Collaborative Writing Challenge

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller

Author Spotlight: July 2015 
Kaylee Kosakowski

Every month I would like to shine the spotlight on one of our participating writers. This month, I would like to introduce Kaylee Kosakowski - a 19 yr old girl from Buffalo, currently studying in Queens, New York. Kaylee has been a stand out writer at CWC. Her chapters are always eagerly anticipated and she always manages to get a good grasp of the story as it's unfolding. I believe this is one young writer to look out for! Get to know Kaylee a little better below!

1. What made you start writing? Do you have a master plan?

I started writing in eighth grade. Ironically enough, throughout middle school, English was my least favorite subject. Reading comprehension didn't come easily to me and I never got too interested in the required novels (and I'll admit that to this day, I doubt I'll willingly be picking up The Adventures of Tom Sawyer any time soon). Yet despite everything I had against the subject, I found myself drawn to poetry. I really have no idea why I started writing it - maybe it simply the urge to prove to myself that I could do it - but once I began, it was impossible to stop.

My parents always encouraged me to write and towards the end of high school, writing became more than a hobby to me. I took a creative writing class and I just fell in love with the concept of creating worlds. With poetry, I love how words take on entirely new meanings; it's breathing life into combinations of letters which, colloquially, seem so mundane. Lessons and sentiments are sometimes more powerful when disguised in poetry. With stories, I love falling in love with my own characters.Even though the characters that I create are based off of different aspects of my own personality, they experience life so differently that I do. Despite the fact that I wield the pen behind their thoughts, I learn so much about life through them; I grow with them. In that sense, I write for myself and not to impress others. But if my stories can touch others or even just entertain them, it transforms my selfish desire to write into something much more beautiful - and for that, I am grateful.

As I am only nineteen, people tell me that I still have time to figure it all out (and I like to think they're telling me the truth). I keep my mind open while always being proactive. At this point in my life, I have so many dreams; I dream of writing for television and I dream of expanding my horizons as an author. I dream of falling in love like in my favorite stories and I dream of owning forty cats. Life is unpredictable, but that's what makes it worth living. For the short term future, I plan to wrap up my current projects and hopefully publish one day. As for my long-term master plan, maybe it's a reflection of my age and slight naivety on my part, but it's simply to be happy, no matter what I do. 

2. Do you use good old fashioned pen and paper or your computer to write?

I use both!  When I write poetry, it is paper and pen, no questions asked (and I always write in cursive). With stories, I use my computer. I type much faster than write, plus I'm a bit of a stickler for appearance. I'd much rather hit backspace a billion times than see cross outs and smudges and smears. To me, words will carry the same impact and feeling whether they're handwritten or typed.

3. How does it feel to be a co-author of a published novel?

It makes me feel incredibly proud. The style of writing required for CWC is one that I never imagined I would ever attempt, so to force myself out of my comfort zone was a huge personal accomplishment. That aside, to be given the opportunity to work with such talented authors is truly a gift. Even though I have never met the others face to face, just reading what they've written for the novels has taught me so much. That's just one of the many beautiful things about writing. 

4. What are you currently working on?

Besides CWC's Ambition and Ark, I am currently in the process of writing the first draft for my own novel!  There are twenty six projected chapters - twenty one of which have been written - with each chapter averaging around 3,500 words. I don't have a definite title yet - the tentative one is: To Fall is to Rise - but the story can be classified into the genre of teen fantasy. It's become a very popular genre as of late (it's actually my favorite genre), and what I hope sets my story apart from others is in its focus. Below is a description:

"This isn't a story of heroes and villains, of good and evil. No person is more special than the next. Each person will fall - in what, I cannot say - and each person will rise. This is a story of the human heart; possibly the greatest evil humanity has ever been blessed with."

Accompanied with an epigraph titled "The Show":

Watch as they move before your eyes-

as they quickly pull you in.

Flirting with danger, charming the crowd,

wearing a beautiful grin.

Applause and cheers resonate for days

but the curtain has fallen for a year.

In the silence of reality, they walk the city

wearing facades from ear to ear.

They seem normal, but don't look too close-

secrets aren't meant to be shared.

Knowing too much will ruin the illusion...

Leave your ignorance spared.

I'm guilty of starting novels and never completing them, so even if this current project goes nowhere but my personal library, it's completion will be one of my greatest accomplishments.This is currently my main project, but I also dabble with short stories every now and again.

5. How did you find writing a chapter for CWC? Was it what you expected?

In all honesty, writing was just as I expected it to be. The pilot project, The Concierge, is written in first person, a view I am not very comfortable with. I mix up my tenses and my writing gets awkward. Grammar, which is usually one of my strong suits in writing, was very difficult for me. Also, all of the writers for the CWC novels have access to chapter summaries and reference notes (that indicate points that still need addressing), but as the story progresses, it can be difficult to keep track of all the details. Attempting chapter 23 was a whole different experience than attempting chapter 9. As I wrote, I often worried that my writing style would clash with that of the previous and future chapter authors, but thanks to Laura's dedication, all of the chapters really flow. There was so much to consider whilst writing!

But even though I just made it seem like there were issues at every stage of writing a chapter, the reward of finishing a chapter makes it all worth it. The satisfaction that I felt after completing the chapters, even before they were selected, is indescribable. When I first submitted a chapter to the story coordinator, I took a moment and just realized that I wrote a chapter for a story in which I have only ever read two chapters of (the first and the one immediately preceding mine).In this aspect, CWC exceeded my expectations.

6. Where is your favorite place to write, and why?

My favorite place to write would have to be in my bed. For me to write at my most productive pace, I need to be in dead silence, so I often wait to write until late at night when I'm makeup free and in my pajamas. I wish I could say "a hipster coffee shop in Brooklyn" or "on my roof as I gaze at the stars," but alas, I cannot lie.

7. What do you consider your best work to date? tell us a little about it?

If I had to pick one (I make it sound like there are so many, when in reality, I was torn between two), I'd say a poem called "Autumn's Touch."  I wrote it on the website about one year back when I was in my prime of poetry writing (I haven't written much poetry lately). 

It's a short poem, only five stanzas long, and as the title not-so-subtly suggests, it's about Autumn. Autumn is my favorite season of the year, not only for practical reasons (no allergies, hurrah!), but also because it appeals to the romantic in me. This poem describes the transient nature of the fall with an emphasis on the cool temperatures. It's about finding warmth during a month that, to me, is associated with solitude. My favorite type of romance to write about is an innocent, gentle one - a romance in which simply holding hands speaks volumes. This is reflected in the poem.

Autumn's Touch

Whispering tales of the summer that once was,
the wind softly caresses my face.
It's a cool, gentle touch--like feathers of a dove...
Fleeting--away it does race.

Numb fingers fisted in my pockets' depth
battling for the slightest heat...
Crunching leaves, I carefully place my steps
at a relaxed pace I move my feet.

My nose dreams of chai as I continue on my way,
under the orange-shedding trees.
Once in a while, the leaves and my hair would play
as they danced along the breeze.

Suddenly a cozy, warm scent flirts with my senses--
I could only stop and turn...
Arm stretched out, holding a drink as incentive,
at your invitation, my cheeks burn.

Shyly approaching, my eyes look to the ground
but to you, they always roam.
My left hand accepts your gift without a sound,
my right hand finds yours,
finally home.

8. You are the first writer to have chapters selected for all three projects.Congratulations! How do you approach the task at hand, and which story did you enjoy working on most?

Thank you so much, I didn't know that!  

My favorite story to work on has been CWC's third project, Ark. When I received the email that the next project would be a sci-fi/fantasy/adventure type of story, I was thrilled.Upon receiving the selected starting chapter, I'll admit I was a little worried about how I would even write for something like that. It was intimidating, especially because, with all starter chapters, I just wondered how the initial author intended for the story to play out. But once I got past that, I just fell in love with one of the characters, Franklin. He's blunt and rude and swears like a sailor and he's an absolute treat to write for. Because the genre of Ark is so different from the first two projects, there were so many different paths that the story could go down. The adventures that the characters embark on are completely different than those that the characters in The Concierge and Ambition do. I enjoyed exploring the universe vicariously through the characters while also getting the chance to add my own splash of personality to them.

9. You have also had a chapter that wasn’t selected, how did this make you feel?

Initially, I was disappointed. Rejection isn't easy. I could make as many excuses as I wanted as to why the chapter wasn't as well written compared to the others I have done, but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that a wonderful chapter was selected instead of mine - one that will continue to push the story forward. For every chapter that I had selected, someone else had to get an email saying that his or her chapter was not. But did that stop them from writing?  No, it did not. I said before that I considered it a gift to work with the other writers and that I've learned a lot from them. They helped prevent me from drowning in despair over not having a chapter selected and because I didn't wallow, I grew. 

10. What would be your preferred Genre for the next CWC collaboration?

Fantasy-romance, hands down. I would even attempt a starter chapter for this genre. It's my favorite genre to read (and lately, I've done nothing but read) and I think that the other authors could create some wonderful adventures. 

11. Inspiration point: Write 100 - 300 words using this randomly generated word - Awakening

I wanted to write something that would warm your hearts--that would speak to the romantic in all of you.But then I realized how difficult it is to portray that in three hundred words. So instead, you get this….

Cautiously, he crossed the threshold into the dark space ahead.  A soft ray of light gently poured at the entrance, but just as soon as it appeared, it was gone.  It was impossible to see what lay in front of him—he could only continue forth blindly and hope for the best.

Following him was a group of people—his wife, his son, and some other friends—treading silently.  Carefully. 


The trip to their destination—which was the other side of the dark abyss—was usually safe.  They had been making this excursion for fifteen years and this would be their sixteenth journey.  But each year’s attempt ended the same, with them aggravating the beast that rested in the darkness.  Even so, he could not bring himself to abandon tradition. 


Plus, his son collected video footage every year.  The trip was a chance to bond with his son who did so enjoy capturing every moment of their trek.  His wife was there as damage control; things tended to take a turn for the worst.


Hearing the beast shuffle, he paused.  This was it. The awakening.  Glancing at his son to ensure the camera was ready, he moved his left hand to a switch and his right to an air horn.  Ignoring his wife’s glare of disapproval, he flipped the switch and sounded the horn. 


Jolted awake by the piercing noise and bright lights, the beast released a high-pitched, terrified sound.


“Happy birthday, sweetheart!”


Laughing at the curses thrown, he and his son ran out, leaving his wife to question his maturity with his daughter.


Catching his breath, he smiled to himself.  Time sure flew; in two years, she’d be eighteen. 


It was bittersweet, but as he panted, it was more sweet than bitter. 


He was getting too old for this.

12.What is your favorite book and why?

As I'm nineteen and enjoy reading novels aimed at a teenage demographic, I'm going to pick Graceling by Kristin Cashore. To tell you the truth, I love all three books in the realm (Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue: they're not a series, but all set in the same world). It's my favorite genre (fantasy romance) and I couldn't help but fall in love with the characters. I love stories with a strong female protagonist and Katsa personifies all of my favorite qualities in a characters; she's strong and fierce with a clear set of morals. When I read these books, I smile and laugh, regardless of where I am. To me, that's a sign that I've become invested in the characters and their lives. It's truly a great feeling.

And here's me being a rebel:

To pick a book that can appeal to all ages, I'm going to choose - Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (even though I haven't read it since the iPad was considered technology of the future). It has aspects of "fantasy" in the sense that the Tuck family lives forever, but the romance and the life lessons are why I chose it. The concept of immortality and the woes that come with it is a cliche in this day and age, but it's well paced (as far as I remember) and the romance is beautifully tragic. The novel presents both the pros and cons of immortality in such a way that it's heartbreaking to pick a side. 

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