NTMI: Good evening everyone! I'm here this evening with leb388, whose informative and thought-provoking articles and stories have been appearing in the Times for some time now. Welcome, leb388!
Leb388: Well, thanks for inviting me! I'm honored to be interviewed!
NTMI: Well you're certainly welcome. Let's start with the basics. How did you find Neopets?
Leb388: Well, it was my brother, jamezbfod, who made me join. I think it was the last day of April 2001 when he showed me the site and said something like, "Hey, I got a Shoyru." I asked him what it was, and he tried to explain that it was a dragon-type pet you could adopt online. I was busy with school then, but two days later, he "helped" me create an account, and I picked out a Uni, and finally decided on the name Pegasusmon3. Since then, I've been hooked. :-)
NTMI: Lol, so you're sitting there with your brother breathing down your neck... and you come up with the name "leb388". How did that happen?
Leb388: Sorry, I have to interject--my brother's here and he insists, "I was not breathing down her neck!"
NTMI: Ah, my apologies for becoming too poetic ;-)
Leb388: It's all right.
NTMI: Lol, but back to your account name...
Leb388: Yep. Anyways, "leb388" is the same as what my e-mail address and AIM name was--and still is--and at the time it was my for-everything screen name. It's my initials (Laura E. B.) and *looks around for weirdos* the month and year I was born: March of '88. Later, I got sick of being called "leb," so I coined the nickname "Lebki" for a story my brother (the same one that's here now) and I were working on at the time, but I still use "leb388" for just about everything. It's pronounced el-ee-bee-three-eighty-eight, not leb-three-eight-eight or leb-three hundred-eighty-eight, which most people probably pronounce it as.
NTMI: Probably so. I know what you mean, I had a friend whose name I mispronounced for years until I talked to her voice and heard her say it correctly. But now that you're on Neopets, what do you like best about it?
Leb388: Well, I like a lot of the site. The Neopian Times is probably first on the list (of course), and is followed closely by the worlds and the shops. The games are ok, I guess, but I'm not really any good at them, except maybe the Battledome. I'm not the g@m3r type.
NTMI: So is an average day spent in Neopia around the shops, in the Times, or what?
Leb388: Well, it really depends on my mood. I almost always start with the worlds (I do my "rounds," that is, all my free things each day), but if I have Neomails, I answer them first. Then I play a game or two, usually Meerca Chase and Destruct-o-Match, though I like Extreme Herder a lot. Sometimes I'll play more, sometimes less. But after that, I camp by the book and food shops for a few minutes, to see if I can grab anything (But I have a slow modem, even for a dialup...). Then I usually restock my shop, but sometimes I'm in a hurry or am just too lazy. When I'm feeling daring, I train my pets some or battle one-player. I try to cram as much in two or three hours as I possibly can.
Leb388: On weekends I do my Neopian Times-reading, and I do most of the writing when I'm offline and have a good idea stuck in my head, which is at pretty random moments.
NTMI: Where do you get those good ideas?
Leb388: Well, sometimes I take in bits of my brother's jibberish and turn it into a story (like " The Lost Neopet"), but I almost always get a good idea when I'm doing something important. When I'm babysitting my siblings, I get a good idea. When I do my homework, I get a good idea. It's just sudden, and sometimes I have to wait awhile to write it down, but by then I usually have it halfway developed.
NTMI: So how long from initial concept to finished submission for the Times?
Leb388: It always depends. Sometimes I get what seems like the greatest idea, but then I can't figure out a way to finish it and end up changing it to something else entirely. When I have something that I really want to send to the Times as a continued series, it comes in stages. There's the first-chapter stage, then I wait about a day and write until I reach about the middle, then sometimes I wait awhile, but after that I finish it. I'm a perfectionist, and my work goes through some heavy proofreading, too. The last stage is probably the Jamez Test. If I'm not too mad at him, I make him read my work and have him tell me his opinion. " Battle For Neopia: The Chia-Lupe Debate" took over two months to complete. But when I'm doing an article, it's different. I usually write it all up at once, then later sign on to Neopets to do more research and make sure some things are correct, then I proofread it once or twice and send it in.
NTMI: Sounds like a lot of work! What got you started doing it in the first place?
Leb388: I think it was July of last year when I started reading the New Neopian Times, and I decided right away that I wanted to be in it. It's my natural "That looks cool--I'll give it a try," thinking. I submitted my first short story ("The Perfect Petpet") in early August, I believe. All that I can remember of the initial idea behind it was that I wanted to do a story with one of my pets defending against the Pant Devil. It was rejected at first, but I sent it in again, and when it didn't make it the second time I revised it, sent it in again, and it made it. And the ball started rolling.
NTMI: And how. Another short story, two series, and three articles later, have you decided what your favorite thing to write is?
Leb388: Not really--I go back and forth between continued series and articles. I'm not really into short stories anymore. I think because it's hard to cram a beginning, gradual character introduction, climax, and ending in a short story, so it often ends up choppy. Articles are easy to write and helpful, and continued series are long, but rewarding, and generate a lot of feedback. When I get my brother's scanner installed to my computer, I can do a comic or two, but until then I'm sticking to writing.
NTMI: Speaking of feedback, what sort of feedback do you usually get?
Leb388: Mostly positive, but there are those exceptions. That's why I wrote " Neomail Etiquette"--that explains pretty much my opinions of feedback and responding to it. I hate guild invitations, and even when you block them, people send them in regular neomails. The annoyance! But recently I've received a lot of "Wow, you're a really talented writer! Keep up the good work!" Neomails, which is a big change from the "You hate chias! You're a loser! Waa!" stuff I used to get. But I didn't let those guys push me down, and look where I am now!
NTMI: Lol, I guess that's the problem with engaging in polemics- or the benefit, whichever you want to view it as.
NTMI: But now that you've succeeded, what would you tell others who want to succeed?
Leb388: Um, I guess to keep trying no matter how many rejections you get, and to ignore anyone who insults your story, or use those insults to persevere yourself to success.
NTMI: And on the down side, so to speak... what fault, or faults, do you usually see in stories that are published in the Times?
Leb388: In the stories? Mostly lack of clarity. Some authors waver between characters, or have dull characters that have the same personality instead of varied or conflicting personalities, or have unclear settings of the story. And those "Oh no, the fate of Neopia is in our hands--we must travel..." stuff gets boring after awhile unless it's really exceptional. In articles, it's mostly articles that are too brief or don't apply to a good portion of Neopets users that I don't like. Then again, it could just be my perfectionism talking again.
NTMI: Never apologize for having standards ;-) What do you like best about being in the Times?
Leb388: To be honest, I really don't know. I love writing, and I like to write things that make people think, and Neopets has a great system for organizing pieces that different people have written and sent in. It's sort of a competition each week! I like watching my trophy get more and more "xChampion!" numbers on it, and it's just a way to do something I like.
NTMI: Would the hate mail you had to weather be the worst part about it all?
Leb388: Well, some people on Neopets know me as the nice, polite girl who writes for the Neopian Times, but I love to say to hate-mailers, "Hey, that's your opinion, and you better stick to it, because I and a lot of others won't." So I really don't mind hate mail that much. The waiting for the next issue of the Times to come out is the worst part, especially when the Neopian Times comes on a Sunday or later. It's so agonizing!
NTMI: Ah yes... let's see, how did I put it once....
NTMI: "Logging onto Neopets this weekend has felt remarkably similar to repeatedly beating my head against a brick wall. I know it's still there, I know it's going to hurt, but something within me makes me bash myself against that empty error message again and again and again."
NTMI: Besides coming out on time, though, is there anything else you would change about how the Times is organized?
Leb388: Well, as I said, the most major thing would be the day it comes out. I mean, it's supposed to come out Friday or Saturday, but sometimes it's on Sunday, or even Monday. If they said something like "We're having technical problems, and the Neopian Times will be a day or two late," I could understand it, but when they don't say anything about it, I really do wonder. Oh, and I wish that both authors would get credit when something is co-written, not just one.
Leb388: And sometimes I'd like to know just how entries are chosen to go in...
NTMI: That's a sticky point, I know! And as to the latter, I think it's a case of playing blind skeet shoot with the editor's moods when he reads it (lol) but on to the next question.
NTMI: What else have you gotten published on the Neopets site? Anything?
Leb388: I honestly can't think of anything. I've entered the Poetry Competition, Site Spotlight, Caption Competition, and a lot of other competitions, but I've only had success with the Neopian Times.
NTMI: Too bad, although I can certainly sympathize! What about outside of the Neopets site. Anything else of yours on the web we should know about?
Leb388: Well, I've got a web site where I release any and all things I think up that are absolutely insane; it's mostly a Digimon site, though I haven't updated it in the longest time. I won a poetry contest in fifth grade and had it published, but that was really far back.
NTMI: Gotcha. So enough about the past, what about the future- where do you plan to go with your writing?
Leb388: Well, my dream job is pretty much to be a computer programmer, but I've considered being a writer for something like a magazine or newspaper, though probably not until I finish high school and college.
NTMI: Well good luck! That was all of the questions I had, I think. Was there anything else you wanted to let us know about?
Leb388: Not except to watch out for me in the future. Any and all randomness in my stories is due to my brother, jamezbfod. Um...shout out to my sister and all my peeps!
NTMI: Lol you got it! Thanks for "stopping by" this evening.
Leb388: Thanks for taking the time to interview me!
Would you like to read all of Leb388's stories? Just click here to check her out in our database!