by Anna Staniszewski

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little weird. I like to make up words and twist them around, and call things and people by funny names. Sometimes this amuses other people, and it always amuses me. That’s one of the keys to storytelling: having fun with words and concepts, and not being afraid to put in your own little bit of wackiness.

Now, I love picture books, but when it comes to writing I tend to be a novel person. I write long. So I was a bit surprised when an idea for a picture book popped into my head and demanded to be written. It was inspired by my dog Emma. (Isn’t she cute?)

Ever since my husband and I adopted Emma over the summer, it’s become a hobby of mine to come up with silly names for her. Miss Emma Dog. The Furry One. Emmakin Skywalker. She doesn’t seem to mind.

Emma gets very excited when she thinks she’s going for a walk. One morning, when she was trying to speed up the process by whimpering, I told her: “Hold on, Dogosaurus. We’re going.”

As we were on our walk, that word kept bouncing around in my head. Dogosaurus. And when I glanced over at Emma’s shadow, with its long snout and sharp teeth, it didn’t seem that far-fetched that a dog could turn into a dinosaur. And wow, what a whole lot of chaos that would be! Thus the idea was born.

At this point, the manuscript is still in its infancy. It’s gone through some major revisions, and I’m sure it’ll go through several more before it’s anywhere near done. But the initial idea, the initial weirdness, keeps me inspired to continue working on the story.

So as you’re thinking of ideas this month, why not try embracing your weirdness? Maybe there are things you do or say that people roll their eyes at? Use them! Maybe there’s a joke you made up that makes you laugh every single time you tell it? Mine it! The idea might be strange and silly, and it might entertain only you, but you never know where your inner weirdness can take you.

Anna Staniszewski lives near Boston with her husband and their adorably insane black Lab. She’s represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Anna’s debut novel, MY UN-FAIRY TALE LIFE, will be published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in September 2011. You can visit her at