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.




Let’s go.

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.


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.

FRIDAY FORAGE – 2013/09/20



( via tickledpink6291 )

What do we want?

A story!

What do we need?

A writing prompt!


Well, it might not always be the case, but if ever you need that extra spark to get the creative juices flowing, here are five ways to get you started (with some bonuses thrown in).



The website of the same name boasts 346 writing prompts to suit your fancy. For those keeping count, that gives you 19 days in the entire year to come up with your own ideas!

Here’s a sample with #105:

Brenda Ueland said, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.” Today, stop what you’re doing and listen for 2 minutes. Then write the new thoughts you had as a result of this simple activity.



Maybe 346 isn’t enough. How about 753? That’s over two years in idea churning!

On a previous visit, I got this: An inscription in an old book. That is a great jumping off point.

More recently, I got this: A movie rental isn’t the movie on the cover, it’s a local politician in a very delicate position. Yowza!



This is an interesting site because of it’s unique interface. With payphone buttons to choose from, you can receive prompts from different categories. For example:

Dial 1 for Settings: A quiet suburban cul-de-sac. A child’s bicycle lies on its side, one wheel slowly turning.

Dial 3 for Dramatic Entrances: An art opening at a lavish downtown gallery. A car crashes through the plate glass window. The driver’s door opens, and an eight-year-old girl steps out.

Dial 7 for Calisthenics: What’s the connection? Bring these elements together to make a story.

  • Bike messenger
  • Walk-in freezer
  • Uncut diamond

And under each ‘number’ dialled you have more ideas to choose from. It’s pretty nifty.



They’re not kidding when they say a picture is worth a thousand words. And with a site like tumblr, you have no excuse. The following pics are all from that awesome feed:

tumblr_mqq18aC9sW1qee12to8_1280     tumblr_mhmezxNSSR1qee12to1_1280

tumblr_mmy7noySCk1qee12to1_1280     tumblr_inline_mqk8u9OosG1qz4rgp





Writer’s Digest has a regular cache of writing prompts which include such gems as:

Don’t Delete Chain Mail

You delete a chain email that says if you don’t forward it to ten people, you will have bad luck for ten years. On your way out of the office, a black cat passes you. Then you find a parking ticket on your car. And, to top it off, your car won’t start. Was it actually the email? Write your response to the bad luck, as well as other ensuing events that make you wonder about hitting the delete button.

You’re Only Crazy if You Say You’re Not

One morning you awake to find yourself in a straight jacket, being taken off to an asylum. How do you prove your sanity? What do the guards and psychiatrists say you did? 

Walled In

You’ve been finishing a brick wall for a room in your friend’s basement for a couple of hours. When you step back, you realize that you and your friend forgot to put in a door. He tells you not to worry about it, he planned it that way. How do you react?



Tell me you can’t come up with some interesting stories just from the examples I’ve curated for you here. I must extend my apologies for the late post. Under the weather on top of all the issues I’ve been dealing with lately, I’m glad I got something out to you all. And as an apology, I have some bonus ideas:

6) People Watch

I once observed (didn’t have a choice as they were taking centre stage at the mall) a teenaged couple fighting. From what little snippets I recognized (speech patterns, not the translation) I believe they were speaking Korean. I didn’t need a translator to figure out what the fight was about. The body language was clear. And it was all his fault. Seriously.


7) Eavesdrop

Honest, I wasn’t, but if you’re on a crowded bus, a busy cafe, or even those brief moments in an elevator, you’d be surprised what you can overhear–completely by accident, of course.

“Like, are you coming over later?” The girl clicked her chewing gum and examined her manicure.

He slouched in his seat, legs spread wide enough to brush against the old lady next to him. “Nah, I got stuff to do.”

“Tsk. Like what?”

“I gotta hit the gym.”

“Whatever, you know she doesn’t like you right?” She pressed her overdone lips together so hard it looked like someone threw a tomato at her mouth.

He scoffed. “You’re just jealous.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. Like I’d get with you–again.”


8) Look out your window.

Sometimes you don’t need to hear the world around you. It goes back to pictures telling the story. Let it unfold outside your window and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see what you come up with.


9) Online or Offline Newspaper Headlines

Hey, if ‘ripped from the headlines’ works for a certain long-running television series empire, they must be doing something right.  << CHUNG! CHUNG!>>  And sometimes, the more you dig, the more outlandish some of these headlines become. You’ve heard the phrase, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’, haven’t you? There are some intriguing stories, baffling news items, and really dumb criminals. It’s a cornucopia of story ideas.


10) Sound Bites

This is a multimedia trick. You can do this with the television, radio, internet, or even a music player. Just let it run, then switch channels, stations, or tracks. Sometimes you get the oddest sentences but it really challenges you to play the ‘what if?’ game.



So, how’d you like them apples? I’m enjoying the FRIDAY FORAGE series, so far, and hope you’re getting some use out of my finds, as well. I even doubled my offering today. Hope they spark some interesting stories for you.


Which reminds me:


(  via __marion__ )