The Cupboard Under the Stairs

I’m at the end of my second month of living in a new space on my own. It’s been quite a downsize. I lost a large office/studio in the process. Still I love it in my new place and have found a little nook to call my own– a cupboard under the stairs. It seems appropriate since I write for children and young adults that my work setting is the same as Harry Potter’s infamous bedroom. I dare say that my space is a lot nicer though. All cobwebs have been cleared and a slow spider or two was invited to take up residence elsewhere. It is quite noisy when my teen boys (man-child 1 and man-child 2) tromp down the stairs but the side walls are a little like blinders so that may help my work production. Speaking of which, I’m trying to finish my revision and deliver to my awesome agent by Monday. They say U.P.O.D. (under promise over deliver). I just hope to be able to deliver on time.

Here are some images of my new space! (And Lucy)

Lucy is resting after chasing her bunny.
Lucy is resting after chasing her bunny.








Member Monday: Spring Cleaning

Perhaps it is because we lost an hour this weekend, but I’m only just getting to my computer today and it is 9:40 at night. I have to admit that when the sun comes out, and warms the Earth (it was 60 degrees here in Maine today) it becomes harder and harder to put butt in chair.

Nevertheless, we all have to move forward with our work despite the weather. Spring does put me in a clean up mode. This weekend I hosted my book club which resulted in an epic “sh*t-out” session. For the moment, I have clean kitchen counters that look like this…

Anything that stayed, got moved to my office though so now it’s time for some office organization. Whether you have an actual office space or desk in the corner of another room, it is good to have some sense of order, even if it is an order only you understand.

Here are ten quick tips to help you out with your spring cleaning whether you are a piler or a filer:

1. I tend to be a piler but piles take up a lot of space on my writing desk. Recently, I picked  up these binder clips at the clearance shelf of Staples.

(What writer doesn’t love office supplies?)
As I clean, I plan to clip these babies onto my piles and hang them on the wall with easy to remove hooks.

2. I find that my bulletin board gets covered in layers of paper. Strips of cork attached to the wall gives me space to hang plot charts and illustration sequences. 

3. I have a dedicated book shelf for books that I’ve borrowed from the library or from friends. That way the loaned books don’t get mixed in with my books. The library books move from the shelf in my office to a tote that I keep in my mudroom. This way, I can grab the bag and go. (Finding my kid’s library books is another question.)

4. I’m lucky to have a skinny but longish space for my office. I have a corner desk for my computer then I have another desk that I try to keep clean for journaling by hand, correspondence, bill paying, editing and revision. I still need to feel the pen in my hand from time to time.

5. My printers are on a wire shelving unit that also holds my paper. I keep a recycling bin and ink and toner in bins under the unit. I can easily grab already printed paper for quick drafts so that I’m reducing paper use.

6. I have a basket on my writing desk that holds all of my bills. Twice a month I do as much as I can online then write checks. (Don’t ask me about taxes. My only advice there is hire an accountant. Best thing we ever did.)

7. My family teases me incessantly about my love of tote bags but they help keep me organized. In addition to the library tote, I also have a tote with the folders (my handouts and syllabus in one and a second for collecting work that needs to be graded) and books I need to take to the college class I teach.

8. When I’m at conferences, I tend to collect a lot of business cards and illustrator postcards. I try to write a little something to remind me of the interaction I had with each person then I slip them into plastic baseball card protectors. If I was really good, I’d have specific separate and divided sections of the binder for industry professionals (agents/editors), authors, illustrators, and other Regional Advisors.

9. Google Calendar is my lifesaver. I hardly do anything without checking the calendar and the fact that I can sync my iPhone and my calendar is a lifesaver. Each kid has his own color for his events, I have school calendar info on there, I even use it as an editorial calendar for my blog– noting book release dates and when I hope to post reviews.

10. I’ve never been able to keep my To Be Read list as well as I do with Goodreads. Again, I can access the list on the go, with the Goodreads App, when I’m at the library or indie book store. This helps with getting books that are on my list, as well as adding to my list. (And adding, and adding.)

Still, projects take over my life and my office, and I’m okay with that. There’s a sense of satisfaction in cleaning it all up and starting over again. Ahh… spring! What tips do you have to stay organized. Please share in the comments!