Ashley Franklin

My experience so far w/ Rate Your Story

So, remember when I got that Rate Your Story scholarship to use for this year? Honey, I’ve already been putting it to use. I’ve submitted 3 picture book manuscripts so far, and I’ve already received feedback on two of them.
I’m not going to lie to you in this blog, ever. I pouted when I saw my feedback. I thought these early drafts were pretty good. They’d been through a couple of critique partners who said they were pretty good. Let me just say that good critique partners are great, but a critique from a professional (particularly someone more seasoned that you are) is invaluable.
Truthfully, the feedback I got was more than just feedback. It was an honest critique. It eloquently told me what needed to be improved, offered concrete suggestions, and pretty much told me to try again. There wasn’t a bunch of added fluff to cushion my fragile writer’s ego. Nope! I understand the compliment sandwich, but critique partners can sometimes get too focused on the compliment part.
I’ve printed out my manuscripts, along with the feedback I received. I’m going to return to them in a couple of weeks with fresh eyes and new inspiration. I’ll let you know how it goes.
 
 

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Of course, hard work, but LUCK!

Hey, writer! Clearly we work hard to hone our crafts. Some of us spend years in the query trenches. Many of us spend a great deal of money  on critiques, books, conferences, and courses. Does that guarantee our success? Absolutely not.
When you are frustrated, and maybe even irritable, with where you are in your writing journey, please don’t forget how subjective this all is.
I’m still toiling away even though I have an agent now. (See, getting an agent is just one hurdle of many. It’s not the golden ticket to being published.)
You may feel that you’re doing everything right and getting nowhere. You could be write. Despite all of your hard work, you may still need the stars to align and the right editor to champion your work.
Don’t underestimate the role of luck in all of this. Just know that out of 365 days, one of them is likely to be your lucky day.
Let’s keep writing!
 
 

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Note to self:Don't get lost in animal stories.

I feel like I am truly getting closer to my dream. Thanks to my overactive imagination, I can almost smell the picture book newness with my name on it. In real life, while I’m waiting to hear back from publishers, I am continuing to write. After all, that’s what you do to avoid stalking your email. Seems logical to me.
I’m drafting 4 new picture book manuscripts at once. (I can’t think one story at a time.) I realized that 3 of them have a non-human main character. For me, this is problematic.
I grew up loving animal stories. They were my comfort zone. Why? They felt like a safe alternative since I didn’t see much of me in the stories I loved. I’ve said before that I had copies of folk tales and all that. Still, I could only relate to them but so much.
Today, I made a vow to draft a manuscript focusing on a human character for every non-human character driven story. That might not mean much to you, but it does to me. To me, it matters. For the little girl whose imagination readily filled with White characters and animals but struggled to imagine someone who looked like her doing similar things, it matters. For the little girl who will always remember being told that she could only be the neighbor or the dog when playing “house” at school because she didn’t match, it matters a lot.
 
 

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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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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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I write. I teach. I mom.

Yup, that’s pretty much what I do. I’m not new to blogging, but I am in the newest phase of my writing journey. During those moments when I daydreamed about being a writer, I never thought that I’d try writing children’s literature. To be fair, this writing daydream changed a few times.
Version 1: I’ll write a bestseller and become a household name for my wonderfulness.
Version 2: I’ll write something super deep and it’ll be in college campuses across the United States.
Version 3: Maybe I’ll just try to get a book of poetry together.
Version 4: Hey, I love reading to my kids. Who doesn’t love picture books?
Clearly, we’re going with Version 4.The question still stands: Who doesn’t love picture books?
So, thank you in advance for continuing my journey with me. I’m sure we will have a few laughs along the way. There will likely be frustrations, but there will always be hope. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with that.

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