Hedgehogs, who knew?

A friend of mine just posted on Facebook that she wants a hedgehog for Christmas. She's probably mostly joking, but of course I then had to google "buy a hedgehog" and find a hedgehog breeder near me so that I could taunt her with pictures of baby hedgehogs.

First of all, I didn't really know they could be pets. I thought they were like squirrels, but no, you can buy a hedgehog.

Some other fun things I learned:

1) You can free feed a hedgehog - meaning, just leave out a bowl of food, but you know your hedgehog (can we just call them H-hogs for short? Thanks) is getting a bit plump when they can't curl into a ball anymore. I think that's an excellent test for anyone.

2) They only do well if the temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees. Just like me. If it dips below 70, they will attempt to hibernate, and they don't do this very well. I don't know if that means they can't quite achieve hibernation and just get really sleepy, or if they achieve it *too* well and don't wake up.

3) Either way, the solution is a heating pad. Either put them on a human one, or buy a hedgehog shaped reptile one and put it in their cage. This is the first pet I've heard of where "heating pad" is part of their special needs.

4) No clumping litter. I'm not even gonna tell you where it gets stuck, but I will tell you this. If I ever get a hedgehog, I'm only getting a girl for this reason alone.

5)Hedgehogs are nocturnal. You can wake them up and play with them during the day, but don't try to change their schedule and make them a daytime pet. Again, we might be related. I've heard of werewolves, could I be a latent were-hedgehog? Every morning it occurs to me that I am not a daytime pet.

Right there in black and white

Or maybe it's green and blue... anyway. I was doing some research for my work in progress and needed to look up some demographic data for a little town in California. While I was perusing this city data site, I noticed weather facts. Here are the facts for this little California town - these are graphs showing the number of sunny days compared with the national average - and the number of cloudy days. The details don't really matter - just take a look and get a feel for the shape of the graphs.

Ok, got it? Great.
It occurred to me to look up *my* city and see just how different it is. I live just outside of Seattle.
Here's my graphs:

Just to be clear - that thick green line all by itself at the bottom? That's our average percentage of sunny days, compared with the US average....wayyyyy above it.
And on the cloudy graph - see that big purple mass that looks like it's going to swallow you up? That's the number of cloudy days and that little wisp of yellow at the top is the number of sunny days.

So enjoy your sun, all of you who don't live with me and the purple monster. ;) He and I have made peace - he tells me to fill up my coffee cup and go ahead, read the next chapter of The Night Circus - after all, it's cold out there!

More on pit bulls...

So yes, my new book has a pit bull in it. The research has come pretty naturally - I'm a pro with petfinder - but I keep finding dogs I want. Like this one.
She knows how to sit, shake, high five, and bark "I Love You!" It's not her fault she's a stray - her owner is in jail and she's got no home. I mean, I'm only human...
A friend of mine who works in a shelter kept posting about pit bulls on Facebook and I was like, yeah, yeah... aren't they kind of scary? Why are you so obsessed with pit bulls.
Then she posted a link to the American Temperament Testing Society's page.
They run thousands of dogs through a challenging temperament test every year. If a dog fails the test, it's because they showed unprovoked aggression, panic without recovery, or strong avoidance. It's a much more difficult test to pass than the Canine Good Citizenship test that so many dogs take to prove that they're reliable. Pit bulls passed at about 86% - so for every hundred dog about 14 didn't pass, and they tested around 700. Golden Retrievers passed at a rate of 84%.

And then *I* became obsessed with pit bulls. Why have they been so maligned? Why do people fear them? Why do we read about so many pit bull attacks. Why not Golden Retriever attacks? Or Schnauzer's that only passed at 66%.

It's been a fun journey. I'm almost done with this book. But it's really only used such a small part of all that I've learned. Fortunately, I have a blog. :)

Back for your enjoyment: Dog of the day

Do you any of you long time readers remember when I had my "Boxer of the Day" feature? I used to work above a pet store, and I walked by that pet store every day on the way to Starbucks. Let's be real, I walked to Starbucks more than once a day. And I had to walk past that pet store to get there and back - so I saw the pups sometimes 4 or 6 times a day. One day, the inevitable happened, I fell in love. I called her Hepburn, even though I never got to take her home. She was a little fawn colored Boxer with a black mask. Since I couldn't have her, I did what any other person dealing with unrequited love would do - I became just a wee bit obsessed. I put up a picture of a new Boxer every day on my blog. I still don't have a Boxer. I had another baby instead and I'm still not in a "let's go get a puppy" time of life. But that's good, because I've moved on from Boxer's had have a new dog... love. Let's not use the word obsession, shall we? And since this ties in to the new book I've almost finished, I'm sharing my obsession love with all of you! This is Auggie. He's available for adoption in Seattle. If you adopt him, tell me - I want to pet him! He's a blue brindle with super soft fur and smile lines.

He's also a pit bull. More on that later... I promise!

Steampunk week and other things

It's steampunk week at Tor!

They have a book sweepstakes going on right now and all kinds of posts on Steampunk. I'm reminded when I see things like this that I write and enjoy a particular facet of steampunk - I like mine Victorian and mechanical and pretty clean. That's part of why I'm rewriting the current book to be middle grade - it just fits my style better. Having a middle grader at home for market testing helps, too. :) I also wanted to pass on a writing book recommendation: Katherine Patterson's The Invisible Child: On Reading and Writing Books for Children. Despite carefully avoiding The Bridge to Terebithia as a child (I thought it would be too sad - but I really should have taken the chance since it's a beautiful book. I think my past self could have handled it.) This is a collection of talks she's given at various conferences. The most meaningful to me is on a child's sense of wonder and how important books are to that and how that element is so crucial to good writing for children. She uses language extremely well, and they're both delightful to read and helpful. Even when you're reading them on a treadmill like I've been doing. If they can take my mind off the fact that I'm exercising, which is not one of my favorite activities, they're pretty good. :)

The problem with not posting...

for a bit is then you think you need a big "back to the blog" post and then it's not good enough and then you wait longer to come up with a better post, creating a bigger time lapse, so then you need an even BETTER post... you see the problem.

So let's just all pretend there *wasn't* a big long break and this doesn't have to be a stellar post? Thank you.

Alright then...new things:

1) On writing - the steampunk book is being revised right now. I decided it wanted to be a book for middle graders, and it's taken some time to rework it. It's kind of like knitting a pair of gloves with yarn that wants to be a stuffed mouse. It's just hard on you, the yarn, and the gloves. Better to start over. I'm almost done with the revisions, but just as I was finishing up...

2) I had a new idea that I couldn't let go of. So I've been writing furiously all summer and now... is it fall? Sheesh. So, that's where some of my blogging time went. The new book is about something near and dear to my heart and you can bet they'll be posts about it coming up. Here's a hint, "woof".

3) The blog is remaining steampunky because I have more steampunky goodness coming your way and that's another project that's been taking up my time. No, I didn't mod my laptop into a wonder of brass and wood. This is something more easily shareable. I'll link to it when it's all ready to go!

Ok, so thanks for pretending with me that the whole long summer hasn't gone by without talking. We're here now, that's what's important. Right? Thanks!