Animals. My wife insists I must have a lovable/evil/faithful/treacherous animal in every story because there are so many pets and pet lovers in the world. People are drawn to pets. People will hate the villain when he/she/it hurts an animal...even more so than when he hurts the human protagonist. They are so vulnerable, helpless (well, except for pit bulls, alligators, and pit vipers), and often cute. So, after one book with only a couple of walk-ons by Rin-Tin-Tin and a hapless rainbow trout, I hereby promise to include an animal in every book from now on. Sydney, my pet cockatiel currently sitting on my shoulder, agreed and said, "Me first." Wise guy. We'll see. So do you consciously put an animal in your stores or do they just happen to wind up there because the story went in that direction? Inquiring guppies want to know.