Ashley Franklin

Snowballs, Icebergs, and Reality Checks of Writing

To those of you currently battling snow of epic proportions, I apologize if the title alone made you roll your eyes. However, I promise that no other title was better suited. Compared to others, my writing journey is still in the beginning stages. Yes, I have had some wins along the way, but in regards to time, I haven’t been at this for multiple years.
Snowballs
When you see announcements of others striking multiple book deals, it is easy to loudly applaud them while internally wishing you could pelt them with an arsenal of snowballs. After all, you want to take them down, not actually hurt them. It’s hard to not be jealous. You want your name announced. You want your book on shelves. You want a spot on the illustrious bookshelf of the chosen few.
But, here’s something to keep in mind: While you were busy wallowing in your melting snowball arsenal, you missed all of the grunt work that someone else was doing.
Icebergs
Ah, the iceberg of success. If you’ve ever tried to reach any type of goal, this image should be burned into your brain. As writers who have not yet tasted the sweet fruit of success (and the type and taste of said fruit will vary from writer to writer), we must keep in mind that we are likely unaware of the setbacks, missteps, and failures that another writer has had to endure. We are likely too much in awe of acquisitions announcement to even think about this sometimes.
Reality Checks
As much as you want a rea l check, don’t discount the importance of a good ole reality check. For me, I had to ask myself if I was doing all that I could to improve my craft. Was I seeking enough critiques from quality critique partners? If I wasn’t happy with the critiques I was receiving, was I actively seeking to get better feedback elsewhere? Was I using my time wisely? Was I paying attention to what was selling? Was I using mentor texts?
See, there are plenty of things to do to make sure that you’re crafting the best manuscripts that you can. Besides, I don’t want to just be on a bookshelf. I want to leave a mark on the entire library. Back to work!
 

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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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I'm published, but it wasn't for Kidlit

So how does an aspiring Kidlit author end up with an article published in a magazine? It’s simple: I needed something to do while waiting to hear back from my picture book manuscripts. I’ve said before that there is a lot of waiting is involved, and sometimes that waiting can result in a no. Trust me, if I’d received a solid yes by now, you would have already heard about it.
Beyond trying not to dwell on waiting to hear word back from my picture book manuscripts, I wanted to say something. Everyone has a post-election opinion. I had something to say too. I wanted to say it. It honestly helped me to collect my own thoughts.
I feel lucky. That was my first-ever article pitch, and it was accepted. 2016 has been a rough year for me, but it has definitely had its moments of greatness. I’ll be sure to recap as we come closer to the end of the year.
If you haven’t read it and are curious, here’s my article on why I refuse to fearfully remove my hijab.
 

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What now? Promise to keep pushing!

I’ll get right to it. Many of us are upset or downright distraught over the election results. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We have that right. Here is my only plea:

Let’s not become paralyzed in our fears or frustrations.

Continue to do what it is you always do, but be more mindful. If you’re a writer, write the world you want to see. Write the normal that you wish for and make it the new normal. Strive to get marginalized voices out of the margins.
If you’re a parent, help your kids to recognize the beautiful array of people and cultures and lifestyles that call this country home.
Overall, everyone can show compassion. Show love. Let’s keep it real. If you honestly dislike a group of people, find out why. Could it be that you don’t really know any of them as individuals? Could it be that you fear what you don’t know or understand? Could it be that you fear change?
I find it a good practice to check myself. Maybe that’s something each of us can do. Let’s check ourselves. Check our biases and fears. When we learn and accept more about ourselves, it may be easier to love and accept others.
Keep pushing to be great, and as a collective, we might just achieve that greatness in America that we seek. I promise I will do my part. How about you?
 

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I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, and that's okay.

I had been going back and forth about NaNoWriMo. I love the solidarity that it brings. I love the fire it lights under people. I’ve participated twice.
Initially, I was going to participate just because it’s time for it. I realized that’s not a good enough reason. My current writing goals aren’t leading towards a full-length novel right now. What am I currently doing?

  1. Picture book revisions
  2. Early reader revisions
  3. Developing a chapter book
  4. Taking the CBA’s Chapter Book Alchemist course

I think that’s plenty. I love the dependability of NaNoWriMo. Hey, I may even participate next year if the timing aligns with my writing goals. As is the strategy for much of this journey, I’ll just wait and see what happens.
If you are participating, best of luck to you! NaNoWriMo is everything you make it out to be. The more effort you put into it, the more you will get out of it. You can do it!
If you’re not participating, what are your writing goals for November?
 
 

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Moving. My Birthday. My 1st Sockibration.

We’re moving! Louisiana has tried to drown us for the last time. Who moves on their birthday, right? Hey, life happens. That’s the wonderful thing about it. It’s still happening for me. I am 32 today. Little kid me would be absolutely perplexed if we met face to face. My life is not going at all the way she planned out. I am not working as a famous journalist, living in a huge city, free of kids and all things boring. But guess what, there are a few things little kid me hadn’t considered:

  1. I genuinely hate big cities.
  2. I love writing fiction.
  3. I am good at working from home.
  4. I’m not as bad as I thought at this whole mom/wife thing.

Okay, 4 is still debatable on most days, but whatever.
I may not be where I want to be financially or physically right now, but I am working to be in a good mental space. What’s my birthday wish? To be content. To be better at appreciating the little things and to see how big their value can actually be.
Speaking of little things, that leads me to Sockibration. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know wonderful people in many online interaction. Particularly, one of my coworkers from a college I still work for is AMAZING! We bonded over our random, and often ridiculous for no reason, life experiences. Despite now knowing each other for years, on Monday we discovered our birthdays were just days apart. That’s how I was introduced to Sockibration. She sends socks to her friends in celebration of her birthday, friendship, and solidarity. It is one of the most random things that I’ve ever been a part of, but I like it. Here are the socks:
sockibration-socks
 
 

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It's not a competition, but it is.

Having a writer friend is awesome when you are a writer as well. You have someone who understands what it’s like to work endlessly throughout the day and still sometimes feel like you’ve done nothing. You have someone to maybe bounce ideas off of. You have someone who knows when you need a little extra support and when you need space to vent.
It can be quite the emotional ride when you are sharing in someone else’s successes and setbacks. There may even come a time when you have to admit that you are a tad bit jealous of someone else’s success.
After all, haven’t you worked just as hard, if not harder? Haven’t you attended just as many workshops, conferences, and inspired gatherings? How many agents are even still open to queries? How many books do publishers even want to publish this year? What about you? When is it going to be your turn? It’s not fair!
Well, you’re right. It’s not.
The weirdest thing happened when I signed with my agent. I was over the moon excited, but I also felt a bit guilty. While at first I thought that was crazy weird, maybe it’s not. I’m a part of several Facebook writing and kidlit groups, and I’ve seen people post about the hundreds of agents they’ve queried and the years they’ve spent writing and revising their masterpieces.
I wanted them to win too. That’s when I made a realization that I probably should have made earlier on. This is a competition, even if we don’t want it to be. There are several finite variables on the path to publishing, and there are a great deal of us with the same goal.
There’s nothing that I can change about that. But, there is still something that I can hope for. I hope that when those moments of self-doubt, frustration, and jealousy do happen, that each of us will recognize them for what they are–moments.
Those moments will pass. Don’t let them distract you from your upcoming moment when it is your time to shine. That’s the beauty of a spotlight. It highlights us at our best. You know what they say, the best is yet to come. Don’t forget that.
That’s a reminder for me just as much as it is for anyone else.
 

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