FRIDAY FX: Make Your Presence Known

Social media has never been more impactful than it has in the past few years. The world has come together to discuss, debate, and challenge many social issues. It has given us a sense of community and inclusion in a time when a global pandemic is keeping us apart.

There are so many formats in social media that it’s easy to get lost, but, if you find methods that work for you as a writer, social media is a solid way to get your name out there. This website currently houses my blog, but I’ll be reworking the site to accommodate any of my published works and future related writing projects. I have an Author Page on Facebook, and I also created an Instagram account. On Facebook, I’ve joined groups that allow users to join as a Page versus personal account, and I also cross post whenever there’s something new on the blog here. I intend to use Instagram for book promotion and other writing-related posts that are more visual. For now, it’s on standby.

As mentioned previously, I’ve joined writing communities via Facebook where we share ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback to fellow writers. Goodreads helps me track the books I’ve read, want to read, and what other people I follow recommend. The To Be Read Pile never dwindles. Other writing based websites offer events, webinars, courses and various opportunities to interact with like-minded individuals.

Recently, however, I’ve re-entered the wonderful world of Twitter. While Facebook requires a different type of involvement, for direct interaction with people in the industry, I’m most active on Twitter, at the moment. It’s more than just liking or retweeting a someone’s tweet. There are great opportunities to engage in some seriously infotaining dialogue with people from around the world. You can build connections, find beta readers or critique partners, and learn what it is literary agents are looking for, so you know whom to query when the time comes.

At present, I don’t have any intention of using a pseudonym or nom de plume for my books, regardless if they’re for kids or adults. My name is my brand. I mentioned in the last post how it’s important to think of my writing as a business. There needs to be consistency across all platforms. While there’s been a change in readership directly on the blog in the last month or so, I’ve seen an increase of people engaging with the blogs via other platform links found on Facebook and Twitter, for example.

I’m still uncertain if there’s a problem with WordPress or if people just shifted their interests and aren’t connecting with my posts of late. While that could be the case, I need to remind myself that my writing will not reach everyone or please everyone. That doesn’t mean that I should stop with the blog or completely change the type of content I’m writing about. I’ve maintained a solid blogging schedule since November of last year and given The Life and Times of Tonette dela Luna in, say, the last five years, at least, this is an amazing feat.

I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on and if you enjoy the content, I’m glad. And I thank you for reading along on the journey. If you’d like to connect with me on social media, I would love to know what compels you as a writer, reader, and/or lover of the arts. What are your favorite platforms? Are there others not mentioned that you’d recommend to a writer? There are a few others that I’m still trying to establish (and navigate), such as Discord, tumblr, and Reddit, but for now, you can find me at:

Facebook Author Page: Tonette dela Luna

Twitter: @tonettedelaluna

Goodreads: Tonette dela Luna

Instagram: @tonettedelaluna

… and of course, I’m here every week and will continue to share the ups, downs, lefts, and rights of my writing journey, putting it out into the ether and making my presence known.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: FIVE BY FIVE

It’s the fifth day of the fifth month. How’s it going in your corner of the interwebs? When life hands you lemons, make chocolate chip cookies, because why not? April ended and May began with some moderate setbacks. But I’m hoping to get back on track this week.

I’ve got a whole new list of submissions to work out, some critique partner work coming up, as well as a beta read, and I plan on continuing to revise my MG Fantasy manuscript. Then I’ll do some genre reading on the side, so, you know, I’ll have a steady flow of words coming at me, at all times.

I haven’t considered doing simultaneous submissions, as yet. I wonder if I should submit it, as is, or see if I can tweak it, in case something came to me after the other submission? Have you ever done that before? Which story outcome would you prefer to use, in such a case? Or would you submit identical pieces to multiple publications and see who bites?

Other submissions seem like they’re not my jam, but I’ve noted the theme and filed them away in a story prompt folder. Who knows, incorporating multiple ideas might work for a different submission and you’ll have a masterpiece on your hands. I stand by the practice of never deleting previous drafts. You never know if you can repurpose something discarded from an earlier draft into a greater story.

Besides all this, because of elevated stress levels affecting my health, I’ve taken more active measures at self-care, this month, even if it means, I step away from the keyboard to recharge, refuel, and reassess the situation to see how best to proceed before I burn out. I’m walking more, thanks to the nicer weather. Masks (yes, double layer), and socially distant. I will continue this once I get vaccinated, as well. We all have to do our part. Reading for leisure is also high on my list of relaxation methods, as well as streaming shows I’ve fallen behind on, or discovering new ones that will thrill, inspire, and awe.

Life’s been overwhelming, both health and work wise, but I’m chugging along, rolling with the punches, adjusting where necessary, and everything is five by five.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FRIDAY FX: Getting Down to Business

Happy Friday!

I pulled the trigger and submitted a short story at the top of the week with a couple more to go (hopefully) before the weekend’s over. With the submission calls, deadlines, agents open for querying, and all other writerly endeavours out there, I realized I needed to get organized before all the details piled up.

A lil’ spreadsheet goes a long way.

I created a handy-dandy file in Google Sheets and currently have three sheets in the works.

The first sheet is for Submission Call Outs that include paid gigs or contests. Currently, because of financial constraints, I’m focusing my attention primarily on no-fee to submit calls. I’m reserving the submission fees for projects that really speak to me or that come with feedback from the publication or event. That way, I’m getting more bang for my buck. Once I have locked in a steady income from these or other writing jobs, I’ll branch out further to the places that have submission fees, because I know that there are reputable places out there that I shouldn’t ignore. Speaking of, I’m also keeping track of scam contests and publications. It would do me little good bragging in a query letter about being published in ABC literary mag or winning a top prize with XYZ, if they aren’t on the up and up in the literary world. The fields I created are the submission window (open and close dates), URL, details (theme, word count, etc.), fee, and the link or email address of where to submit. I currently have it sorted in order of deadline, but I like to organize it based on word count, as well.

The next sheet is for literary agents. I’ve organized it with their name, whether they’re open for queries, their wishlist (what stories/genres they’re seeking), their website, social media links, and where to submit (Query Tracker, email address, etc.). This sheet is easily organized by the agent’s wishlist and reading windows.

And, of course, we have the Submission Tracker. This sheet includes date of submission, submission link/email link, if they received it (via form email or confirmation email), and current status. I can also add details such as date to follow-up on, or whether the piece had been simultaneously submitted elsewhere.

This has kept me more organized, and it’s helped me take a step further into the business mindset of my writing journey. Sure, writing is my passion, but as I’ve learned recently through various websites, webinars, and dialogue with fellow writers, agents, and editors on social media, it’s important to treat my writing like a business.

The word authorpreneur has also come up a lot. It makes sense. This is a scary, but exciting time transitioning from writing because it’s your passion to writing for your future because it’s your legacy. You become your own boss and you’re solely responsible to ensure if your business thrives or not.

How do you keep track of your submissions? Do you prefer high tech with apps and software programs, or do you like to keep things old school, as many still do, with planners and notebooks? There are also those who do a bit of both. Everyone has their own approach. These are definitely scary and exciting times, but I’m looking forward to a new month with plenty of opportunities, now all neatly organized for my perusal and reference.

Scared.

Excited.

Motivated.

Let’s go.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Camp NaNo Week Four Roundup

<cue Europe’s “The Final Countdown“>

Two more days and Camp NaNo closes for another couple of months.

Have a bit of bad news, then we’ll zoom into the good. First up, I got an email regarding my internship application to the literary agency. They said they were going with another candidate. It was a personalized rejection, and I appreciated the person taking the time to do that. While that would’ve been an amazing intro to the publishing industry, let’s look at the bright side here. The position would’ve been for three months. There’s no guarantee that they would ask me to stay on with the agency. Besides, this was literally my first attempt at diving into the biz and I’m 99.9% sure there were dozens upon dozens with more experience in the industry than yours truly.

Sliding into the good news? Well, more opportunity-fueled, really. Right after that email, there was one from an independent film school that is also hiring. I had applied for a remote position there with the same expectations as the literary agency. I’m inexperienced but eager to learn. This time, however, they would provide paid training will the possibility of the part-time position becoming something more permanent. I’m filing this in the “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” category, and I’ll apply for the position. When one door closes, and all that, right?

I’ve fallen behind on the two 5K short stories, but I’ve still got time. One’s due on Friday and the other one Saturday. Of course, as I was busy prepping for them last weekend, I happened upon another publication opportunity that was for 2-6K due last Sunday. I still had that file open and ventured into the potentially gainful territory. Since that deadline was first, I had to take my shot there. I’ll keep you posted on the progress for that and all the other submissions.

So, I went into the final week expecting to produce two short stories and have since hopped back on track after writing a third one to squeeze into the week because, why not?

All of this, along with the notes and recent information I’ve gathered for my MG Fantasy manuscript, and I have to say this has been the most productive NaNo I’ve every done.

I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied in the months to come. I’ll be sharing more details in upcoming posts.

I hope your April was as productive as mine, if not more. I’ve got to keep the momentum going and will head straight into May with a plan and positive determination.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FRIDAY FX: “Hey, What’s the Big Idea!?”

TGIF, fellow writers!

This generation has got it good. We’re living in an amazing era of technological advancement and innovation. <cue curmudgeonly mentor voice> Why, back in my day, we didn’t have this, this Google, you speak of. Ever hear of a library catalogue? Familiar with the Dewey Decimal System?

Between that and waxing poetic on walking 15 miles to school through three foot snow drifts uphill–BOTH WAYS–in the dead of an extended Indian Summer, you get the idea, right? Information, these days, is truly at our fingertips.

So when we’re not typing various questionable entries into our trusty search engine, or bombarding Siri or Alexa with weather updates or what to make for dinner, what other methods do you resort to for information gathering?

BG (Before Google)

We didn’t always have the world at our fingertips. We literally had to do our own legwork. Libraries were, and still are, our brick and mortar haven for knowledge. Speaking of legwork, as long as we’re social distancing, there are benefits of going to the library for research or leisurely reading. Writing challenges and other literary enthusiasts will tell you to get butt in chair and write. However, we need to take breaks to stretch because the sedentary lifestyle isn’t doing us any favors.

That’s not to say that libraries are there just for research purposes. They have activities, events, and rooms to rent for private use, group chats (book clubs, writing clubs, etc.) I used to tutor students at the library, conducted business meetings, and even had documentary screenings with college organizations. There’s way more to a library than its book aisles. It’s like the world is at your fingertips–AND you’re amongst likeminded creatives. Libraries are among my most favorite places to visit.

Eavesdropping/Peoplewatching

I’ve experienced the most intriguing, and sometimes intensely WTF moments, by being adjacent to, or in the vicinity of the strange and otherworldly conversations that happen around me. Thanks for the (sometimes mind-boggling) entertainment, humanity.

Start off small. Coffeehouses, on the bus, at the mall, during a walk in the park. You name it, there are seeds of a story waiting to grow once the idea reaches the earshot of a writer. You’re surrounded by diverse groups of people from every age group, or a combination thereof. Many of my story ideas have begun this way. However, set the bar low. It might be strange, at times, but never boring. There’s plenty to hear, but some situations aren’t worth repeating. But, boy, when you do find that nugget, it’s hard not to run with it.

And who knows? On the way to the library, that walk/commute/drive might provide you with the much needed insight you’d been looking for. Or, you might find inspiration in the change of scenery, versus staring at a screen most of the day.

Writing Groups

I may look to Google for an initial query, but oftentimes, when I know my topic could be tossed in a group post in a writing group, I look forward to that method of brainstorming. Give or take a few hours, to account for international time zone differences, there’s active real-time discussion that you couldn’t get from search engines or online wikis that are edited, at will. These discussions are shared amongst people with experience in that subject and who can add nuances to your topic based on their particular background and geographic location. Of late, my writing groups are online, but when it’s safe to do so again, in-person writing groups are fun and motivating, especially when you’re in exciting conversations or revved up to do writing sprints. Online or in-person, find your tribe.

Social Media

Whether you go to Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram. Ideas are everywhere. There’s tumblr, Reddit, random memes. I use these as story prompts all the time, and they’re fun. Heck, you’ve seen a cornucopia of memes that I’ve included in my posts since I returned to my blog. They. Are. Everywhere. Ideas a-plenty. If not for a story prompt, use the visuals as inspiration for settings or actor pics as your character inspo.

Of course, we’ve got the ol’ standbys of books, television, and film. There are great (and not so great) stories out in the universe. As the reader/viewer, that perception is, of course, subjective. As a writer, however, these are extremely effective tools, because you can see final products out there in the world. You have the ability, along with the rest of the world, to determine what worked and what didn’t.

Just because an idea has been done before, that a story’s been done before, that shouldn’t deter you. Your idea, your story hasn’t been told yet because that’s uniquely you. You add the flavor and nuances from your own life experiences and knowledge that another writer can’t offer. You bring something new to the table. Remember, the majority of plot lines found in books, television, and film are also found in the bible. Brother against brother, massive calamity, plague, public persecution and discrimination. It’s all been brought up before. How will you take these ideas, some old, some outlandish, and create a fantastic read to share with the world?

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.