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I’m going to start an experiment tomorrow.

I’ll wake up at 5 a.m. to write.  I’m not a morning person. At all. I’m a night owl. I write in the afternoon while my daughter naps, and I write at night once everyone else is in bed. I like the quiet in the afternoon while the other house inhabitants are off at work and school. And I like writing at night because I can just write until I get tired, without the clock ticking down that my shift is almost up.

But, sometimes my kid doesn’t nap. Like today. She sat in bed singing at the top of her lungs just on the other side of the wall, and for some reason it made my revisions more difficult. Sometimes I go out at night, or get tired, or what have you and I don’t write for the day.

Then I get cranky.

So, I need a new system. I’ve tried writing in the morning before. I’ve tried to sneak downstairs and out the back door to my office/shed without waking anyone, but I have creaky stairs.  One or both of the kids will wake up, and in the house I will stay.

Now summer is right around the corner, and those guys will be home all day. I love summer. I like to garden, hike, kayak, and laze around in the park. We go for ferry rides and camp on the beach. Summer is my season. If I can trick my brain into some early bird creativity then I can have that feeling of accomplishment to carry through the day, which is so much yummier than that mild frustration of not having done the work. Right? So, I’m going to try and reprogram myself now.

I’m not the only one.  Jolie and Ben came up with the idea, and I’m just tagging along. They’re going to try it, too. Some of my other favorite creative folk like Martha and Jaime already get up early. So, I’ll be in pleasant, groggy company. I may need to pick up a coffeemaker for the shed.

Wish me luck.

When do you write? Why?

They tested me for mono!  I genuinely thought it was something exclusive to teenagers.  I just remember it as the kissing disease, and pity the kid who caught it.  I haven’t been kissing any sickly strangers, so it was a little perplexing.  It’s just a cranky sinus infection that I can take out with some antibiotics.  Yeehah!  I’m eager to breath, and have energy, and spend long hours in my shed.  

Oh, I miss my shed.

Speaking of which, no sooner had I publicly declared a state of writer’s block that it started melting away, and new ideas popped into my head.  I’m neurotic like that.  Before New York I tried to diet, and actually ended up gaining weight.  I’m a stubborn, neurotic brat, is what I am.  Maybe I’ll work on some sort of reverse positive affirmation experiment.  I’ll start the day by looking in the mirror and declaring, “You are a wretched writer!  You won’t write a word today, and if you do it will be terrible.  Eat the fattiest, starchiest things in the cupboard.  And don’t even think about exercising!”  Maybe it will kickstart a new phase of skinny creativity! Hmmm.

The Cybils were announced!

I think I might swipe an idea from Mo Willems.  I’m not changing the protagonists in my book into an elephant and pig, but I may just make a chalkboard room.  

Publishers Weekly interviewed Lisa Yee.

T.S. Ferguson likens publishing to dating.

And, last but not least, Laini Taylor has revealed the cover of her new book, Silksinger!  Can’t wait!

Before I had the shed, I wrote here:

dining room

This is our tiny dining room.  It’s more like a corridor between the living room and the kitchen, so this table tends to be a catch all and isn’t usually this bare.

We moved just over a year ago and it was really important that I could have my own space to write in our new house.  We found a house we loved, but it didn’t really have a place that I could make separate and call my own.  I started looking into things like the Readymade shed, but I’m nothing if not quirky, cheap, and green.  So, we bought a shed on Mercer Island for a couple hundred dollars and paid the slowest handyman in the world to take down, transport, and reconstruct it in the backyard with a couple of changes (FYI, you don’t need a permit in Washington if a structure is under 12’x12.’).  We wanted a green roof, so we changed the pitch and added some waterproofing.  We had it wired for electricity and added a heater.  My husband put some click flooring and shelves in, and voila!  The shed of solitude!  The weather was changing before it was finished, so the exterior painting and roof planting will wait until spring.  I don’t care, because the inside is perfect for me.  It’s goofy, but having my own space to work has really helped my confidence as a writer.  It’s an investment of our resources and space devoted to creativity, and I am very grateful for it.  

Here’s the almost-finished-outside:

Outside shed 12/08Next year it will look pretty different.  






The inside is better.

shed deskThe ceiling




The worktable.














The lighting:  I bought the hanging light at Restore, and I spray painted a plastic plate to make the light ring.  The turquoise lamp I bought at Goodwill for $5, and I covered the lampshade with a few fabric scraps, including a bit of the mermaid fabric I blogged about over the summer.  lamp











A few peeks at little things like:









A wee felted dog










Button flowers



laini's lady









Kayaking Lego man










One of Laini‘s ladies






handstandFelted rocks and cards and notes on the junk shop hand stand that scares my husband a little.













the other side



Isn’t it cozy?













The other side.




So, there you have it. The shed!  I feel so fortunate to have my own little studio to work in.  Everyone needs sanctuary, especially those of us with creative pursuits.  I hope you find your own little corner of the world that helps you focus.

I kept track of the shed as it was rebuilt for the woman we bought it from, so if you want to see what it looked like as it was rebuilt, you can look here.

Have a happy, healthy, creative, wonderful new year!

I may have been short-sighted when I named my blog Wagging Tales.  It’s a little too cutesy, and there’s an, ummm, animal communication business that has the same name.  I meant to think of something better, but then a few people started actually reading it and I got lazy.  Now, some sort of wires have been crossed and editors are asking me to review dog books.  Not even kid lit dog books- a dog memoir, dog advice, and dog training.  Three different houses.  I somehow got tagged as the go-to dog lady.  But, I am not.

I’m going to reexamine the blog renaming.  Feel free to make recommendations.

We usually spend Christmas in Colorado with most of my immediate family.  It’s a fabulous 5 days of playing in the snow, drinking, laughing, playing board games, drinking, bickering, eating junk food, name calling (hippie/yuppie/liberal cityslicker/etc.),  and laying around.  My dad even dresses up like Santa on Christmas morning when the little guys are there.  Yes, it’s that festive.  

So, we’re staying home in Seattle this year and I’m having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit.  This month has been a little chaotic with colds and non-holiday tasks, and I’ve been distracted.  I have most of the elements.  Small children- check.  Games- check. Name calling- (Thanks, random man on Pine!)- check.  I didn’t have a lot of junk food or liquor, so I stocked up- check.  Things were looking up, but I still wasn’t in the yuletide spirit.  Add a bunch of snow and some nog, and I’m almost there.  

stickers1Ohhh, I got my package today from the Book Bloggers Christmas Swap.  I think I’m only a book blogger in a broad sense, since I don’t review books (and especially not dog books).  Anyway, the package is lovely and  I’m going to try and wait until Christmas to open it.  I’ll take some pictures, too.


If I was an illustrator, I would have a PDF for downloadable stickers on my site like this.

I was reading an excellent article on transracial adoption (We adopted our daughter from Guatemala in 2007).  A lot of the issues that come up around transracial adoption are also valid when you talk about mixed heritage, blended families, regentrification, urban settings… you name it.   I have a mixed Hispanic/Anglo heritage.  I don’t look Hispanic.  At all.  But, I was raised predominately around the Hispanic side of my family in Hispanic communities.  I felt caught in the middle a lot.  

The article quoted a local performer named Chad Goller-Sojourner, a black adoptee with a white family.  He gave a pretty good analogy on having a different race than those around you.

“Let’s say I was a gazelle adopted by lions,” he says. “I pranced around happy until I got to first grade and all these lions tried to attack me; it’s like they didn’t get the memo. The other gazelles, they smelled the lion on me and didn’t trust me, so I stood open.”

That’s pretty heavy, right? I think that’s how a lot of kids feel who are not of the dominant race, or who are outsiders in another way.  I bring it up here, because I think it needs to be said.  There has been a (much needed) push towards more ethnic characters in kid lit.  I think sometimes these books don’t connect with the reader because the author fails to tap into that feeling of being an outsider, and how being in the middle somehow taints you a little for either side and takes away the automatic belonging.  We don’t just need characters with different ethnicities, we need characters with the complex emotions and settings that go along with being different.

Nathan Bransford has recapped the year in publishing.

I’m making a resolution to post pictures or a video of the shed in the next ten days.  There, I said it.  It’s been a little hyped up, so bear in mind that it’s a shed.  It’s my shed, though, and I adore it.  I also adore my new video camera, and that is a great motivator.

I hope however and wherever you’re celebrating the season that you have a lot of peace and joy.

Happy Holidays!

Carl Hiaasen and Mike Lupica are making a pilot for HBO?  You had me at Hiaasen (via The Longstockings).

Speaking of Longstockings, Cynsations interviewed editor/author/supermultitasker Lisa Graff.

Sara Crowe, kid lit agent at Harvey Klinger, has started a blog.  Go visit Crowe’s Nest.

Neil Gaiman works out of a shed, too.  

I’m not working out of a shed.  Yet. The shed is still in progress.  Our carpenter said he’d be done in a week, but it was not to be so.  They should finish the roof today, and start working on the interior.  I’m ready to move in!  I bought a lamp!

Ok, here are some more progress shots.  I’ve lost track of time, but this is what’s happened in the last ten days or so.
































My shed has a porch! And it will have a green roof.  Yay!  We’re debating what color to paint the outside.  My husband says he should get input on the exterior colors.  HA! HA, I say (Hi honey!).  I want it to be bright and artsy.  I’m thinking periwinkle blue with a yellowish green trim.  He likes red.  What say you?

Off to exercise, and then write. My manuscript is shaping up nicely and I’m anxious to get back to it.

I have been reading a few picture books lately that remind me how important it is to be in touch with what is truly happening with your reader at that age.  My son started kindergarten this month and has been gobbling up the new fall releases about starting school.  If you’re writing a book with this type of setting you should know what many writers do not:  Preschoolers and kindergartners are not typically snarky, sarcastic, or cruel.  There is a common theme of mockery, namecalling, and belittling, that is becoming popular.  It is false.  I’ve spent my share of hours in classrooms as a co-op parent and a teacher, and the early classrooms are not that hostile.  Really.  Middle grades?  That’s another ball of wax- and another age.  

Just had to get that off my chest.

Alright, moving on.  

The Cybils have a new category, and have announced the new panelists for it.

Ask Daphne liveblogs her reactions to a whole lotta queries.  Take notes!  Part one, and Part two.

Writers are not the only ones that get neurotic when the rush of new love with a manuscript wears off.  Editorial Ass outlines the editorial cycle.

Loose your page?  How about Orange has origami bookmarks that are easy peasy.

Shed update:  The carpenter took the weekend off, so there was no progress on the shack this weekend.  I’ll post some more progress pictures in a couple of days.  I hear sawing and hammering as I type. Yippee!  I did get some flooring and researched installing an extensive (lower maintenance) green roof.  We’d probably have to change the pitch a little bit and reinforce it a tad, but it sounds doable.  I found this picture on ecogeek, and now I can’t stop daydreaming about a herd of tiny goats troptroptropping over the roof of my tiny studio.  Like chihuahuas, only more likable and with bah bahs instead of yap yaps.

Maurice Sendak- not really a people person, but a good secret keeper .

Yuyi Morales made a book trailer out of the lovely presentation she gave at the Golden Kite Awards Ceremony last month in L.A. (via Cynsations).  

There’s a new Notes from the Hornbook available.  You can sign up to have new notes straight to your email. 

In other Horn Book news, Roger Sutton points out that the Palin banned books list is false.  Phew! I’m still not voting for her.

Are you a writer or illustrator who gets hassled on the streets by your legions of adoring fans when you just want to duck out for a donut?  I may have the solution (via Craft blog).





Speaking of craftiness, Heather Ross has a new fabric line that makes me want to write stories about mermaids. I like the aqua best, but I couldn’t get a good shot of it.  I bought a bunch, but I don’t know what I’ll make with it yet.  Perhaps something for the shed.



Kidlitosphere is a mere two weeks away!

Ok, here are some before shots of the site of my studio-to-be.

Day one:


The back fence is being rebuilt as well, in case you were worried that a squirrel might push it over.

The back fence is being rebuilt as well, in case you were worried that a squirrel might push it over.












Day two, a few pieces arrive:










Day three- even more pieces!:









Today the contractor emailed to say that nothing was left to deconstruct but the base, and that my office to be is a marvel of shed strength.  They say it’s taking longer than expected, but it should still be done within the week.  The roof couldn’t be reused, so I’m going to ask them about an extensive green roof.  

I’ll post some more shots later as progress is made.

I write stories for kids while volunteering as the Assistant Regional Advisor and Conference Coordinator for the western Washington chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

I live in Seattle with my family and a small zoo of animals. I drink copious amounts of coffee and assign complicated life stories to passing strangers. I'm currently working on a middle grade novel.

There's a wee bit more on my website. You can also follow me on twitter.


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