NTMI: Greetings, everyone! I am here today with Czenko28, who has contributed several great stories and other works to the Neopian Times over the past few months. Welcome, Czenko!
Czenko28: It's good to be here, waiting hours at a time to give you answers to my question. You know, questions aren't easy for me to answer.
NTMI: Heh, I can relate. Well, our first question shouldn't be too difficult: How did you find Neopets?
Czenko28: I remember it like it was only over two years ago. It was a dark and story night...actually the story is very simple. I was a young 11 year old when I was at Limited Too. Me and my friend were looking at the Neopet plushies. We had no idea what they were, but I remember that the red Kau was cute. As we were leaving, my friend looked at the sign above the plushies. It had "neopets.com" on the sign. My friend said, "We should check that out." One day when I came to my friend's house she said that she had tried out the site, and it was quite fun. I looked at her pathetic account that contained a red shoyru named fireeye. I went on the site when I got home, and created meself a red Gelert who is now my brown guard Gelert who will eventually be painted camouflage.
NTMI: That proves what merchandising can do for publicity. ;-) So what made you decide to call your newly made account Czenko28?
Czenko28: That's a really good question. 'Czenko' is actually a part of my real name. It is actually part of my last name. There isn't much to it. It's pronounced chenko and it's Ukrainian. The 28 is just my birthday and minute. Sept. 28 at 3:28. It's personal information, but it stuck and that's what I go by everywhere on the internet. I like the name 'Chenko'. Hmmm...it reminds me of a bird.
NTMI: Tried and true screennames are the best kind. ^^ So, after coming all this way on Neopets, what is it about the site that you enjoy most today?
Czenko28: That's pretty hard. I guess it's the Neopian Times that keeps me here. Having people see my work really makes me happy. Also, I like to have my pets. I still haven't finishing painting them, and I have to have them win pet and site spotlight before I go anywhere. The funnest thing for me to do is make lovable Neopets that hopefully not only me would love.
NTMI: But of course; pets are what the site is all about! What is an average day in Neopia like for you?
Czenko28: Well to tell the truth I don't do much. I normally go on and zap my lab pet which I'm going to get rid of soon. Every once in a while I will play games to have more money to put into the bank. I would make an attempt to enter contests and fail. Once in a while I will mess with my pets' pet pages. I would try to find stories to write about, and open up a Microsoft Word document to start typing. I sometimes battle with my Gelert. I almost always have a little project I'm working on. Right now I have a big project on moving my new pet in, kicking the other one out, and get my Faerie Pteri to win the beauty contest. What I do really varies.
NTMI: Speaking of writing, how did you first discover the Neopian Times?
Czenko28: I never thought I exactly "discovered" the NT. When I was the young 11 year old, I would look at the updates page. I would always like to read what was happening, but every Friday there was a new issue of the NT. I would once in awhile look at it and see all of the boring words that are written there. I never really read the NT. I just knew it was there. I quit Neopets for about a year, and came back now with interest in writing. I really like the new look, and I began actually reading the NT. It wasn't long afterward that I made it my goal on Neopets to be a well known NT writer. I came along late, but back then I was too young to care.
NTMI: Better late than never, and I'm sure you can write better now than when you were younger, anyway. ;-) So, when you discovered this newfound interest in the Times, what gave you the inspiration for your first submission, the comic called "Curses of Maraqua"?
Czenko28: Please don't mention that one. Kess did that one. I just gave him the idea. I have been trying for the times a couple months when that one showed up. I had horrible grammar. My actual first series, "The Pirate Letter" had to be corrected by my friend to get accepted. That "Curses of Maraqua" comic was nothing. Everybody was complaining how the level one fighters could get more points in the war, so that was how the idea for the comic was made.
NTMI: Aww, it wasn't that bad. How did you feel when your very first series was accepted?
Czenko28: I was exited. Not as happy as I had expected to be, but after I had been rejected so many times the rejection letter lost the exitment that came with every letter. By the time I opened it. I just said, "Oh, I won." Then I jumped around the computer and told my brother near by, "My work is actually good enough to be published." I was happy, but I was happier when I found my name up there along with the story. Even though I didn't have a custom picture, that Shoyru looked better than imagined. When I looked at my own name up there, I thought all of the people that had their name up there all the time, and how proud they should be.
NTMI: It does have a certain proud feeling attached to it. ;-) How did you come up with the idea for The Pirate Letter?
Czenko28: I've been asked this multiple times. To tell the truth, I don't know exactly how. Well, the idea came from the NT story, "A Letter to Anne." I read it and loved it. I wished that I could write a letter like that. So I decided to write a letter story. The story branched off from there. The two main characters were supposed to represent people I know, but they didn't really turn out to be like them.
NTMI: You took inspiration from another Neopian Times story, and then it just flowed from there. It's happened to me too. ^^ Later, you wrote stories about you and your pets. Do you prefer using the characters of yourself and pets like Lavalilly or Silver, or creating them out of your imagination like Firaga and Kera?
Czenko28: I like them both equally as much. My stories at home are always written by my Kougra and is said to be "nonfiction." I like writing about them because I enjoy showing the reader who my pets are and what is currently going on with them. I am really proud of them, so why not have them appear in a few NT stories? The stories I write myself are a lot more free and doesn't already have set characters, so it's always nice to have a pet be anything you want for just one or two stories. Stories just come from everywhere and my pets seem to have a big limit on where they can go, because one of the pets is always sticking their nose where it shouldn't be. So in conclusion. They are both fun, but stories for Silver seems to be a lot easier to think of than one out of the blue.
NTMI: I am talking mostly about your stories here, but you've been published in all four big categories of the Neopian Times. Of articles, series, short stories, and comics, which area of work do you enjoy most?
Czenko28: I really enjoy the short stories. I think the articles are too bland, and I'm not really any good at art. The series are okay, but short stories are fun, short, and get the message across. I always have trouble to make it actually short now when I used to struggle just to get 1200 words written down. I guess I'm improving. They are just a fun easy read compared to the series where you have to read into every part every week to get the whole story. I enjoy the series too. Don't get me wrong. I just didn't particularly like my first series because I wrote it so long ago and I have improved. Maybe the other series is going to be better (yet to be accepted). Though I haven't been accepted all that much, I have tons of plans for the NT, but as you know, each submition takes awhile to accept.
NTMI: It certainly does, but when you do get published, the wait is worth it. ;-) You also have the pride of being published in Issue 200, which is a great honor! How did you come up with the idea for your work in that issue, the spooky short story "The Curse of the Notebook"?
Czenko28:That's the hardest question I got so far. I came up with it for a desperate attempt for an ultra cool issue 200 story. I didn't have any story in mind, and I was in the mood for something darkish but not too dark. So I just went "hmmmm..." and I came up with the story. I started off with a pet. Since it was 200 themed I thought she would be a wonderful writer then I had to make her a best friend who I thought should be a little cry baby. With these kind of character, how could you not come with the story? Short version: I created some characters from the blue and went from there. I do regret the afternote greatly. Next time when I put a not in, it would actually be meaningful.
NTMI: Well, it was a good story regardless. How long does it usually take you to write your stories, from first idea to final submission?
Czenko28: Honestly, I don't think I take as long as I should. A short story normally takes about an hour in a half while on the internet at the same time, sometimes at the rainbow pool looking for a good character. In one sitting I write the whole story and revise. The revising only takes a couple minutes, and by this time I'm already sick of the story, so sometimes I send it in without revising as much as I should. I normally revise a little bit more than halfway. For example "The Curse of the Notebook" I did in two days. I didn't revise the whole second part. I just sent it in, surprised to even get an exeption letter. So, I'm a bad little girl when it comes to revising, but I just sit down in type it all most of the time. Sometimes when doing a series, I can do three parts in one sitting, but then I worry about if I was in a bad mood and if the parts didn't turn out any good.
NTMI: I can definetely relate to that. -_- The worries only cease after the piece is published and you know the readers are enjoying it. Speaking of readers, what sort of feedback do you get on your work?
Czenko28: You know, just the usual, "I loved your story." Several people gave me compliments like, "This is the better than reading a book," or "where did you come up with a story like that?" A few people asked me to tell them if there was ever another story by me coming up because they wanted to read it. I got the most fanmail with "The Pirate Letter" and "Dinner." Some people seemed to be jumping up and down when I said I was writing a sequel to "The Pirate Letter." The fans are so sweet. One time a member gave me a gelert plushie to represent my Misha.
NTMI: That is sweet! Have you ever gotten negative feedback?
Czenko28: Not yet so far.
NTMI: Well, that's good! So, now that you've been published several times, what advice would you give to new writers wanting to get published?
Czenko28: Normally I get neomails with not the best grammar in the world, so I always say, "Make sure that you have really good spelling because they will reject you like that *snaps fingers* if you have bad grammar, and remember this is Neopia, not earth, so no electricity." Maybe I would even suggest to lookup secretrulebook. I forgot to mention that a few people say that they want to be good writers too. Normally in my neomails I'm not that meanish. I act really sweet and say words like, "You might want to...," or "it would be good if you..." stuff like that.
NTMI: Grammar is definitely important. Mentioning the electricity/technology rule is smart; I bet a lot of new writers get rejected because of that. Rules aside, though, what do you like most about the Times?
Czenko28: I love writing for it. I guess it's selfish of me to just say the comics and the editorial, but they are the things that I always read. If there is a story or series I'm interested in, i'd read it, but the comics and editorials are funny and well done. Though the editorial isn't writen by the people, the questions are.
NTMI: Nah, that's not selfish; that's why there are different sections in the Times so that people can choose their favorites every week! ;-) That said, though, what do you like the least about the Times?
Czenko28: Does the rejection letter work? I don't care too much about the strict rules as much as that annoying rejection "there are too many good submissions." It's hard for the editor to help this, but now this letter has been overused. If you're talking about just the NT itself, then I guess it would just have to be bland stories, so maybe the strict rules do annoy me.
NTMI: Ah, rejection letters... the bane of most Times writers' Neopets lives... that's definitely a good point. If you could change anything about the Times, what do you think you would change? The way rejections and acceptances are handled?
Czenko28: I would say that, but I wouldn't know how to help it. I am honestly pretty happy with the NT. It would be better if TNT wasn't lazy and just wrote the unwritten rules down instead of making us write a rulebook ourselves. It would save Neopia a lot of time waisted. Other than that, the NT seems to be pretty good. It's been a tiny bit dull lately, but it's our job to keep it lively.
NTMI: The players make the site! With that in mind, have you ever gotten something published elsewhere on Neopets?
Czenko28: Published? You're talking about other contests? No, I haven't. I've tried. I've tried for the beauty contest, pet spotlight, caption contest, story telling contest, and pet spotlight multiple times and still haven't won a thing. The contests are very hard, but I haven't been trying for that long. I think I will get there eventually.
NTMI: Well, good luck! Despite that, have you ever had any of your work put up somewhere else on the Web?
Czenko28: Yes, I have during the year on Neopets where I didn't play. I used to write interviews. They were only funny fake ones, so I have never actually reviewed anyone before. I used to work on other web sites for friends when I was 12. I'm still not all that great at HTML, but I know more than my friends. I guess I consider my work being published somewhere else, but it was nothing like the NT.
NTMI: Very nice! Have you thought about where your writing might lead you in the future? What do you plan to do with it later on?
Czenko28: I have put a lot of thought into this forever. I am aiming for web design or some sort of job in writing. Maybe when I get a little bit older, and idea for a novel will hit me, and I would be good enough to publish it. I'm not completely sure where i'm going, but it should involve computers and writing. Something I enjoy is it, but what it is I'm not exactly sure.
NTMI: Well, good luck! Now that we're near the end of this interview, do you have anything else you wanted to mention--any last thoughts to share?
Czenko28: Yes, I have very helpful advise for you all. Reading the NT everyday is good for your health. What an interesting fact. "The NT a day keeps the doctor away" is what I always say. Haha, maybe I should get into poetry, and thank you for interviewing me and listen to me rant about myself.
NTMI: Thank you for letting me interview you!
Would you like to see the work that Czenko28 has done? Click here to check her out in our database!