Ashley Franklin

Writer's Life: Waiting, more waiting, and then anxiously waiting.

Hey, I’m all about honesty. If you’ve read even one of my blog posts before, you should be well aware of that. So, now I want to have another one of our good old sit-downs where we take a moment and I hit you with a truth bomb.
I am no less anxious now than I was when I didn’t have an agent. I still check my emails an unnatural amount of times during the day.
I know that may seem a little hard to believe, but it’s 100% true. How can this be? It’s simple. Having an agent has opened the doors for my work to be seen by editors and publishing houses that I typically would not have access to. (Yay!) Having an agent gives me some muscle, if you will, a support system, and a sounding board.
Having an agent has not given me access to a magical fast lane in which my work ascends to the top of an editor’s email queue and said editor then falls over herself at the chance to bask in the glow of my manuscript.
Nope! I still anxiously await to get good news. Even the good news that I wait for has changed. While I would love to only get showered with contracts, it is also a treasure when an editor takes some time out to offer notes on a manuscript and/or even agrees to review it if I’m interested in making some changes.
Waiting is hard at any stage of the writing journey. If it helps, know that you’re not waiting alone. And while you are waiting, use your time wisely. Hone your craft. Experiment with your writing. Do a bit of reading. Take a class. Take a minute away from writing and live. (Yes, imagine the fresh influence on your writing when you’ve had an awesome experience.)
What’s really helped me? I’ve buddied up with other writers who are pretty much on the same leg of this journey, and help encourage each other. We vent to each other. We support each other. We pretty much remind each other that we’re not alone. In all honesty, they are my anxiety cushion so that when I reach out to my agent, I seem like I have it halfway together.
Find a buddy, and buckle up. The path to publication is an unpredictable ride.

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Writer’s Life: Waiting, more waiting, and then anxiously waiting.

Hey, I’m all about honesty. If you’ve read even one of my blog posts before, you should be well aware of that. So, now I want to have another one of our good old sit-downs where we take a moment and I hit you with a truth bomb.
I am no less anxious now than I was when I didn’t have an agent. I still check my emails an unnatural amount of times during the day.
I know that may seem a little hard to believe, but it’s 100% true. How can this be? It’s simple. Having an agent has opened the doors for my work to be seen by editors and publishing houses that I typically would not have access to. (Yay!) Having an agent gives me some muscle, if you will, a support system, and a sounding board.
Having an agent has not given me access to a magical fast lane in which my work ascends to the top of an editor’s email queue and said editor then falls over herself at the chance to bask in the glow of my manuscript.
Nope! I still anxiously await to get good news. Even the good news that I wait for has changed. While I would love to only get showered with contracts, it is also a treasure when an editor takes some time out to offer notes on a manuscript and/or even agrees to review it if I’m interested in making some changes.
Waiting is hard at any stage of the writing journey. If it helps, know that you’re not waiting alone. And while you are waiting, use your time wisely. Hone your craft. Experiment with your writing. Do a bit of reading. Take a class. Take a minute away from writing and live. (Yes, imagine the fresh influence on your writing when you’ve had an awesome experience.)
What’s really helped me? I’ve buddied up with other writers who are pretty much on the same leg of this journey, and help encourage each other. We vent to each other. We support each other. We pretty much remind each other that we’re not alone. In all honesty, they are my anxiety cushion so that when I reach out to my agent, I seem like I have it halfway together.
Find a buddy, and buckle up. The path to publication is an unpredictable ride.

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My writing. My baby. My fitted sheet?

I know lots of people who consider their writing to be their babies. I’ve had students say it. I have writing friends that say it. I understand that you give birth to an idea. You nurture it and watch it grow. Then, you send it out into the world, hoping that it can not only survive but thrive. It makes sense.
But, I’m not one of those people. I can’t be. If I did, my writing would probably never leave my computer screen. When you think about all he eyes that view your work even before it’s released to the public,it’s a scary thought. I am just now about to put my kids into daycare, and it’s causing all kinds of feelings on the inside. (Naturally, I’ll say more about that when it actually happens.)
I’m not saying that I don’t care deeply about my writing. I’m pretty sure that most writers do. (How else could you harness the energy to relentless write, revise, and repeat?) For me to fully invest in the writing process, I have to think of my writing as a fitted sheet. (I bet you didn’t see that coming.)
If I try to do it quickly, I cannot fold a fitted sheet to save my life. (Let’s be honest. I can barely do it slowly.) I have to really concentrate on it, and I always try multiple times in order to come up with something that I wouldn’t be ashamed to have someone else see. Shame? Yes! That keeps me far away from the “I can write this in one draft” mindset.
No, Ashley. No you cannot.
The fitted sheet mentality ensures that I get critiques and review my writing with a critical lens rather than a rose-colored one. Besides, you can’t have everyone in you linen closet with things all in disarray.
 
 

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Love yourself and your writing.

pexels-photo-261749.jpegWho do you write for? Do you write for yourself, or do you write for your audience? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Either way, I’m sure you have expectations for your writing and the minds you hope to nourish and engage.
Now here’s a question: What are you doing to nourish yourself?
(Think about that as you continue to read.)
It is common practice to tell writers to write every day. I don’t agree with that. While I do believe that you should write often, I think that writing every day is overkill. Take some time to let ideas bloom. Take some time and have a new experience. After all, it’s always great to be able to pull ideas from your very own experiences.
Instead of watching my kids play yesterday, as tired as I was, I skipped with them. We had a foot race. We drew in the dirt. Think of how much better my descriptions would be describing those things now than before I actively did them. Even beyond helping me to writer better scenes or descriptions, I had fun! I was living in the moment.
At this stage in my writing journey, I’ve found that I’m always trying to live beyond the moment. Sound weird? Here’s what I mean: I am always fretting about my next move.
Maybe I should do another round of revisions. Will I need another critique of my WIP? Who should I get to critique it? Ooh, I wonder if that idea I had this morning would sell well with a wide audience. I wonder if my topics are too niche and I need to branch out.
This means that I am usually glued to my phone in some way, full of angst. I am malnourished. I have not been doing enough to nourish myself.
So, back to our question: What are you doing to nourish yourself?
Hopefully, you’ve struck a better work/life balance than I have. However, if you and I are in the same boat, let’s paddle out of this situation by seeing what we can do:

  • Unplug! If it’s weekly, biweekly, or monthly, have a tech-free day to help reconnect with our surroundings.
  • Pamper yourself! Go fishing. Have a spa day. Put on fuzzy slippers and binge watch your favorite show.
  • Write yourself a note. It doesn’t have to be long. Let yourself know that you are proud of yourself. Save it for a cruddy day.
  • Big or small, have an adventure. Go on a road trip. Try a new ice cream place. There’s nothing like the excitement of a new experience. Bottle it up until the next time you unplug.

Just as you promise to make time for your writing, promise to make time for yourself. I will do the same.
 

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When Distraction becomes Fruitful

I have focused goals for this year. It took me less than a week to get distracted. To be fair, I was only distracted for a few days. I saw a call for children’s TV pitches, and one of sought after themes just so happened to align with an idea I’d been fooling around with.
Do I know anything about pitching a children’s TV series? Nope! Did I let that stop me from seriously considering this? Nope! I won’t keep you in suspense. I decided against actively pursuing the opportunity.
The surprise? I got my idea out of my head and it actually started to take shape (and make sense)! I’ve always considered fresh looking at something with fresh eyes as meaning taking a break from it and returning or having someone else take a look at it. Today, my fresh eyes came in the form of envisioning my idea in a different medium. I actually visualized it. (I oddly stared at my TV while it was turned off, but what works; right?)
I can proudly say that I’m more motivated than ever to continue writing on this #MuseMonday.

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Storystorm: PiBoIdMo 2.0

storystorm_participant Today is the first day of StoryStorm. You may be more familiar with its previous name: PiBoIdMo. Tara Lazar is once again bringing the goods, and this time, with the move of the initiative from its November time slot, we can all start off our year in the best possible way: with hopeful creativity and a supportive community.
Sure, StoryStorm is for writers, but non-writers can benefit from the principles. Write down a bunch of things that interest you. Write down one thing a day. Here’s another twist: take the time to write down something that makes you happy every day for a month. Keep these items in a jar and refer back to them on a day when you’re down or when you’re in a funk.
Really, whatever you decide to do or not do this year, make it count. Don’t shortchange yourself. There’s only one you, and 2016 (if nothing else) taught us that how long we have on Earth is unknown. Do what makes you happy. Let the smile on your face be so genuine that it infects others. Be the light in the world you want to see. If we all did that, imagine how bright things would be.

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What 2016 did for me

Let’s take a look at what my 2016 writing goals were:
That being said, I have some writing expectations for 2016. I expect to write at least 12 picture book drafts. That is a lofty goal. If it wasn’t there wouldn’t be a 12X12 group. I don’t need cheerleaders like that. I’m sure that works for some folk, but a big, organized group would probably do me more harm than good at this point. Why? I hate when people feel left out, so I always feel obligated to respond or help or lend an “ear.” I’m not going to get much written if I keep letting myself get distracted.
(That’s an excerpt from my old blog, in case you were wondering.) Did I write 12 picture books? I did! I’d also had a goal to write a MG novel. Did I do that? Nope. I started one but didn’t like it. It has been abandoned for now.
What else did 2016 have in store for me? 2 floods, moving twice, and finding out I have carpal tunnel in both arms after busting my butt from trying to recover from the floods. I also landed an agent thanks to a Twitter pitch party.
Clearly, this was a rough year. However, I learned a very important lesson: I am stronger than I thought. We never really know our limitations or the depths of our strength until life really lets us have it.
If I can strive to meet my writing goals after losing nearly everything in a flood and living with my family in a room at my mother-in-law’s house, I will continue to seek that same inner strength as I approach 2017.
So what did 2016 do for me? It taught me that I am as awesome as I strive to be. I surpass awesomesauce. I’m at like awesomeroux level. (smile)
 
 
 

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Writing Distractions Part 2 (focusing on my own work)

Since getting the double carpal tunnel diagnosis, I’ve pulled back a great deal on how much I’m actually on the computer. Aside from writing, I solely work online. This means that I am always typing.
It has helped, but I have had to make the hard decision to “rough it” for a while and not teach as many classes as I have been. I’m taking a term off from one school. It’s the first time I’ve done this. I worked up the time they wheeled me down the hall to have a c-section both times.
I am still going to teach one class, but it doesn’t start until mid January. Work is a necessity, but it also keeps me from writing as much as I would like. I think it’s important to realize that we have to give our writing the importance that it deserves. If we treat it like a hobby,  or something that’s not a priority, I think that shows in our work.
Anyway, this newfound (forced) break will give me a little bit of extra time. I plan to take advantage of it and solely focus on my own writing.
Yup, I won’t be doing any new critiques whatsoever starting this week and lasting until mid-January. I have a NF WIP that I plan on sinking my teeth into, and I can’t wait.

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My battle with rhyme

I have some pretty random writing goals. Yes, I primarily want to write picture books, but i have a pretty big writing goal that includes that. I want to get one of everything published. I want to publish a MG, NF, an article, etc. I’d even wanted to get an academic article, but they keep switching up APA on me, and I’m too lazy for that.
What does that have to do with anything? Writing a rhyming picture book is on my list of writing goals. I am proud to say that I’m getting better with it.No, really!
I went from an okay story with erratic rhyme. Then I had a pretty good story, but the rhyme seemed forced. Now I have a pretty good story, but the rhyme is leading the story too much.
That looks like progress to me.
So, what did I do to fix my most recent issue with rhyme? I first sent my manuscript to Rate Your Story. Their feedback is extremely helpful. Then, I read my manuscript one time and sat it aside. I wrote down (yes, by hand) what story elements I needed to tighten and brainstormed some solutions. After that, I wrote a new manuscript. I pretty much only kept two characters from the original. Now, I’ve sent this most recent manuscript to my critique partner. Where’d I get this particular critique partner? He’s actually one of my favorite partners I found through the KidLit411 Manuscript Swap group on Facebook.
Make those connections, my friends, and keep on tweaking those manuscripts.

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Writing Distractions

As a writer who wants to do big things, it’s easy to become distracted. I’m sure I’m not alone. We’re supposed to build an author platform, right? That means I need to be on social media, right? We should always work to hone our craft, right? That means I need to take more classes. Writing in isolation is garbage. That means I need to be an active participant in the writing community, right?
It’s really easy to get caught up in the non-writing side of writing. I just recently had to check myself about this. I love contests. I love interacting. I love a great deal of the extras. However, if I’m not being productive as a writer (you know, with an actual increase in my word count to show for it), I have to be honest with myself about not being on task. Then I have to fix it.
 

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