If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bringing Order to Chaos

By Julie Tollefson

Our house is a crazy mess of conflicting schedules and looming deadlines right now. The other day, in a fit of emotional overload, I told my husband that I feel like I'm trying to hold so many things in my head, I can't add another thing to the mix. Between our son's imminent high school graduation and almost-as-imminent move to college; my day job, freelance work, and fiction writing; and my husband's high school teaching and coaching responsibilities, it's so easy to let things that are not the emergency du jour slip away undone, unnoticed.

But I hold to this idea (fantasy is probably more accurate) that I am always in control, always organized. Consequently, my search for tools to help me stay on track is never ending. A few months ago, thanks to a tip from a friend*, I replaced my laughable "system" of writing to-do lists and reminders on sticky notes and random scraps of paper with Trello, a web-based program that is especially helpful in organizing projects, like my Writers Who Kill blog posts.

Within Trello, I've set up a "board" for each project I want to track. Here's my Trello dashboard, with projects divided into color-coded boxes.

Purple boxes represent family "projects," dark blue is for the day job, light blue/teal boxes are related to fiction writing, green is for freelance work, and pink boards contain book lists for a couple of book clubs. Clicking on any box brings up the Trello board for that box. This is where the real organizing takes place, and it's probably easiest to understand by looking at an example. Here's my Writers Who Kill board:

​I've created four columns, or lists, for WWK blog posts. When I have an idea for a topic, I create a Trello "card" and park it in the Topics and Due Dates column on the left. When I click on an individual card, it expands to allow for the addition of more detailed information, including a comment feature that I use to add sketchy notes to help me remember in a few weeks or a few months why I thought this topic would make a good blog post. I can return to the card and add more notes any time inspiration strikes.

When I begin work on a post, I change the label color to purple, which I've designated as "active," and I move the card to the In Progress column. I also add a checklist to the card.

After the post is written, peer-reviewed, polished, and scheduled for publication, I move the Trello card to the Scheduled column.

When the post is live (and I've finished the last few items on its checklist), I drag the card to the Posted/Finished column and change its label to green. I also change the name of the card from "Topic: ..." to the title of the post and add the date it published so I have a record in case I ever need it.

One of the advantages of Trello is that because it's web-based, I can access the boards wherever I am: at work, at home, or on the road.

Another benefit is that I can customize the columns on each board, add multiple checklists to each card, and keep track of all of the moving parts associated with each project. The cards and lists can be as simple or as complex as needed. The WWK board shows a simple progression through four columns. My Short Stories board, in contrast, has seven columns: Titles, Writing, In Review, Editing, Submissions, Published, Rejected/Abandoned. A glance at a board shows the status of each component.

Trello has become my master to-do list, replacing the scattered paper notes that are so easy to misplace. I like the peace of mind that comes from knowing that, even when my head can't hold another thought, the important stuff is all in one place on the web.

How do you keep track of all of life's demands? Do you have any neat tricks I can steal?

* Thanks to my friend Aaron Sumner for recommending Trello. He describes his use of the software to track learning and research goals here.


Margaret Turkevich said...

I manage our lives on a kitchen calendar, all due dates noted. I use a stack of clear plastic file folders, one for each project, with a time line as the first page of each file. I review those files once a week when I make up a list of weekly goals.

I see the value of accessing your current projects on line, and keeping all your notes and ideas in one electronic source.

You'll get through graduation with mixed emotions ("It's too soon" v. "I can't wait to have him gone"), and life goes on, as it should.

E. B. Davis said...

I'm organized and keep lists. If there are long-term projects, they usually don't end up on lists, which are more task planners. I'm a short-term planner perhaps because I get satisfaction out of crossing items off my list. I plan by the hour. On occasion, there are things that don't get crossed off and get relisted on the next task list, but usually they don't get transferred more than once. I need to get things done. The longer term things go on my computer calendar where I can get a visual of the months/years. Day tasks on lists, longer on calendars. I like your program, but it sounds as if you juggle more than I do. I get rid of one before taking on another. My time is limited so I try not to take on too much in one time period. Hope your system works for you!

Julie Tollefson said...

Margaret - I like your clear folder idea! One of the problems I've had with folders in the past is I really need to SEE my projects. If I put a list in a folder, it's out of sight and out of mind. Clear folders solves that problem. Thanks for the encouraging words on the boyo's graduation!

EB - I love to mark items off my list, too. The Trello checklist feature gives me some of that satisfaction, but not as visceral as taking a Sharpie to a written list!

KM Rockwood said...

Wow. Am I the only one who kind of drifts through life, hitting the things that are my top priorities and letting the things that are less important to me go?

I gave up the notion that I'm in control a long time ago (actually, I don't think I ever really thought that) and am reactive to things that happen and need to be addressed at the same time I am proactive about things that are important to me but aren't "necessities." Writing falls into that category.

Due to health issues, I retired a few years earlier than I had intended, which gives me more time, but also less control as I doctors, therapy, etc. take up a lot of time & energy. And juggling meds which can interfere with both cognitive and physical abilities takes more time & energy.

When I've tried to organize things with lists & folders, I've discovered I spend so much time organizing that I get less work done.

My husband claims that the empty nest syndrome is one of the most underrated social phenomena in our society.

Once the kids are off to school or whatever, it frees up a whole portion of energy. My daughter may still be out until 4 AM, but I'm not aware of it, since she doesn't live here, and since she lives in California, it's hugely unlikely she's going to call and tell me that the person who drove her to Baltimore is now drunk, and would I please come get her?

Warren Bull said...

Bravo, KM. I was feeling left out of the loop before I read your post. A calendar for me.

Margaret Turkevich said...

poly project folders, in a 5 pack at Staples in the file aisle

Shari Randall said...

Julie, I wish I had had Trello when my girls were in school. That was in the infancy of apps and computers, so I relied on a VERY LARGE and color coded calendar - a prehistoric version of Trello. I think you have probably sold many units of Trello for the company today, so I hope they give you some credit.
Right now I'm still relying on the good old calendar, but thinking about trying something new. Trello may be the way to go.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Google Calendar and Wunderlist work for me (both free and in the cloud so I can access them from computer or phone).

~ Jim

Julie Tollefson said...

KM - My husband is more of the drifter type and when something is important to him, it gets done. Sometimes I wish I could be that laid back, but most of the time it just drives me crazy. :)

Thanks, Margaret!

Shari - You bring up a point I should have mentioned. Trello has a free version and an enhanced version for a fee. So far, I'm using the free version and it meets my needs. (And I'm not affiliated with the company in any way.)

Jim - I'm going to take a look at Wunderlist - love the name!

Gloria Alden said...

Julie, you're far more organized than I am, although I do keep a list of things to do on a long legal pad, and write things on my calendar. I do like using a colored marker to mark off things I've done. Other than that, I'm more with KM and Warren.

Julie Tollefson said...

Gloria - I do sometimes miss the very real feel of striking through an item on a paper list. Clicking a computer button is just not as satisfying!