So today is sort of a random discussion on researching animal life for your novel and a contest because I feel like giving stuff away.
I start my day with a phone call from a friend and the conversation turns to a small dog owned by relatives. She was worried about it getting eaten or mauled by a bear.
My response? "Well, up here the bears wouldn't bother it, but it probably would become victim of a coyote or a fisher cat."
She had no clue what a fisher cat was, and envisioned some mountain lion creature creeping and eating little dogs. It's not. It's this (and I don't own the photo, the dude's name is there and he gets all the credit.)
It's a weasel-like creature and they're pretty fierce despite not being that big (maybe 11 pounds.) I've never seen one but I've heard them shriek in the night--scary, blood-curdling, murderer with a knife shrieking. Many a cat and small dog have fallen victim to these nocturnal, crafty creatures.
The coyotes in the area are also happy to relieve you of your small cat or dog. We've had several news stories where a poor pup has fallen victim to a pack of hungry coyotes. I have heard them off in the corner of our hay field, yipping and making a commotion. The first time I heard them I had thought the neighborhood kids were having a loud, raucous party. They're that rude.
The subject then turned to researching what animals live in your story's area so you don't make mistakes. The little details are important to me, and (being a geeky girl) often wonder what animals or even bugs reside where my characters reside. I've come to discover not all areas have fireflies that flicker in the dusk. Bears here in CT are interested in bird seed and trash, not people. When I lived in Maine we didn't have cicadas--we had to come to CT as kids to hear them buzzing in the trees. We also had red squirrels instead of the normal gray ones, which I hadn't seen until I moved south. I'm not sure if that's true now. This isn't animal-related, but a friend once read a book where the hero gathered apples from a tree and ate them--in spring. Yeah, not tasty apples.
So my point is definitely research these little details to make sure someone in that area isn't going to laugh hysterically at your gator swimming in the ocean. Unless it's an animal gone wrong story, like a boa constrictor set free in the Northeast during the summer. Once winter comes, that sucker is going to be a snake Popsicle. But if you're devil-bound on having a snowy owl swoop in, make sure the state gets visits from them first. Your readers will thank you.
So because you stuck through that random bit of nonsense, you can help me out. What animals live in your area? Leave me your email, state and animals in your area and I'll offer up a back list e-book of your choice and a $10 Amazon gift card. Because it's late in the day and guests keep arriving, I'll keep the contest open until 10/10.
Ready? Set? Gimmie some animals!