During the month of November, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.
Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author J.D. Estrada, a published indie author whose multiple projects began with NaNoWriMo challenges.
Thank you for joining us, J.D.!
How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo? Along with Camp NaNoWriMo I’ve participated 4 different years though not back-to-back. November is often a very tricky month to navigate because of work and hey, we’re only human 🙂 Still, when the opportunity is there, I dive right in.
How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? I first heard about NaNo when a fellow indie author was hosting some live panels, YouTube videos, and write-ins 5 years ago and the year after. I found it interesting and took a stab at Camp NaNo first to get my feet wet before going all in for NaNoWriMo. In addition, I gained an amazing author friend and have discovered one of my favorite authors.
How many of your books began as NaNoWriMo projects? Can you give us a brief description of these? The best example of a NaNoWrimo Novel was actually my middle-grade fantasy, Given to Fly. It tells the story of a young boy who moves to a new house in the Pacific Northwest. Upon arriving, he quickly realizes that there’s not one bit of magic in his new home and for very good reason…because it lives further down the road in a magical house called Od Manor. Other projects that have begun as NaNo projects include Roulette of Rhymes (poetry collection) and For Writing Out Loud (non-fiction collection of essays). Many other projects benefitted from NaNo events as well though in terms of sheer effort and word count, those are the best examples where I was able to show just how much you can do in a month.
How did you feel after completing NaNoWriMo for the first time? It was a bit nerve wracking to be honest because I felt I put myself on the spot. Fortunately, I organized myself super well for Given to Fly and had been pondering the story for quite a while. So when I sat down to write it was intense. Once I finished the first draft, I couldn’t really believe it and that the editing process was actually as easygoing as it was. It was extremely gratifying and definitely showed me what any of us can do if we’re stubborn and creative enough to find the time to write.
Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? I will be participating to close my Human Cycle trilogy with Beyond Human. I might dabble here and there with a short story or two, maybe poetry, essays, or even songs if inspiration takes me but the intention shall be to motivate myself to give this project the love and focus it needs, not put undue pressure on myself.
You mention on your Amazon author page that you enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy. Is your writing influenced by these genres? What other outside interests influence your work? All my reads inspire and influence my writing because I love reading a variety of things and have always been a curious guy. Outside influences include bodyboarding, boxing, videogames, the movies I watch, and I have to admit that music influences EXTENSIVELY. I have little nods to Pearl Jam, Elbow, Soundgarden, Tool, Tori Amos, Ani Di Franco, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Alice in Chains, Blind Melon, ACDC, Jimi Hendrix, and countless others.
In addition, what authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? Some clear influences are Poe, Lovecraft, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Frank Herbert, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and beyond. These are the authors whose books keep me company when life is a bit much, that invite me to dream, and that I turn to if I need a pick-me-up.
What is your favorite method of writing – pen (or pencil) and paper or a computer? Why? Lol most of my answers will begin with: “depends on the project.” The same applies here. Nonfiction I write best when directly on the computer. Short fiction and novels I write with pen and paper and often opt for red ink for novels and other colors for short fiction. With poetry, I favor pencil and paper because it lets me adjust on the fly a bit better.
What’s the most important part of your writing ritual (e.g. what kind of music do you listen to, favorite snack when writing, motivational quotes, etc.)? Music often drives what and how I write and I do take my sweet time making playlists for my different projects. My main thing with music is to get in the mood I need to for what I’m writing and I’ve listened to enough music in my life to know EXACTLY what I need. I have playlists for dark writes, for whimsical stories, for battle scenes, for mellow moments, and for poetry.
Are you an early bird writer or a night owl? I used to be a night owl and have been more an early bird writer BUT, what I think I’ve become is an opportunistic writer. If I see an opportunity to drop off the grid with a notebook, expect some smoke bombs followed by my pitter patter as I flee for a writing session. Call me a writing scavenger if you must, but if there’s a slice of time that’s just sitting there…it will NOT go to waste.
Are you a pantser or a planner? I’ve honed my style to be more a plantser, leaning a bit more to planning. Still, some projects are full on stream of thought, especially poetry and my Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore. BOTH those writes benefit from me painting outside the lines.
What challenges have you faced as a writer? How long have you got? 🙂 EVERY writer will face challenges and they will find different solutions. For me, being an indie author, the biggest challenges relate to having people give me and my work a chance. Motivation can sometimes wain as well, though I think the main challenge is balancing the day job, life, and writing.
What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? ANYTHING that motivates to push and finish a project has got my vote. NaNo and Camp NaNo have often been wakeup calls to get my act together. Sure, I am good at my day job…but when it comes to writing, I truly believe it’s what I was meant to do.
Do you have any advice for first-time NaNoWriMo participants? NaNo is a beautiful project with an energetic community and you should definitely make the most of this contact, though you also have to see if it’s a good fit for you. Use NaNo as motivation and to connect with fellow authors. If it’s burning you out or if it’s cramping your style, do Camp NaNo instead. Most importantly, have fun, because if there’s anything to strive for, it’s for each of us to enjoy what we’re doing.
Although J.D. Estrada currently resides in Atlanta, GA, home shall always be Puerto Rico. With 18 published works and many more on the way, Estrada likes to explore a variety of genres including urban fantasy, middle-grade, poetry, non-fiction, and horror in both English and Spanish because if variety is the spice of life, then let things be spicy. Beyond books, he is also a Creativity Ambassador with a sock collection that borders on the ludicrous and is the original banana secret agent #00Bananas. If you don’t know what that is, check that hash tag for some silly. You can find JD on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.
National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit organization since 2006, supports writing fluency and education. Their website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.
NaNoWriMo Programs and Links from Chester County Library and the Henrietta Hankin Branch.
It’s not too late to get started with NaNoWriMo! Click here for resources, tips, information about our month-long Write-Ins, and a free virtual Writer’s Emergency Kit.
Click here to read last week’s interview with Jennifer Kelland Perry.