignificant word. Be it conversations, landmarks, connections, or a hot air balloon floating over my hotel on Saturday night, there is something about this story that feels right and true. There is providence in this process and I don’t even feel crazy for saying it.

We have friends (who started out as relatives of friends) who live in Franklin and live the sort of life I needed to research. I went with this family to the stables on Saturday and met their trainer and farrier, both of whom indulged my questions and curiosities. Nothing was off limits, including the horses.

Curious creatures, horses are. They looked at me as if they wanted to be interviewed too, like they had something to say or a story to tell. I’m thankful for their candor, for it confirmed that their role in this second story is more than just background.

It will be a while before I start writing the actual content so for now I’m taking notes, learning the terminology, and making sure I know each character inside and out. There’s also more to research than horses, but I’ll save those details for another time. In between all of this, I’m still sending out query letters for Leona.

Speaking of query letters, as soon as I got to Franklin Friday afternoon I met with a published author to glean advice and gain perspective on this hugely vulnerable task of finding representation. She’s currently working on her fourth book, so it wasn’t lost on me that she could’ve spent her time doing something other than letting me cry on her lap. I soaked in every word she said, including her advice to press onward no matter what. She also offered critique on my query letter, something I didn’t expect but consider priceless. Like always, fingers crossed.

Before leaving Franklin on Sunday morning, I went for one last drive. I snapped photos and imagined scenes and took more notes. As I circled around to head for the interstate, I drove past a piece of property that looked just as I’d envisioned for the protagonist’s family. I quickly pulled over, flipped on the blinkers, and grabbed my camera. It was providence, tire swing and all.


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