In lieu of my usual babbling, I’m going to let my friend and fellow author Wendy Sparrow tell you a little bit about quirky writer habits. This is part of her blog hop for The Teacher’s Vet. I read the novella earlier this week and totally fell in love with the quick humor . . . and puppies.
As part of the release celebration, Wendy is giving away an awesome necklace that I made. You’ll find the entry form at the bottom of this post.
Research—Down the Rabbit Hole We Go
by Wendy Sparrow
It’s funny that I’m doing a guest post on this because my first thought was: can you go too far down the research rabbit hole? Then I remembered this one time on Wikipedia. (This is the writerly researcher’s version of “This one time at band camp…”) Folks, never look up signs of arousal on Wikipedia. All I wanted to know was if pupil dilation was a myth, and I ended up wanting to gouge my eyes out. There’s also many a time where Urban Dictionary left me feeling like bleaching my brain.
How far will I go to research a book?
Well, let me tell you in regards to The Teacher’s Vet.
I started off a babe in the woods in the ways of veterinarians. That didn’t last. First, I needed to research turtles because Nora and Caleb meet over a sick class pet, a turtle. I studied website after website on turtles—what they ate, how long they lived, how you could tell one type from the other, and then how a sick and dead turtle would look. (I know, that last one is cheery. I do this for you, readers, for you.)
Next, I moved on to dogs and kenneling dogs. I researched which breeds I wanted staying in my vet’s office and how they behaved. I looked up the strangest things dogs will eat . My Google searches looked like: Weird Things Dogs Eat.
Dogs eat weird things.
But, wait, I had a dog in the story that was going to give birth. Cue many hours watching newborn puppies and puppies being born.
We don’t kennel my own dog, and he hasn’t seen the inside of a vet’s office much, so I started asking my best friend odd and intrusive questions. “When Slinky goes to the kennel, do people stay overnight with him? Or is he there all by himself? How many other animals are usually there? What kinds of other animals? Can you hear the kennels from the rest of the vet’s office? What about the animals needing to go out to do their business—how is that handled? How much does that cost?”
I swear to you, it’s a testament to how bizarre I must be as a friend because my friend never asked why I was asking all these questions.
I looked into different types of vets. I read about treating various animal maladies. This! That! The other! I’m halfway to a degree…as long as you don’t need any practical knowledge and everything you found on the internet is correct. (It’s not. *gasps* I know, right? Luckily, my editor saved my tail with her veterinary experience.)
It’s not all puppies and turtles, though. I had a substitute teacher to research too. My mother was a substitute teacher as were other family members, but teaching certificates and requirements vary from state to state, so I looked up everything to do with teaching for Washington State where my story takes place. It made me want to give a standing ovation to our teachers and substitutes. Wow. Just wow. They deserve to be paid a whole lot more.
There are unwanted and unexpected side effects relating to web searches like this. For example, Facebook thinks you’re one freak short of a freak show as it tracks your searches—like a creepy stalker, but they will find you what you need!!! Oh, yes, they will. The ads on the side of my Facebook page are terrifying, people. According to Facebook, I’m a jet-setting, militant homebuilder with aspirations of going back to school to earn a degree…also, I’m a dog lover. That last bit is true, but they shouldn’t know that.
So, we’ve dealt with the dark, the disturbing, and so on, but it’s about to get…boring.
If you need a bathroom break, you can go ahead and go now. We’ll wait.
Okay. So, now we’re on to hyphenated words. Not all words turn out to be hyphenated. And some words you think are hyphenated—aren’t. Laugh all you want, but most of my web searches (web searches is two words, by the way) are to verify if words are just one word or two, and is there a freaking hyphen, or not?
You’re laughing? Stop laughing. You’re about to get schooled, fool. Since The Teacher’s Vet is a Back to School novella, I’m taking you back to the classroom. In the comments below, and without cheating, you Cheater McCheatersons, tell me whether the following words are one word or two, and hyphen or no hyphen per the Free Dictionary. (I’m lumping them together as one word, but don’t let that toss you.) And maybe there’ll be something in it for you if you get them all right. *raises eyebrows* If you think you can manage it….
Oh, and to answer the question of how far down the rabbit hole is too far…in Alice’s words:
“It was much pleasanter at home,” thought poor Alice, “when one wasn’t growing larger and smaller, and being ordered around by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole—and yet—and yet—it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life.”
For you, I’ll go all the way.
If you have other questions about my web searches, visit my blog where I post Watchlist Wednesday web search results, or chat with me on Twitter (@WendySparrow) where I’ll keep you up-to-date on how much eye bleach I’m using for the day.