Ashley Franklin

Saving a Manuscript

I know that some manuscripts just don’t work no matter how hard you try. For me, it’s one particular manuscript that I wrote just shy of a year ago. I’m on like version 10. I know some writers talk about doing upwards of 30 drafts. To me, that’s a bit much. It’s not that I don’t believe in the power of revision. Heck, I teach English comp! I just think there are sometimes better ways to use your time.
I was totally focused on this manuscript for quite some time. I refused to work on any other ideas except for it. I feel like I stifled my own creativity due to my being stubborn and forcing the manuscript to work.
So, what’s different now? Two things:

  1. I’ve taken two writing courses since I last touched this manuscript.
  2. I made a notebook specifically for it.

The benefits of having taken two writing courses is obvious. I feel better equipped with the notebook that I made. It’s really simple. It’s a 1-inch, 3-ring binder. In it, I have the following:

  • All versions of the manuscript
  • Lined paper
  • Blank paper (for doodling when I’m stuck)
  • My list from the last PiBoIdMo Challenge (to see if those ideas inspire some newness)

Will this help me whip my manuscript into shape? I have no idea. But, you’re on this journey with me, and we’ll see what happens.

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My first SCBWI meeting

Do you SCBWI? I do. Okay, I just went to my first meeting out in Madisonville, La.on Saturday. I had no idea what to expect, so I did the most logical thing I could think of: I convinced my husband that he wanted to go. He went alright. He happens to know everyone everywhere, so he conjured up a friend and left after a grand total of maybe 10 minutes. But hey, spousal support is cool, so I’ll take it.
Anyway, it was pretty chill. I easily work myself up about social situations, but I’m fine once I’m actually in them. I am the queen of overthinking. We sat in a giant rectangle. There were introductions. There were announcements. There were readings. It was nowhere near as scary or intimidating as I thought it was going to be.
I met some really nice people though. The folks there are all at different points in their writing journeys, and it was just nice to see other writers in real life. Most of the writers I know I only know via social media, so I saw real people instead of virtual people.
Tanget 1: That sounds like an odd twist on Pinocchio or something, doesn’t it?
Tangent 2: I really thought life now would be more like the Jetsons. I am so disappointed.
Tangent 3: “Virtual people” instantly made me think of the Jetsons. Why does nothing make me think of the Flintstones?
So anyway, it was just nice to be surrounded by like-minded folk trying to navigate successful writing projects and/or writing careers.

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Write? Get an accountability partner.

As writers, many of us want the same things. We want to get published. We want that feeling of knowing we have completed something that many others dream of. While on our writing journeys, many of us also want critique partners. (I too have to round some new ones up from time to time.) But, I think an accountability partner is an overlooked gem of an idea.
My accountability partner and I keep in touch weekly. We email each other our goals for the week and do a follow-up once the week is done to see how things went. It’s pretty much a “Way to go, you!” or a “Hey, life happens. Try again next week.” type of thing.
Does this seem overly basic? It’s not. With critique groups, seminars, webinars, conferences, contests, and oodles of other obligations we take on as writers, it’s nice to have someone you can go to that simply encourages you to tackle all of your obligations like a boss. 
If nothing else, you don’t want to look like a chump in front of someone else, so that also increases the chance that you’ll be more productive than usual.
Go on and get some accountability. You might like it.

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An agent? For me? Pinch me!

Breaking news: Today, this happened:

It’s true! I now have an agent, and I think we fit together fabulously well. I feel so blessed and fortunate to have hit such a huge milestone in my writing journey.
*Disclaimer, I don’t usually make multiple posts in a week. It’s just been that kind of week. Don’t abandon ship if you think I’m going to bombard you with posts. I won’t. I promise.*
I know that this is big, and I am truly humbled because I have not been on this journey for nearly as long as others have been. The first book that I bought related to this business was the 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. Yes, that was last year. Look at how worn it is though. Clearly, I got my money’s worth.worn book
In total, I queried less than 10 agents since I started. I know that I am one of the lucky ones, and I don’t take that for granted. While some prefer not to go the agented route, this was definitely something that I wanted from the very beginning. I now feel like I have some muscle-a strong and super efficient support system. I feel like

This. Just. Got. Real.


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Won’t you be my (bookshelf) neighbor?

This week on Twitter, I had a super brief conversation (after all, it is Twitter) in which I agreed that having diversity simply for the sake of diversity in literature is an epic fail. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought of this as an issue until the original poster’s tweet graced me with its presence.
That got me thinking. If folks think writers and publishers are seeking diversity at the expense of quality, it is seriously time to offer up some clarity. For example, it is my dream to be a successful writer. (My definition of that likely differs from yours, but we’ll save that for another post.) I don’t want a red carpet rolled out for me simply because I am a POC writing diverse characters. No! I want to be right alongside of any other writer, POC or not, whose work has received accolades if my writing is of the same caliber.
Yes, recognize that I am a POC and my characters will be diverse. However, don’t box me in. If I happen to write something amazing, I don’t want someone to say that the writing has merit and I’m a good writer for a POC. Nope! If I’m awesome, don’t segregate my awesomeness. Spread it around.
How do you organize your bookshelf? The present state of my bookshelf wold likely give someone hives. It’s just that unorganized to the untrained eye. To me, I have my books arranged by how much I like them. Sula is next to Madame Bovary. Great Expectations is next to Hamza’s Heroes. See, that may mean nothing to you. To me, it means I know exactly what I’m reading next.
Maybe one day I’ll be on your shelf. I wonder who will be my neighbor.

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On writing diverse children's books

The We Need Diverse Books folks have done a great job of making one thing clear: We do, in fact, need diverse books. They have their reasons and their mission, and I’m all for it.
Still, I have my own reasons as to why I have chosen to write diverse children’s books. I was an only child until I was 9. I spent plenty of time with books. I read oodles of books like they fed my soul. Or…maybe I’ve always been slightly socially awkward and books are my comfort zone. Either way, many books were read!
I read lots of animal stories, and I do remember having a copy of Aesop’s fables. I loved the illustrations. I loved the fact that there were brown characters like me. I wasn’t too keen on the fact that they didn’t sound like me. Other books did. For some unknown reason, Jan Wahl’s Timothy Tiger’s Terrible Toothache was one of my favorite books. I would be lying to you if I told you I remembered anything specific about the plot. I can, however, clearly remember how that book made me feel. I didn’t like pain. I had family that helped me when I needed it. Timothy sounded like me. He was my first favorite tiger. (Please don’t tell my kids that, as they firmly believe that there shall be no other tiger than Daniel Tiger.)
I want to combine those two childhood memories. I want to write books that children of color can relate to. I want them to see themselves and hear themselves. If they can do that, imagine how that will make them feel!

A little less lonely. A little more proud.  A lot more special.

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