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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Weakened from the Weekend

04/04/2011 at 5:11 pm (Moday Check In) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It has now been two days since I’ve posted a new blog post, and what I’ve accomplished in that time is really not as much as I had hoped.  I wanted to adjust my novel so my main character showed the growth she was lacking that I talked about, and I also wanted work on some of the other suggestions that my critique group gave me, but unfortunately, the weekend was not nearly long enough.

 

I did manage to write another section in the novel I’m working on with my sister, so now that is over 50,000 words.  Yay!  And I fixed up a different section of my novel.  It was one of those sections that I thought I had changed a while ago, but must’ve just made a mental note to change it, then promptly forgot.  Oops.

 

It’s actually a scene that I’m quite proud of.  It’s real creepy, was totally not planned at all, and just sort of wrote itself.  But after it wrote itself, I kind of sort of forgot a tiny, little detail that would make the whole thing make sense.  But now it’s all fixed, so I’m happy.  But seriously, the scene gave me chills just writing it, so I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

 

This weekend I read most of “The Secret Hour” by Scott Westerfeld.  Since it’s not a particularly long book I had hoped to finish it, but I’ll just have to do that tonight after I’m done posting this.  I do like the book so far, because it has a really unique idea, but I’m not loving it.  So when I’m done with it, I’m probably not going to go rushing out to buy the next two books in the series, but I’ll talk a bit more about that when I do finish it.

 

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a serious book buying addiction.  It’s even worse than my addiction to Cadberry Cream Eggs!  And sadly, all the Borders within reasonable distance of my apartment are closing down, so I’ll only have a used bookstore and a Barnes & Nobles to feed my addiction.  In the mean time though, I’ve been taking clear advantage of the liquidation sales, and I spent a large part of my Saturday at Borders trying to narrow down how many books to get at that time.  I ended up with four for under $20.  🙂

 

The final thing I did this weekend was run 22 miles.  It was not fun.  The park that I went running in was crowded and hot, and the only thing that made the run alright was that my sisters, and brother and law were suffering with me, and my boyfriend joined us for the first part of it.  That, and I had a Cadberry Cream Egg waiting for me for when the run was over.  But seriously, those 22 miles, and the after affects of them took up pretty much my whole Sunday, and that’s what I blame for my lack of writing at that time.

 

Well, that was pretty much it for me this weekend.  Did anyone else get some good writing or reading in?  Any books they would suggest I look for in Borders before it’s gone?

 

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“Starcrossed” My First Book Review

04/01/2011 at 7:56 pm (book recommendation) (, , , , , , , , , )

"Starcrossed"

“Starcrossed”

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

 

This being my first Friday book recommendation, I’m not exactly sure how I should go about doing this.  What I am sure about is the book I have chosen for today.

 

I finished reading “Starcrossed” about a couple of weeks ago, and I loved it!  I loved it so much that the first opportunity I got after finishing it I jumped online to try and see when the next book was coming out.  But my search was sadly fruitless, and I couldn’t even find the title of the next book, let alone a date it’s supposed to be out by.

 

It’s about a thief named Digger, and she’s pretty much on the run (as a lot of thieves are in fantasy books), but she manages to get herself in as a handmaiden to a noble girl.  While she’s living her double life, one of the nobles finds out about her being a thief, and uses that information to blackmail her into working for him.

 

For those of you who are like me and love a good young adult fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist, pick up “Starcrossed” and give it a read.  You will not be disappointed.  Digger is a great main character, although she can be a little cold at times, do to all the hardships she has had in her past, and she is surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters, all with their own unique, individual personalities.  The setting is very easy to picture, and I find it incredibly fascinating that the world has multiple moons.  I also like how the magic is very important to the story, but it doesn’t overshadow all the other subtle details weaved into the plot.

 

“Starcrossed” caught me a little by surprise.  I was expecting a story that was lighthearted and full of humor, but even though it turned out to be a little darker than I expected, in no way was I disappointed.  I would definitely give his book five out of five stars.

 

I hope this review/recommendation was helpful without giving anything too important away, and I’ll have another book to suggest to read next week!

 

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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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Schedule of Events

03/29/2011 at 12:34 am (Schedule, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Since this is only my second blog post ever, I’m thinking I should come up with some sort of schedule or plan for this blog.  Now I’m not like my sister who likes to send intricately detailed plans in epic long emails.  I’m one of those people who like to make one or two plans then let my mood at the time decide the rest.

So even though I’m writing out a fairly intricate weekly blogging schedule here, it can and will be changed by events as minor as the weather/my mood/I saw a really cute puppy and feel like talking about it, or as major as I got exciting new writing news/the zombie apocalypse has arrived/a comet has crashed into the moon sending it closer to Earth and causing some major natural disasters.  By the way, if you have not read “Life as We Knew it” I highly recommend that you do.

Now, without further babbling or stalling on my part, here is my weekly blogging schedule:

Mondays:  This favorite day to all who work office jobs will be devoted to me just checking in.  I’ll talk a little about what step of the writing process I’m on, or maybe about whatever book I’m reading at the time.  Sound exciting?

Tuesdays:  This day will be all about different writing topic I’ve come across while either writing or reading.

Wednesdays:  Will be about new stuff I have learned while writing my novel(s) or researching the publishing market.  (This is the day that will most likely be dropped it I find writing a blog 5 days a week is too much for me).

Thursdays:  Nothing too exciting about Thursdays.  They’ll be pretty much the same as Tuesdays.

Fridays:  This day will be all about book recommendations.  Pretty plain and simple, huh?

Well, that is my extensive blog schedule.  Hope you all enjoy it.

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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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Hello world!

03/26/2011 at 10:08 pm (Uncategorized)

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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