A Quick Check-In

04/20/2011 at 4:17 pm (Writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Since I was too taxed to do this on Monday, I figured I’d just update anyone who is reading my blog on the status of the novel.  This weekend, I finally went through and added character growth to my main character in chapter 7.  So, to celebrate that, I stopped working on it and went back to working on the novel I’m writing with my sister.

On that novel, we are nearing the big, climatic end before the first draft is finished!  Yay!  After that, we have some major changes to make so that the whole plot makes sense.  Fun times, fun times.  But I am looking forward to making a spiffy map of the city that the story takes place in.

On a only slightly related note, I went to Borders on it’s 2nd to last day of life, and bought 10 books.  Later, I might take a picture of all the books I bought from them since they started filing for bankruptcy to show you what an addict I am.  I’m going to miss that store, but I’ll probably find it easier now to save up more money to go to a writing conference someday.

Other than all that, my weekend was pretty uneventful.  I was sick on Friday, spent Saturday writing and book buying, and spent Sunday planning out the end to the novel I’m working on with my sister.  But I was thinking the other day, what kind of person in real life inspires me to write about them most.  Do I feel more like inventing a character similar to a quirky friend I love, or that annoying, jerk I’m stuck seeing all the time that with a little exaggeration would make a good antagonist.  How about you?  What are your thoughts on this?

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Zombie Tuesdays

04/12/2011 at 4:27 pm (Writing, Zombie Tuesday) (, , , , , , , , , , )

So I have decided to start doing something slightly new with my blog.  I was thinking about how I can only talk about so many different writing subjects per a week, and how it might be nice to spice things up a bit with some zombies.

 

The funny thing is, I don’t really read much or watch much with zombies, and I’ve only ever written one short story for Halloween that had any of the undead in it.  But whenever I can’t sleep at night, or need something to occupy my thoughts during a long workday, I think about what I would do in certain worst-case scenarios, and I can’t think of anything that’s worse than the zombie apocalypse.

 

Anyways, to start off this zombie Tuesday, I thought I’d share what I wrote for my Self Review at the end of last year.  Unfortunately, my boss made me redo it, but here is my original self-review:

Kati, Administrative Zombie Slayer

Self-Review

 

Throughout this last year the zombie infestation has gotten more than a little out of control, and whereas it’s my job to deal with the undead pests as Administrative Zombie Slayer, I find that the alarm system that was set up is more distracting than helpful, and the shotgun pellets are starting to get expensive.

 

We have tried the freezing method, but then the sales team complains: “Oh, I can’t work under these conditions,” or “It’s so cold, I can’t feel my limbs,” so we are forced to turn on the heat again, and the zombies thaw and start to try and chew on anything with flowing blood, which does include the sales force.

 

I therefore recommend stronger firepower, and maybe booby-trapping the perimeters of our office.  Sure the explosions might be louder than the alarms were, and sure there might be some property damage, but hey, at least then we’ll be able to reduce the zombie infestation while we try to sell mats over here.

 

In between my efforts of battling the undead, I do enter in all the orders, answer all the questions about tracking, payments, and medical research on zombie infested bites, and I feel I perform these tasks rather admirably considering the circumstances.

 

I do feel it was a large drawback when we had to let the cyborg go do to an infected bite, but alas, I agree that having a zombie cyborg running about the office is quite terrifying.  That was a huge dampener on moral, and the troll that was hired in the cyborg’s place just isn’t doing it justice.  But hey, you work with what you’ve got.  And the troll doesn’t complain too much about the zombies’ goo when it comes to the messier aspects of the job.

 

Things that I feel I could improve upon for this coming year are, I think I would be able to get more filing done if I had stronger firepower along with the booby-traps that will hopefully be set by then.  And I’m not talking about little stuff, but rather flamethrowers, and maybe a mini-uzi or two.  That way I spend less time reloading the shotgun, and more time firing, therefore giving me more time to enter in orders and do some serious filing.

 

If the sales representatives complain about the noises of battle, I suggest we replace them with some of the zombies that have finally been tamed and trained to do a little bit of phone conversation.  Sure, we won’t be able to allow customers into the office anymore, since there’s the risk of those zombies going berserk and trying to eat them, but in the end, I think it will improve morale and general productivity.

 

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Another Lazy Weekend

04/11/2011 at 7:46 pm (Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This past weekend was another rough one for me when it came to getting much writing or reading done.  I headed up to Sacramento as soon as I got out of work on Friday (which is why I’ll be doing my Friday book recommendation later today), and we played “Heroes of Might and Magic V” for the rest of the day.

I know, I know, playing a computer game is no excuse for not getting my work done.  But I really love “Heroes of Might and Magic III” and “V” is very similar.

Anyway, Saturday I ran 16 miles.  My sisters, brother and law, boyfriend, and I are getting ready for the Big Sur Marathon in May, so we’re going to start tapering now.  Our 22-mile run last weekend was our longest run until then.  After the run on Saturday, I didn’t really get too much more done for the rest of the day.  When I got home that evening I pretty much just crashed out in bed and had some weird dreams.

Sunday was when my critique group met.  I spent the morning re-reading the sections that we were critiquing that day, and the critique itself took up most of my evening.  So when I did get back home again, I didn’t feel like doing too much else other than reading a little more of “the Unidentified.”

My sister and I did start drawing out a city map for our novel before the critique happened, and we did start talking about how we’re going to wrap up some of out major plot lines.  Also, as I was walking over to the coffee shop we’re we meet every three weeks for our critique I saw baby geese!  They were so cute and fuzzy!  Here’s a picture I took of them (although they are almost too small to see):

The final think I accomplished this weekend was that I found a picture of me where I: 1.) don’t look like a zombie, 2.) am not doing that stupid lithe fake smile that I tend to do in photos, and 3.) am not purposefully making a stupid face at the camera.  So that is not my profile picture.

How is everyone else doing?  Did any new and exciting news happen while I disappeared from the blogging world?

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Two Heads Are Better than One…Unless One Head is Rabid and Spiteful

04/06/2011 at 7:42 pm (Writing) (, , , , , , , )

I know, that was a really long post title, but I figured today it might be fun to talk a little bit about the perks and pitfalls of working with another writer on a novel, or at least the perks and pitfalls that I’ve come across so far.

 

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but right now I’m working on a novel with my sister.  We both hope to be published someday, we both mostly write young adult fantasy novels, and we both like having strong, female protagonists.  So pretty much, we’re a good fit to be working together.

 

Before starting this novel, my sister and I talked about writing one together for a long time.  Then I had this idea that I was running by her that I originally was going to write on my own, and a light bulb went off, and I asked her if she wanted to write it with me.  Since then, my idea has merged with her warped imagination and evolved to become our idea.

 

One of the big perks about writing a novel with her is that she is a more experienced writer than I am.  I’m not ashamed of this fact since I did spend a large part of my life trying to perfect my drawing, not my writing skills, while she’s wanted to be a writer pretty much her entire life.  And since we are working on this first draft together, it feels more like a second, or even a third draft to me.

 

But one of the pitfalls that I keep stumbling into working with her is that she likes to throw completely unexpected characters and side plots my way that we never talked about.  How is a girl supposed to work under these conditions?  Plus, I’m one of those people who likes to outline and plan out my novels before hand, with the occasional unexpected scene that writes its own way into my story.  My sister on the other hand, likes to write stories by the seat of her pants.  So that means while I’m working with her, I have to be prepared for anything she might throw at me.

 

Even that particular pitfall isn’t all that bad though.  It just means that she adds more flourish and depth to out story while I try to keep us somewhat grounded to the main plot and keep it moving along.  All and all, I would say our styles work well together, and it’s nice being able to take a small break from a story I’m working on and still know that progress is being made on it.  So the only real pitfall that I’ve actually come across is that I spend more time with this new novel rather than fixing up my old one.

 

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The End

04/05/2011 at 5:45 pm (Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I don’t know why it is, but the end is the trickiest section of my novel that I’ve had to write, and believe me, that’s saying a lot!  I’ve reworked it many times, and I’m still not satisfied with it.  Maybe I find it so hard to do because most of the stories I wrote in middle school and highschool never made it to the end, so I haven’t had as much practice with it.  Or maybe it’s just the endings really are just plain tricky.

I know that I’ve read many reviews of books where people’s biggest complaints have been that the book had a disappointing ending.  I’ve even read a couple of books that I really liked, but then I got to the end, and it was a huge let down.  So I’m thinking from now on, when I write about my book recommendations on Friday, one of the things I will point out is whether or not I feel the book had a sufficiently good ending, and nothing like: …and they lived happily ever after.  The End.

And while we’re on the topic of endings, “The Secret Hour” by Scott Westerfeld did not have one that saved the book from a three star rating.  I liked the book, but I didn’t love it.

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Development & Growth

03/31/2011 at 9:44 pm (Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Not all that long ago, my critique group ripped apart…I mean gave some nice, helpful suggestions for chapters 7 and 8 of my novel.  The main suggestion that I took away from the whole thing was that my main character should have undergone more character growth and development by that point.  So I went home afterwards, shed a few tears over the fact that my novel is not perfect, YET, then I sat down and started thinking about character growth in other stories I’ve read and loved, and how I should show it in my novel.

One of the books I’ve read that I feel has some good character development is “Alanna: the First Adventure” by Tamora Pierce.  In this book, Alanna has to develop confidence in her abilities as a warrior, and face off with the bully who torments her throughout most of the beginning of it.  A little later in the book, she has to face her fear of her own magic in order to save a friend.

It doesn’t sound too complicated until I start thinking about how I should do something similar in my novel.  Also, on a side note, if you have not read the Alanna series (“Lioness Quartet”) you are really missing out.  I loved those books along with her “Wild Magic” books as I know I’ve mentioned before.

Now for character growth in my book, I would say that the biggest fault that my main character has is her inability to get close to people and develop real relationships.  Sure she gets along with everyone all right, but there’s no one she would actually call a friend.  So, I guess the easiest way to show growth is maybe have her admit to having developing feelings for the guy she works for.

Another option would be to give her some sort of fear or weakness to overcome towards the beginning of my novel, but I’m not sure I really want to go and do that since I like my main character the way she is and that may take a whole lot more reworking than is probably necessary.  I might take another look at my beginning later to see what faults she has to work with though, but I do think having her develop a real relationship with someone would be the way to go.  Has anyone else run into this problem while working on their novels too?

Just a quick side note to all my potential readers, I did not actually cry after my critique…ninja assassins don’t cry.  And another note, my critique group is really great, and I appreciate all the help and advise they have given me.

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The New Kid on the Blog

03/31/2011 at 3:16 am (Blogging, Social Media, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

As you all know, I am really, very new at this whole social media thing.  So, pretty much anything anyone has to teach me about the blogging world is much appreciated.

Earlier today I was doing my little, daily drunken stumble from blog post to blog post (although I wasn’t really drinking, so it was more like a sober stumble), and I came across Kristen Lamb’s blog post “Go Hard or Go Home – Blogging & Branding.”  Reading this post was very helpful, but I wasn’t much more than a tenth of the way through when I started thinking, “crap!  I’m doing something totally wrong!”

It might be common sense to a lot of people, but I was not aware that my writing blog’s name should have my actual name in it.  I would have saved myself a lot of time and trouble just calling it “Kati Bartkowski’s Blog” rather than fretting over what I felt might be the ideal name.  Since I am, as I mentioned earlier, new at this, I won’t kick myself too hard over it.

Fixing this little issue should be easy enough.  When I am through writing this post, I will go ahead and put my name in my blog and my user name, and from this day forth, all my posts will have Kati Bartkowski listed in all the tabs.

The goal here is to see if I can get my blog seen before all my old Judo tournament results and slow race times when anyone tries to google my name.  Wish me luck on this venture, because I’m definitely going to need it.

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Inspiration

03/30/2011 at 1:39 am (Writing) (, , , , )

I’m sure if you’ve stumbled across my new blog, that you have read some sort of book at some point that had totally blown you away, and made you go “gee, I want to write like that!”

Maybe that book had some stellar characters like in Patricia Wrede’s “Mairelon the Magician,” or maybe that book had developed a world that you could completely see yourself living in like Harry Potter, or maybe the book was just a fantastic read in every sense of the word, like in Elizabeth Bunce’s “Starcrossed,” (granted, both “Mairelon the Magician” and Harry Potter are fantastic reads in every sense of the word too) it doesn’t matter though, what matters is that you were inspired to write!

I’ve read tons of great books through out my life, and some of them I’ve even read obsessively over and over again.  But if I had to name one author that inspired me to write, that author would have to be Tamora Pierce.  It was after reading her “Lioness Quartet” and “Wild Magic” series’ that I wanted to try and create a world of my own.

Granted, when I first started writing stories I just did it to pass the time and entertain myself.  I never imagined that I’d someday be taking writing as seriously as I do my drawing.  But now that I do, I’m thankful for all the books that took me to far off lands, on adventures, and I know that the experiences are what are helping to inspire me to write today.

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Feeling Like a Writer

03/28/2011 at 3:11 am (Writing) (, , , , )

The day has finally come.  I’ve completed what feels like 10,012 drafts and am now holding onto a printed manuscript of my novel.  So I flip it open to a random page, and what do I see?  A typo.  (Sigh) Oh well.  Looks like I still have a little work to do before beginning the complicated and nerve racking querying process.  But even still, holding onto a printed copy of my 88,000-word story, I feel for the first time like a real writer.

I never expected to be a writer when I was young.  Sure, I liked to write, and I loved to read, but I had always visualized myself illustrating the covers of books, not writing the interior of them.  My idols were Michael Whelan and Brom, not Mercedes Lackey and Tamora Pierce.

That’s not to say that I didn’t respect my favorite authors and their art of creating whole worlds with words alone, I just didn’t expect to be doing that kind of art myself.  But now that I have almost a complete novel I have written at my fingertips, I feel in some ways more excited and proud than I have after drawing one of my master pieces, and I only hope to get a chance to share my novel with everyone who would be interested in reading it.

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