Monthly Archives: March 2016

CURRENTLY: THE WILD GIFT / SCRIPTNOTES EDITION

If all goes as planned, I’ll do a CURRENTLY post every other Tuesday—I heard of this through fellow 2017 debut author Katy Upperman, and you can find the origins of the idea here.

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LOVING

French press sweater

(Yes, indeed I *do* occasionally knit sweaters for my French press.)

When I moved from Austin last October, I feared I’d never find anything as good as the Wild Gift coffee beans sold at Thunderbird. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about—Denton has some incredible coffee shops here that are just spilling over with atmosphere and some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. I’m really loving Bookish Coffee these days, fresh from the French press. I’m sorry to say they don’t sell it online, but you *can* order your own bag of Wild Gift coffee! (Things tend to be pretty seasonal over there, as far as the selection goes, but look out for their Firecracker, Troublemaker, or Ethiopian beans!)

 

READING

I’ve been working on several writing projects lately, so pretty much all of my reading time has been spent on those. I’m hoping to do some just-for-fun reading again soon, though, starting with ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES (Lindsay Ribar) and KINGDOM OF ASH AND BRIARS (Hannah K. West)—these books are staring at me from my iPad, begging to be read, and I am soooo excited to dive in!

WATCHING

I could go on and on about how much I love Jane the Virgin and The Mindy Project, but in short—I waited way too long to start watching these, and I’m *SO* glad I finally did! I’m all caught up with Jane right now (ugh, the waiting between new episodes!), but at least I still have a couple more seasons of Mindy to marathon.

LISTENING TO

scriptnotesScriptnotes podcasts! When I’m driving, when I’m on the treadmill, when I’m doing dishes—I’ve gotten completely addicted to these. I started listening to screenwriting podcasts late last August, when I found out a film agent* wanted to start sending my project out. (*Shout-out to Mary Pender-Coplan, who is amazing! See also: Leonardo DiCaprio + Paramount, which she put in motion.) Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin offer insight into a wide variety of topics—even though I write books, not screenplays, I’ve learned so much from them. No matter the topic, they consistently offer up their thoughts and opinions in a way that’s refreshing and broadens my perspective. The only downside: it’s so motivating I’ve jumped off the treadmill early, to go write, more times than I care to admit.

THINKING ABOUT

I’ve been brainstorming a couple of new projects, so my mind is full of ALL THE POSSIBILITY. Though I love all parts of the writing process for different reasons, this phase is particularly fun—discovering characters for the first time, seeing the bones of plot and structure start to take shape. Next up: drafting!

ANTICIPATING

I’m super excited about April, and the two bookish events where I’ll get to reconnect with writer friends: TXLA in Houston, and the North Texas Teen Book Festival in Irving. Let me know if you’ll be at either one of those events—I’d love to say hi, whether we’re old friends or just meeting or somewhere in between.

WISHING

I recently joined the 2017 debut author group, and you guys, there are SO MANY amazing-sounding books coming out next year. I wish I could read them all right now! I hesitate to even start listing out books I’m excited for—there are so many, seriously—but I’m hearing excellent things about Stephanie Garber’s CARAVAL, and am also majorly anticipating Lana Popovic’s HIBISCUS DAUGHTER duology (we share the lovely Taylor Haggerty as an agent). Here are a couple of Goodreads lists where you can check out allll the books and vote for the ones you’re most excited to read: YA 2017 Debuts + 2017 Debut YA/MG Novels. My book, THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE, has landed on both lists—if you haven’t already, and you’re so inclined, feel free to vote and/or add it to your to-read list.

MAKING ME HAPPY

Cet0q21W8AA_ODg.jpg-largeAlison Cherry’s THE CLASSY CROOKS CLUB hits shelves today! If we’re friends on Twitter, you’ve already seen me tweeting my love for this book, BUT SERIOUSLY. When I first read it, the tentative title was Heist Grannies, and really, do you need to know any more than that? I have so much admiration for Alison’s deft skill at weaving subtle plot threads together, always with tons of humor and heart. ❤

Okay, that’s it for today! If you’ve also done a CURRENTLY post, tweet it to me @olsonkayla *or* leave a link in the comments so I can check it out!

Stop to Smell the Coffee

Earlier this week, I wrote a bit about all the projects bouncing around in my head, and the system I’ve developed to help me work through them efficiently. There’s always more to be done on any given project, and I’m excited and motivated to make progress—sounds great, right? And it is!

But.

If I’m not careful, my days—weeks—months—have the potential to turn into an efficiency machine. I could look up, one day, only to find that time has just completely evaporated.

I’ve been making plans lately. A conference in April, a friend coming to visit in May, a family reunion in June, writer retreats in June and August and October. 2016 feels full already, and it’s, what—end-of-March right now? Not to mention that my book, THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE, will hit shelves in the summer of 2017, and I’ve joined a group full of other authors who’ll debut in 2017, and we’re signing up on spreadsheets to read each other’s books…

It feels like I could easily be so efficient I end up missing the next year and a half. Which seems…not ideal.

So, what to do about this? Simply ‘doing less’ doesn’t feel like the best solution, because I take so much joy in the actual creation of these projects. And it’s definitely not possible to stop time from going so fast—I do wonder, though, if it’s possible to stop it from feeling like it’s going so fast.

Here’s what I’m trying: mindfulness.

Smelling the coffee as I put the grounds in the French press, as I pour water over it. Tasting the arrabbiata sauce—or the honey and ginger and cayenne in my oatmeal—or my go-to snack of chocolate chips/spoonful of almond butter—instead of just inhaling my food. Looking out the window to see the leaves coming in on the branches of our trees. Going on walks and looking at the sky, or the landscaping in our neighbors’ yards, instead of the sidewalk.

Things like that.

I think it’s possible to be completely efficient and functional, yet effectively turn into some sort of sleepwalker. I don’t want to sleepwalk. I want to be awake. So here’s to paying attention, to making a conscious decision to notice things as they’re happening, to taking joy in all the little pieces that add up to a day in the life.

 

 

Projects at a Glance

HELLO!

It’s been a while since my last post—I’ve had a lot of exciting things going on, to say the least. (Book news!) (Film news!) On top of that, I was in the revision cave for quite some time. Now that I’m out of said cave, at least for a little while, I’m faced with a new question: which project should I focus on next?

I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m revising, Shiny New Ideas start popping up out of the woodwork like crazy. I’m a single-focus kind of girl—I like to finish one thing before diving into another—but when it comes to Shiny New Ideas, I allow myself to cheat juuuust a little. I open a fresh Scrivener file and write the first page, trying my best to nail down the voice. That way it’s easier to dive in later, when I actually have time to focus on it.

I’ve accumulated quite a few of these idea sparks. Add in the couple of projects in need of another revision pass, and I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next…long stretch of time.

With so many projects I’m excited to tackle, I needed an efficient way to stay on top of them. Not sure why I never thought of this until this week, but I’ve come up with a super-easy, super-organized system: yet another fresh Scrivener project! Instead of chapter files filled with words, this time I’m basically using the files as a to-do list, one file per project.

Here’s a screenshot of my system:

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And here’s the system itself, broken down:

  • Create one file per project, using your project title as the heading. (I’ve used acronyms for the sake of this blog post.) Put them all in a folder—if you look in the left column, you’ll see I’ve oh-so-creatively titled my folder PROJECTS. To see the bulletin board view as it appears in the screenshot, click on the folder, then select the bulletin board option (as opposed to simple document viewing or outline mode).
  • Write status notes on the index card: what’s been accomplished so far, any next steps you’re planning to take.
  • Customize your labels: I’ve labeled mine current focus (purplish blue), frontburner (pink), complete: awaiting next steps (green), partially complete: awaiting next steps (light blue), backburner (gray).
  • Assign labels to each project, and if you want to, change your settings so the color shows up on the card itself.
  • Put them in order of priority by dragging them around the bulletin board. When you finish something, change the color to green/light blue—then change one of your pinks to purplish blue—and reposition the project accordingly.
  • How I prioritize depends on a number of factors: how much time I have before going back to the revision cave (projects under contract always trump whatever else I have going on, but there are built-in breaks after you turn in a draft), what kind of work is needed for each project, etc. If I only have a week or two, I’ll move brainstorm and write synopsis sorts of things to the frontburner. If I have a month or longer, I’ll focus on drafting or revising. If I don’t know how much time I’ll have, I do the quicker things first and then move on to the more involved ones.

That’s it! Not complicated, really. If you keep up with the system, it should be easy to stay on top of your projects—the far more difficult task, for me, is choosing between ideas I love when there’s no clear reason to prioritize one over the other (the reason I have three projects marked pink right now!).

Happy writing/revising/geeking out over color-coded organizational systems!

 

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