Ashley Franklin

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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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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"Every idea ain't a good idea!"

I’m not sure which older person in my life said this to me, but I certainly remember hearing it more than once. I also know that it rings very true.
While we are busy Story Storming our hearts out over the last week, let’s not get bogged down in the details. It’s highly unlikely that you’re in love with every idea that you’ve jotted down. I’m certainly not. But, here’s the thing:

  • I don’t expect to love every idea.
  • I don’t expect to use every idea.
  • I don’t even expect every idea to be good.
  • I do expect to hold on to my list for quite some time.

What’s the point of holding onto ideas you’re not swooning over? Some ideas may merge, mutate, or morph into something really great. Some ideas may springboard you into writing a great project that you had never really considered.
Don’t overthinking thinking at the last minute.

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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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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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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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My Halloweensie Entry: Geraldine’s Boo Debut

I decided yesterday I was going to actually write a story for Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie contest. She has awesome prizes, so why not? So, while the kids are taking their sweet time eating their 2nd breakfast (morning grazers).
The story had to use the words ghost, spider, and moon in some way. It also had to be 100 words or less. Mine is exactly 100 words, excluding the title.
_____________________________________________________________

Geraldine’s Boo Debut

Geraldine Ghost floated out of bed singing a happy little song. Her Halloween scare debut was tonight, and she had to practice her BOO song. When she got to the chorus, she HICCUPED! She hiccupped all day while the sun was high in the sky.
She held her breath. She turned red. HICCUP!
She drank water. She pouted and turned blue. HICCUP!
She sat near a tree, under the gumball moon, when down came a spider.
“BOO!” said the spider, and frightened Geraldine’s hiccups away.
That night, Geraldine floated along the stage, singing her song. It went without a hiccup.
 

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Lemonade anyone?

Life has been pelting me with lemons! I do have carpal tunnel, so I recently had to get those steroid injections in both wrists. That kind of sucked. It put me in a real funk, honestly.
Nothing has really been moving on the publishing front. I’m getting more accustomed to the waiting. I’m not nearly as antsy as I was before. I think it has a great deal to do with the fact that I’m not just sitting around waiting to hear back from editors or publishers.
I’m still revising picture books, and I’m working on a chapter book. If nothing else, I know for a fact that staying busy is key.
Carpal tunnel has slowed me down some, but I’ll just consider it an extended brainstorming session.
 

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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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