Ashley Franklin

For now, we have eggs.

I am fully vaccinated. I felt like it was the least I could do in a pandemic that has been so large, so overwhelming, and so…much. I thought that with vaccination, I would regain my confidence to step back into the world. Silly me.

I had anxiety before the pandemic started. I’m not sure why I thought it would now be magically lifted. (Let’s hear it for optimism, I guess.)

My kids are out of school for summer break. Last week, they each had an in-person, end-of-the-year party to attend. As a parent, I naturally want to see my kids happy. I wanted them to attend and finally get a sense of normalcy after a year of virtual school. However, as a parent with anxiety, the very thought of taking them stressed me out for weeks!

Just me feeling accomplished for driving and being social.

I did end up taking them, and they had a blast (and wore their masks). Here’s a picture of me having my usual “everything is fine” internal dialogue.

So what does that have to do with eggs? Within days, I received a friendly invitation from a neighbor to come over and see her chickens. External-“Sure, I’ll let you know when.” Internal-“Wayment, I’m supposed to be social AGAIN? So soon?!” Bring on the week of anxiety!

No amount of internal reassurance helped. What really helped was my son. He was excitedly telling me about a dream he had where he faced something that usually scares him awake. This time, he didn’t wake up. This time, he faced it. I asked him if he had still been afraid. His response: “Yeah, it was still scary! I just did it scared.” The animated joy on his face was contagious. It also made me think.

I live with anxiety. I will always overthink things. I will sometimes be too afraid to start things. However, I have to keep in mind that there’s always the option to do something scared. I mean, I do scary things all the time. Staring at a blank page and believing I’ll have the right words to tell a good story is scary. Parenting can be scary at any given moment. As with anything, all I can do is try my best. And sometimes that means I will have to do things scared.

Did I find my courage? I did! In the middle of doing chores, I sent my neighbor a text. I asked my kids if they wanted a break, and we were out the door in less than five minutes. They had a great time! What will an invitation to our next outing bring? Who knows? But for now, at least we have eggs.

Fresh Eggs!
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Intentional Joy

I was hanging out on Clubhouse a few weeks ago with a group of writers, and this question was brought up:

“How has the pandemic affected your writing?”

[Needless to say, there aren’t many of us who HAVEN’T been affected by the pandemic. Some of us have suffered great personal losses, and many of us have struggled to maintain our mental health.]

As far as writing goes, I think it’s likely the same as anyone else who has had to work from home. It hasn’t been the easiest to establish clear and effective boundaries when it comes to friendships, work, and more. Yet, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. What’s the alternative?

What’s amazing is that there are some who have really found a focus and thrived over the past year. I have friends who have loved the transition to working from home. They wish it had always been an option. I also have friends who feel like they are drowning on a daily basis.

Me? I’m all over the place. I’ve worked online as an adjunct for about a decade. No change there. My boys are doing virtual school. My routine of writing could have come to a screeching halt (my pre-pandemic writing happened while they were at school), but it didn’t. At the same time, I still get the nagging feeling that I should be doing more.

How did I keep my writing life from coming to a screeching halt due to the pandemic?

-I stopped waiting for the perfect circumstances to write.

-I did writing tasks in bursts. Example: 30 minutes? I’ll search for wordiness or revise with voice in mind.

-I started 30 minutes of solitary creative time as a family. Example: “Hey, kids! Everyone use your imagination to make something, but you have to do it quietly & in your own section of the room.”

-I was intentional about keeping the joy of writing. I kept in mind that the words would come. Stressing about the how’s and when’s didn’t make them come any faster.

I must be intentional in choosing joy (at least once a day). No matter how my day is going, if I can choose joy just once, it has been a day worth living and not merely existing. It is now a day full of possibilities. When those days add up, it’s much easier for me to be creative.

How will you be intentional with your joy? Think about what this choice will help you to accomplish.

Writing has always brought me joy. I refuse to lose that.

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Doing the Best I Can

I had the weirdest thought as I’m valiantly fighting this manuscript:
“I wish I could go to the grocery store and think.”


Yeah, I know “I write. I teach. I mom.” is my thing, but the Mom part is like 90% of my time. This means, like many parents, I am always multitasking. I didn’t realize the extent of it until we started staying home in March. 😩MARCH!


I am tired—physically & mentally. I am also tired of being afraid. It’s exhausting. I’m afraid that this invisible nightmare could shatter my life, like it has done so many others, at any given second.
It’s the constant state of feeling like I’m doing all the things )yet none of the things) that gets to me. And it’s all under a wide-reaching umbrella of anxiety.


I wish I was able to release one of those infamous breaths in books that I didn’t know I was holding. (Come on, I know you’ve read a line something like that at some point in your life.) But I KNOW that I’m holding this. I don’t know if holding it is what’s keeping me together or if the release is what I need to feel lighter.


I don’t have a lesson or a tidy moral to this story. Maybe I just wanted to share a very real moment with you–just in case you’re feeling overwhelmed too. Maybe I’m tired of fighting the same manuscript I’ve been working on for months when I can usually write one in a couple of weeks and it is a fun distraction to write something completely different.
Maybe I regret not realizing that holding 90s & early 2000s nostalgia concerts behind a shopping cart in Walmart was one of my mental happy places.


But I know that this too shall pass. I have every right to a range of emotions, as we are experiencing a pandemic, after all.
I hope that after this, after life seems a little less scary and a little more predictable, that we all will savor moments of joy no matter how small. Inshallah, I know I will try my best to do so.

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Why I Write for Kids

I was an only child for the first nine years of my life. I spent much of my early years living with my grandparents.

Like any other kid, I had a lot of toys. And being an only child didn’t stop me from having friends and playing outside. Still, my favorite memories are always the ones where I was cuddled up with a book.

We didn’t have a lot, but I never wanted for a lot. I always had what I needed.

Looking back as an adult and talking things over w/ my grandmother, I was surprised at the reality of things.

Me: “Wow, I guess you could say our family has never had much.”

Mom Mom: “Much?! All we’ve had is our Blackness.”

But for me, that wasn’t the whole truth. I also had books. They sometimes came from thrifts stores, like some of my clothes, but they served their purpose just the same. They kept me covered. They covered me from bad days, disappointments, heartaches, and heartbreaks.

I learned perspective. I learned what it was like seeing myself written on the page. I learned the sadness and contempt of being excluded-more than windows and mirrors, shadows and silhouettes.

Books taught me to love words and the magic they can create. It’s simple when you think of it like that.

What kid doesn’t believe in magic? I guess I write because I want to help more kids see the magic within themselves.

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Get in, kid me, we’re going to Florida!

As promised, here’s the Scholastic post.

My childhood highlights consist mostly of book related things–reading books of all kinds, spending recess re-shelving books, the Book-It program, and the Scholastic Book Fair.

I often think about kid me when I am writing or coming up with ideas. I wonder if she would be proud of what I’ve written so far. And since she was a bit of a perfectionist, I often wonder if she thinks I’m playing it safe with my writing and need to take it a step further.

Here’s what I do know about kid me: She would have had her tiny backpack filled and ready seconds after getting the email asking if I was interested in doing a promo video for the Scholastic Book Fairs.

IF?! Months before, I thought it wouldn’t get any better than having NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE be a part of the book fairs starting in the Fall of 2020. Just a week after getting this mind-blowing email in early March, I was boarding a plan and headed to Florida.

Was I nervous? Goodness, yes! Did I show it? Goodness, no! Honestly, like Tameika in NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, I had a moment of doubt. I wondered if I wasn’t quite right to be the one being flown out to places, having car service, shooting promo videos and the like. I wondered if they’d made a mistake and actually wanted someone more important who had been writing for longer and made a larger impact in the kidlit industry.

They got me in all of my goofy glory, and they were okay with that. Thanks to the Scholastic team for making me feel comfortable and special (At the same time!) and Quinn from Theater West End for granting us use of his gorgeous theater (more on everything I loved about the theater later).

Where will my writing journey take me to next? I have NO idea. What I do know is that I’m going to continue to write, and maybe I’ll soar past my wildest writing dreams.

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