I Launched a Company : All About Freedom Meadow Media

Freedom Meadow Media - Logo

Yes, it’s true & it’s awesome : I am now the proud owner of my dream publishing company, Freedom Meadow Media! This company will publish a variety of materials : books, films, music, zines, art, photography, etc. I will mainly focus on publishing & republishing my own materials for now, but in the future I plan on expanding to acting as the publisher for other people’s media too.

The Inception

Around three years ago, I had the idea for starting a publishing company. By this point, I had already been self-publishing for several years (April 4th this year marked the 5th anniversary of me publishing my debut book, Strange Occurrences. I was 16 when I self-published it.) After thinking about a variety of names, I decided on Freedom Meadow Media, & even drew a draft version of the logo, which I’ve had taped to my wall in my prosperity corner of my bedroom / house for years. At first, I had considered names such as “Freedom Meadow Records” or “Freedom Highway Records”, but ending up scrapping these ideas pretty early on.

Every year, I would put “Start my company” on my list of goals for the year, but every year, it would get pushed out of the way. Sometimes this was due to lacking the money to start my company, but admittedly, a lot of times I procrastinated launching my business because I feared that it would be too difficult or confusing of a process. At the end of last year, I decided that I was just going to go to it. I put in the necessary research, & through a process of trial & error, found the process a lot easier than I had believed it would be. This isn’t to say it wasn’t filled with some challenges & hurdles, like figuring out which kind of business license to get, & whether I needed a DBA (“Doing Business As” license), but I’m so glad that I prevailed in this!

Why I Did It

I wanted to own a company in order to empower myself to have complete creative control over my work as well as playing an integral part in the success of it (rather than relying on a traditional publisher to do these things for me), as well as making it much easier to promote my work as a whole. A be-your-own-hero kind of thing. Ceasing waiting for someone else to say that my work is “good enough” (after seeing how many books with bland plots or or ridiculous writing were published by regular publishing companies, including those which I had submitted my first manuscript to). Deciding for myself that my work was worthy of being published, & giving myself the full power to do so. Uninterested in trying to appease someone who would always find the number of books or songs that I produced in any given year to be “too much”. I wanted to be the one to tell myself “yes” rather than listening to people tell me “no” all the time; the one to give me permission to be as expansively prolific as I wanted to be.

What Does the Name Mean?

A “Freedom Meadow” is a concept I came up with years ago, & has since made its appearance in multiple, multiple poetry books & other media of mine. The idea’s first appearance was in the poem “Running Thru the Fields” in my Spring poetry book, the third volume of my Four Seasons series.

In the poem, the Freedom Meadow begins as such :

running thru the fields, our souls soaring with the fresh breeze of spring / the sun shining brightly overhead, blue sky glimmering above us / I feel so content & happy racing thru the fields of life with you / bright colors flashing past, the colors of tulips & daffodils & daisies & I see Queen Anne’s Lace swaying in the winds of beauty & change / sweeping up everything wonderful & perfect in life & depositing it in this sacred field

this field of beauty is not a physical place / it exists in my mind / you & I both sharing the same dream / this sacred field is the field of my Imagination, a field of Destiny, a field of Dreams, a field of Love, a field of endless Possibilities

Basically, a Freedom Meadow is a place, either real or imaginary, where you feel totally comforted & can believe that you really will be more than okay. A “safe place”. A Freedom Meadow reminds you of somewhere you’ve been, somewhere you wish to be, or a time in your life that feels particularly idyllic & halcyon & special; a place where you can completely be yourself and feel peaceful & happy. It’s a place that you can retreat & feel safe + nurtured when things in your life are stressful or difficult, & a place that you can feel happy & free when things are going great. A Freedom Meadow is a place which exemplifies happiness to you. To me, I see it as being a big beautiful field with a tree house in the middle of it, & a serene, joyful atmosphere. It can be whatever you want though, & you can always change or expand on what it means to you. I also think of it being like the line from Guns ‘n Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine

“Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
where as a child I’d hide,
& pray for the thunder & the rain
to quietly pass me by.”

I love the fact that I have a company based upon this concept. I love the fact that I can say “I’m the CEO of a indie publishing company”, & that I can really call myself an entrepreneur now. I love the fact that I have a company which in the future will provide the same freedoms + environment I nurtured helping other people to achieve their dreams. I love the fact that I made this happen.

P. S. – It would really mean a lot to me if you could check out the Freedom Meadow Media website, follow Freedom Meadow Media on Twitter (I follow back!), like my Freedom Meadow Media’s Facebook page, or follow the Freedom Meadow Media Pinterest account. Thank you!!!

Reflection Upon Five Years of Creative Courage

Strange Occurrences by Ashlee Craft - Cover

Five years ago, I did one of the most frightening, brilliant things I had done in my 16-year existence : hit the “publish” button on Amazon’s Kindle Publishing page, and in that moment, released my first book to the world.

The journey had started long, long before then, when I was 13 years old. I had been coming up with stories & working on a variety of books, mostly about children/teens & their pets, since I was about ten years old. I had completed several books prior to writing Strange Occurrences, each one somewhere around 50 – 70 typed pages. Strange Occurrences originally started as a screenplay I was going to write, but when I realized that to turn it into a film would be an challenging, expensive endeavor, I decided to write a book about the idea instead. My book was going to be about a young teenage girl who got sucked into another dimension, one which would allow her to see other people’s points of view, & understand how her actions fit into the grander scheme of things. This was inspired by watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time, & being awed by the end portion of the film, where George Bailey sees what things would have been like if he’d never been born.

I remember a distinct moment from when I was 13, and walking on the treadmill stationed in my parents’ bedroom. My grandmother had died recently. I decided to incorporate this element into my story, & have the main character’s dying grandmother warn her about the “Strange Occurrences”, something the grandmother had experienced when she was the main character’s age. Originally, the main character’s name was going to be Carol, inspired by the name of Jack Ryan’s wife in the film Hunt for Red October, which I must note, I was OBSESSED with at the time, but eventually decided on Cathy. As I walked on the treadmill, I decided that Cathy would “use walking as a means of escaping from her problems” and traverse her neighborhood with her dog.

Strange Occurrences really began months later, as I sat on the bed in a cheap hotel room, holding the old Dell laptop on my lap, & leaning back on the made bed against a wall of stiff hotel pillows. We were moving to a different house & staying in the hotel while we looked for houses. I described the hotel as being “oppressive, like a dungeon”, & wanted to do something to take my mind off this fact. I remember sitting on the bed, typing the opening lines, looking over at my sister & explaining what I was writing, & my parents coming back inside from retrieving something from the car. This was where I typed those first few pages.


Over the next few months, even as I attended college as a dual-enrollment student, I worked on Strange Occurrences in my spare time. The story took shape, and changed multiple times. After a long, arduous editing process which spanned several months and included both me & my family (including my relatives) reading through my book several times, I finally worked up the courage to start sending off samples to a variety of big-name publishers. Eagerly, I awaited a response, & imagined the perfect-movie-moment in which I would open their letter with trembling hands, & read, “we are interested in publishing your book, and would like you to send us the rest of it”. One day, a letter arrived in the mail, & I opened it. I was both terrified & elated that after weeks of waiting, I’d finally received a response. When I opened it though, I saw the dreaded words, & my spirit temporarily fell : “unfortunately, we are not interested in your manuscript at this time.”  I was temporarily surprised and disappointed by this, but being a confident optimist, I kept thinking, “Maybe the next letter will be a ‘yes’.”. After receiving several rejection letters, I realized that the best course of action would be to take matters into my own hands.

For a long time, I hadn’t been open to the idea of self-publishing a book. This was mostly because I was in love with the fantasy of having an actual publishing house send me a letter telling me they liked what they’d written. Looking back, I was firmly set on having this because I felt like getting a deal with a big publishing house was a very prestigious thing. Furthermore, achieving this would not only prove to myself that I was indeed good at writing, but it would prove to those around me that writing was a legitimate career, & would be the thing which would make me a “real” writer.

a "real" writer


Thankfully, two things happened around this time. (1) My father repeatedly told me about how he thought self-publishing, especially ebooks, was a good idea, & sent me multiple articles about successful authors on Kindle. (2) I was starting to get fed up with waiting for people to give me approval about my books, & I started wondering why I was letting someone else hold me back from doing what I wanted to do. I came to the conclusion that I might as well try self-publishing, & began researching how to make this happen.

To be honest, I procrastinated publishing Strange Occurrences by endlessly editing it. “I just want it to be perfect.” I thought. I kept finding things about it that I could change or improve. “Just one more edit, then it will be done.” I kept saying that, for a few months. Eventually, I realized that I could edit it a thousand times & always find things about it that could be made better, but if I did that, my book would never get published. “You’re afraid of success.” My dad told me. So I got to work on painting the cover, & wrote the book description.

I remember sitting in a kitchen chair one afternoon, sunlight streaming in, & I sketched out the cover for Strange Occurrences on a piece of paper taken from a sketchpad of mine. Once the sketch was perfected, I filled it in with paint. I wanted my sister to photograph me painting it, “to document this moment.”, I told her. A while later, the cover was done. I painted the title words on another piece of paper & added them to the cover image in Photoshop.

After learning about how to format a book, making multiple formatting errors, & finally getting it right, then came the moment when I was on the Kindle publishing page, filling out the information about my book, & uploading my files.

April 4, 2011. It was finally time. I put my cursor over the “Publish” button, took a few deep breaths, & looked around at my family gathered there on the couch. “I’m going to publish it now.” I told them. All my hard work & all the effort I had put into this book was finally coming to life. I didn’t know where I was going by doing this, or what would happen, and even though I didn’t feel entirely ready, I knew inside that I really was. I hit the publish button. A feeling of relief, & of nervousness, filled me, but mostly, it was a feeling of accomplishment. I’d done something awesome, especially for a 16-year-old. I was really doing this. By doing this, I was saying to the world that I believed in myself & in the things I created, & in my opinion, there are few statements as powerful as that.

Shine, Success

In the five years since then, I have written more than 45 books & started a monthly zine which currently includes 10 issues, as well as a variety of albums, blogs, & videos. I’ve written a novel in three days, participated in multiple NaNoWriMo challenges, & been featured on a TV interview with Fox News. These are things that I never would have thought were possible five years ago, but by the mere fact of them happening, it proved to me that I was dedicated and confident enough to make this happen for me. To be a writer. To make my goals happen, without waiting for anyone else to tell me that I was good enough.

Here’s to the five years since then, & the next five years. Here’s to all the people who are just starting out as writers & trying to get people to read their books. Here’s to those who came before me & set the stage, & the ones that encouraged me to go farther. Here’s to the people questioning if their books, their writing, their music, their art, their dreams, are good enough. Here’s to the people tired of waiting for others to tell them it’s okay to take the next step, those who take their goals into their own hands & nurture them & turn them into absolute brilliance, even if it feels messy or amateur.

Here’s to scared, ambitious teen hitting the “Publish” button on her first book & seeing that her dream of being this was possible.

Here’s to courage, in whatever form for you it may take.