Ashley Franklin

StoryStorm 2018…I'm doing it this time.

StoryStorm will always have a special place in my heart because it was one of the first community writing tasks that I did. Back then it was called PiBoIdMo (still not sure of the correct pronunciation), and it was the jumping-off point that helped me to start networking and discovering some of the many writing tools and communities available.
I was still plowing through the previous year’s ideas last year, so I didn’t participate. This year, I’ll be jotting down ideas in my sparkly, new notebook courtesy of one of my best writing buddies, Caitlin LaRue.
I’m a sucker for a new notebook and gel pens. (Don’t mind the stars all over the table. The kids and I are having a glow-in-the-dark party later.)
I love colors, glitter, and sparkle. Maybe that’s a testament to the days when I was absolutely in love with all things Lisa Frank.
While we’re on the subject of mini obsessions, I don’t know who in my Twitter feed posted a color sequins pencil pouch, but I can’t stop thinking about it and it’s taking all I have not to buy it. Well, there goes that. I didn’t make it to the end of the post without buying the horribly ugly yet adorable pencil pouch. But, I used a gift card. (Thanks, Amber!)
I have a laptop and frequently write on my cellphone, but I cannot get away from writing by hand. There’s something about it that makes me feel extra legit. I’m a writer. I have quirks. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was approaching a mini rage yesterday because I wanted a pink pen to do my edits and could only find turquoise and purple. I’d already used those colors when revising earlier sections and wanted a different color. See, now if I’d had my hand sequins pouch, all of my different colored pens would’ve been in one spot. See! I had an obvious need.
Will my unicorn notebook hold the idea of what could be my next big sale? I have no idea. But, I will be in a good mood while writing my StoryStorm ideas in it. And who can really put a price on a good mood?

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On being bad at waiting

I suck at waiting. I am crazy impatient. Guess what you can’t be when you’re working towards being a published writer: impatient. I distinctly remember waiting to hear back from agents as being ridiculously agonizing? I had to stop my emails from getting pushed to my phone.
I didn’t know what to expect after I got an agent. I mean, where’s the backdoor guide to what happens between signing with an agent and getting published? I need that. Here’s what I imagined would happen:
 
Yup. My agent would roll out the red carpet that would lead to my publishing dreams. After all, I had made it! I had been noticed and plucked from the eager writer masses.
That’s not what happened at all. There are levels to this! It’s like a tiered claw machine. I am armed with stories, but I have to yet again get noticed and plucked from the (albeit smaller) masses. It’s a mental marathon.
So, no. Having an agent doesn’t mean that you have someone to roll out a red carpet that leads to your publication dreams. It does mean that you have an ally, an ally that helps you swing over alligator moats, bust through drawbridges, and kick down doors. Obviously, those things take time.

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Good critiques matter!

 

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A critique’s purpose is to help. Don’t get caught up in your feelings.

 
If you’re a writer, and you’re on the fence about sharing your work, I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my students:

Get over yourself!

Why? A good critique can help you take your writing to the next level. Yes, many talk about the overall importance of critiques. Let’s be real. If getting high quality feedback wasn’t important, people wouldn’t be willing to pay for it. With so many writers wanting and willing to get their work read, you’d think paid critiques wouldn’t be so popular.

So, why are they? It could be for the simple fact that people expect detailed, thorough, comprehensive feedback when they do critiques. Paying for one increases your chances of that actually happening. Hey, I may jump on that bandwagon years down the line. I have years of teaching and tutoring experience. Still, I wouldn’t dare ask someone to pay me for a critique until I have some published books under my belt. (On that note, if you do pay for a critique, make sure it’s from someone who has a solid reputation and some credentials to stand on.)

Still keeping it real, some critiques you get during your writing journey are likely to be garbage. The comments may be super vague. That’s a totally appropriate reason to give your critiquer the virtual stank eye, but resist the urge. If you give an awesome critique of that person’s manuscript, you just may encourage him/her to up their game in the future. After all, we’re writers. Aren’t we supposed to grow in our craft?

 

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What's the tub journal I keep talking about?

Okay, so if you’ve been following me on Twitter for more than a week, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point you’ve seen me mention a tub journal. I’m sure that many of you can relate to feeling like you have to multitask or things will never get done. Busy parents, I know you especially know that trips to the bathroom are sometimes all the alone time that you get. (Let’s be real. Some of our kids hunt us down in the bathroom too.)
Some people say they get their best ideas when in the shower. My most dominant shower thought is something along the lines of “Ugh, what am I going to do with my hair today?” Then is all spirals down to wondering what the kids are doing and what snacks need to be replenished, and what’s in the fridge to even cook, etc. Clearly, the shower isn’t my ideal clear thinking space.
Behold! The tub journal was born due to a lack of time, selective focus, and ideas that never quit. In reality, it’s a legal pad that I jot down all of my ideas. I don’t use it anywhere else unless I’m typing up my notes off of it. That’s the thing, since the tub journal can get wet at any moment, I always make sure to type up my notes before the next tub journal session. There’s no need to take a chance of good ideas getting washed away.
What about you? Do you have any odd note-taking habits? Surely I’m not the only one.
 
 

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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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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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