In the Name of Research

Right before school started, our daughters and I drove east on Ohio State Route 32 to Adams County. We wound our way through the countryside, crossed an old covered bridge, and soon spotted an 18-wheeler, loaded with wooden pallets, pulling away from a large lumber yard. Later in the week, my agent suggested I write a proposal for another book/series, and the brainstorming began.

Once I’d considered (and then quickly rejected) the three potential story ideas I’d jotted in my notebook, the pallets popped to mind. I mentioned this to my husband, who often begins a conversation with, “I was listening to a podcast about…” This time was no different. He recalled a Planet Money episode about pallets that aired several years ago and forwarded the link to me. That week, we stopped at Sam’s Club, where these blue pallets sat in stacks throughout the retail warehouse. We then visited a pumpkin patch, where we discovered even more CHEP pallets. Now I see them everywhere!

In need of more information about pallet manufacturing and refurbishing, I read through job listings online and then called a local pallet company. The gracious man who answered the phone talked through the possibility of my plot points with the hero employed in a specific role. As I waited to schedule a time to observe pallets in action, we traveled to a farm in Ashland County, Ohio. Our hosts asked about my writing and then sat patiently as I explained this most recent story idea. The conversation continued, and God nudged me to be bold. Just ask…

So I did.

The next morning, we met in the barn where the cattle greeted us with curiosity, and I climbed into the seat of a forklift. Not only did we review the anatomy of and terminology related to a forklift, but I had the opportunity to pick up pallets, drive, and deliver the load on the property! If I visited a local company as I had intended, I would have observed from the sidelines, wearing a safety vest and a hard hat. But everything fell into place, and there I was, getting valuable hands-on experience.

I recently shared that the story currently on my heart involves a litter of puppies and their mama. I asked readers to tell me about their dogs’ endearing quirks or adorable, funny, or even infuriating stories I could potentially weave into the plot. And you delivered! Huge thanks to those who sent me an email and left comments on social media. The puppy and pallet research is for the same proposal. The characters have introduced themselves to me, and I can’t wait for them to meet each other. Now comes the hard part – the writing followed by the waiting. I hope this book will one day be published so I can acknowledge Jim and Mike appropriately for their help. I’ll keep you posted.