NTMI: Hello everyone! It's another beautiful Saturday morning... er evening... and we're here with Shelleylow to find out how she does such amazing work. Good evening, Shelley!
Shelleylow: Thanks, and a good morning to you, too. This time zone thing is tough.
NTMI: Yes, it is. Morning for me, evening for you, at least we can sort of meet in the middle somewhere! The wonders of the internet... but speaking of internet... how did you get on it and find Neopets?
Shelleylow: Well...my brother Sentroy suddenly comes rushing into my room one evening and goes: Shell, they have this great site where you can go to this place called Faerieland and they have... Needless to say, both of us created accounts and got playing!
NTMI: I'd say! So where does the user name of Shelleylow come from?
Shelleylow: Nothing too imaginative, my first name is Shelley and last name is Low...I'm sure the rest isn't too hard to fathom. I wish I could change it though...
Shelleylow: ...but that'd mean giving my pets up, so, nah.
NTMI: Not to mention all those Neopian Times trophies!
Shelleylow: Yup...those too...my only *real* trophies:) All the rest were for easy stuff like Cheat. Not that I have all that many trophies anyway...
NTMI: Trophies, pets.... so what DO you enjoy most about Neopets anyway?
Shelleylow: I love the Flash games, which I've sworn off till my exams are over*snarls* But, I have to say my absolute favourite things are my friends, my pets and...say it with me...writing to the NT. Plus reading it of course!
NTMI: Most definitely! So what got you started reading- and then writing- for the NT?
Shelleylow: I saw the NT, saw all the articles were by Neopets users and decided to try my hand at it, because I have always been in love with books and started my own fantasy series, co-written with my cousin(user katespice151) when I was like 8 or 9.
NTMI: Oh! Have you looked back on that since then and said 'how did I ever do that'?
Shelleylow: I'm actually re-writing it now, back then all my favourite authors were like my idols, and my writing style resembled theirs, not to mention there were some elements in their stories that turned up in mine. But I definitely say 'how did I ever do that' looking at my first story, Uptown Gelert. As in, it could be so much better, it's awful!
NTMI: I guess the good part about that is that it means you're improving!
NTMI: You've written mostly series, I notice, but some short stories, too. What is your favorite, and why?
Shelleylow: I try to write shorts, but they always seem to turn out like epics! I guess I prefer series because I like writing long. My only short was actually based on a friend's idea of how her pet got her name.
NTMI: Outside of friends giving you ideas, what else do you use to find story ideas?
Shelleylow: I mostly use what they call the 'butterfly' method; that is, let the ideas come to you, don't go chasing after them. A good idea will hit me at the most unexpected time! And when it does I usually can't wait to get to the computer and write!
NTMI: Luckily for us :) So once you DO get to the computer, how long does it take to write it?
Shelleylow: Some stories, if I'm really inspired, can only take a few hours. Others, such as the longer series, take days. I try to keep a few stories going at once so if I get bored of writing one I can write another. I have three in the works now and another in my head.
NTMI: Whoa! Assembly lines have nothing on your writing desk, I can see that :)
NTMI: So now that it's been written and published, what sort of feedback do you get?
Shelleylow: Mostly good stuff, I haven't got anything really horrible yet. I think the worst thing was from this Gelert's owner, he had a cameo in my story, I changed his name but used his real name in the author's note so I should have seen it coming.
NTMI: He didn't like the name change in the story?
Shelleylow: No, his owner was upset he was used at all. I deserved what I got. That was a while ago though. I mean, I didn't ask her for permission, so you see.
NTMI: Ouch. I guess you got everything settled ok?
Shelleylow: I wrote her a letter of apology, but she never replied. I hope so though, I really am regretful about that.
NTMI: Understandably so. I try to make sure the names I use aren't in use already, but sometimes you just can't anticipate everything- with tens of millions of pets, it's hard not to get caught now and then.
Shelleylow: I know. That was the only letter of that nature I ever got though. Back then I was afraid that owners who had pets with those names would come after me, but now I just try to give my characters names that suit them and that are unique. Not for fear I'll get in trouble, but for the danged fun of it:)
NTMI: Lol! Ok, tip one is to make sure you get permission from people before using their stuff. Tip two is be original. What other tips would you give to anyone trying to get published in the Neopian Times?
Shelleylow: Good grammar, people. I hate it when I see all this stuff with typos and chat speak in the Times, I just feel like cringing! But I think also a lively writing style is key. Some people's stories in the Times, I read them and they're like documentaries! I can't get past the first paragraph before I get bored and give up.
NTMI: No depth, is that it?
Shelleylow: Yeah, it's just like: Whoever the whatever went here, and went there and did this and did that and in the end was very happy because he saved the hurt little Puppyblew, argh!
NTMI: In other words, that's not a story, that's a story outline.
NTMI: Heh- so back to your own experience. What's been the best part about your career as a Neopian Times writer?
Shelleylow: The absolute best bit has to be the elation of seeing the words that came out of your own head in print. I just feel so proud and happy when I look at a new story in the NT. Not to mention, it's especially nice if they draw a personalized picture to go with it!
NTMI: I know that feeling, it's fun to see your characters come to life in pictures! But with every up side there is a down side- what's the worst part about it all?
Shelleylow: Getting letterless Neofriend requests. I mean, they just request for you without even writing to chat and ask why! It's so darn annoying. Luckily, thanks to a little blockage, I've fixed that problem:)
NTMI: Hehehe... now that you've gotten your side taken care of, how about the Neopian Times- if there was one thing you could change about its layout, what would it be?
Shelleylow: I pretty much like it the way it is. But before, when I had my old modem, I couldn't access it at all. That scared me. But I can now, thank goodness.*hugs her new browser*
NTMI: Ohhh, the newer format wasn't compatible with your old browser?
Shelleylow: Yeah, I couldn't get to the different sections for some reason, no matter what I clicked on it always went to the main page. Getting to the sections, as I discovered, took a lot of abominable clicking around.
Shelleylow: But all that's ok now, as I said:)
NTMI: Nasty! Well now that that's out of your way, what's your daily life on Neopets like?
Shelleylow: Not much at the moment. Before, I would be earning NP, particularly if I wanted to get something for my pets, having fun, playing Flash Games:) Right now though, I'm not on all that much due to my horrible exams, so I mainly just get on, feed my pets at the Soup Faerie's, answer my mail, and read the NT if it's out. Hopefully after I get out of this hole my life will be like what I said earlier.
NTMI: We're pulling for you :) Hopefully we'll be seeing more from you on Neopets in the future- but what about now? Have you gotten anything else published or done on Neopets that you can tell us about?
Shelleylow: Well, not much, the NT is pretty much all I do right now. Oh yeah, musn't forget our guild newsletter, the Neopian Extra. I have a story in there that's a sequel to Uptown Gelert. I also think that I'll try for an Art Gallery trophy. Drawing and cartooning are my favourite things to do besides reading and writing.
NTMI: ohhh! Sounds like fun. Ok, how about anywhere on the net- anything out there at all that you've done?
Shelleylow: I do have an online art gallery at Side7.com. It's a great art site. The address is on S_Dasher's page. ( my Gelert of Every Gelert Has her Day fame)
NTMI: Good deal. So where do you see your writing leading in the future?
Shelleylow: Hopefully I'll be a published author one day. I can't compare to the greats (my current favourites) but I can try, I suppose. Also another thing I'm looking forward to is doing my own illustrations!
NTMI: Great :) Well that was all the questions I had, was there anything else you wanted to tell us?
Shelleylow: Hmmm...well, I guess that if you love to write, you should do it. Don't be shy of sending in to the Times(I was, once). Read widely and many different styles, so you can develop your own. And PLEASE, no grammar/spelling errors or chatspeak!
NTMI: Good points, and thanks for speaking with us today! Best of luck in your future endeavors (especially those -shudder- exams).
Shelleylow: Thanks a lot!
Shelleylow: It was a pleasure!
Would you like to read all of Shelleylow's stories? Just click here to check her out in our database!