National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – Geoff Le Pard

During the month of November, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

Geoff Le Pard

Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author Geoff Le Pard, a published indie author whose multiple projects began with NaNoWriMo challenges.

Thank you for joining us, Geoff!

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo? I’ve done three and a half years!

How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? When I started blogging, I read about it and heard people praise it so decided to give it a go.

Three of your books began as NaNoWriMo projects. Can you tell us more about how you got started? The first book was the second book in a series. It followed my hero on his hapless journey and was set in 1981. Having finished the first book (set in 1976), I knew I wanted to continue, but I kept putting it off. Having heard about Nano, I saw it as the perfect way to kick-start book two. It worked.

The second book was a challenge I set myself the following year. I took the Nano concept—a challenge to write 1667 words a day through out November—and gave it a twist. I asked friends, family, fellow writers and followers of my blog to send me any prompt for short stories that appealed to them. By the time Nano began, I had thirty possible short story prompts and structures. Each day I committed to write a new short self-contained story of 1667 words exactly and post it on my blog. Eventually, I turned it into my first anthology of short stories, entitled Life, In A Grain of Sand.

The third book, like the first needed a kick-start and while this one proved more difficult to bring to fruition I did complete the 50,000 words for Nano. The half book was a disappointment at the time (I only managed about 32,000 words) but I left it alone for a year and came back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.

Where are your books and stories set? The first book is set in the West End of London in 1981, following the adventures of Harry Spittle, a character loosely based on me, or at least on my life’s trajectory—in this instalment he is training to be a lawyer, as I was in 1981. His adventures are nothing like my own! The second, as I explained is a set of shorts, so pretty much everywhere! The third is a modern comic fantasy set about now in a city much like London but not as you’d know it.

What has been your process of editing and preparing your NaNoWriMo manuscripts for publication? It is no different to any other book, really. For me, that first draft is like chiseling a few lumps off a piece of rock for a sculptor. It needs a heck of a lot of work. I usually leave anything I’ve written for a minimum of three and sometimes up to six months before I look at it again. After that it’s edit, edit, edit. If I can, I will try and persuade someone who will give me honest comments (and not just ‘nice’) to read it. Eventually I pay an editor to read it through, point out any obvious nonsenses with plot, character, dialogue etc and a second pass to clean up typos etc. Then I self-publish. I have a designer I use for the covers.

What is your favorite method of writing—pen (or pencil) and paper or a computer? Why? Computer; I can’t read my own writing.

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.)? A comfortable seat, good lighting and no chores making me feel guilty… I don’t really hear the music playing while writing; for me, it’s like the stuff you get in a lift—wallpaper music. Therefore, it can be anything, usually some compilation on Spotify.

Are you an early bird writer or a night owl? Both. More a night owl, I suppose. I’m most productive when there’s nothing else to do that day than write.

Are you a pantser or a planner? I used to say a pantser, but I’ve realized I’m a hybrid. All my novels, so far, have started with an idea and I’ve started writing with no end in mind. I may have one or two characters, but they develop as I write. However, I’m constantly revising my plot in my head, often taking it a long way forward. I plan a lot, I just don’t write the plot down.

What challenges have you faced as a writer? Time, time, time. And an over use of the word ‘so’. And a disinclination to tell my readers where my characters are – I struggle with locations, no idea why. I love editing and rewriting as much as the first write.

What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? The discipline of the challenge and knowing there are lot of others out there in their metaphorical garrets, toiling away to crack the 50K barrier.

What authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Sue Townsend, AA Milne, Herge, Patrick Hamilton, Iain Banks, Ann Cleeve, Michael Bond… it’s pretty endless really.

Do you have any advice for first-time NaNoWriMo participants? It is a marathon and as such do not think about the finish line; break it down into bite sized chunks. You can catch up if you miss a day. Try not to worry that you’ve changed a character, forgotten their name, put them in a different location, left a plot hole with its own event horizon—none of that matters as much as getting the 50k written. It doesn’t have to be linear either; if you write a chapter but aren’t sure where it will fit, it still counts and the exact insertion can follow. DO NOT LOOK BACK but keep moving forward, just writing.

Geoff Le Pard has been writing creatively since 2006 when, at a summer school with his family he wrote a short radio play. That led to a novel, some more courses, more novels, each better than the last until he took an MA in creative writing at Sheffield Hallam, graduating in 2013. His published works include Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Life, in a Grain of Sand. A retired lawyer, he mixes writing with a range of activities, including walking his dog to find inspiration, wrestling his lawn into a chequerboard pattern and watching sports. You can find him on WordPress at Tangental.

About NaNoWriMo

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.

In the midst of your NaNoWriMo project? Click here for resources, tips, information about our month-long Write-Ins, and a free virtual Writer’s Emergency Kit.

Click on the authors names to read our NaNoWriMo interviews: Jennifer Kelland Perry, JD Estrada and Jill Weatherholt.

National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – J.D. Estrada

During the month of November, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

J.D. Estrada

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.

About NaNoWriMo

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.

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.

National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – Jennifer Kelland Perry

Dreaming about writing a novel? NaNoWriMo is a great chance to get your book idea going. During the month of November, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

Jennifer Kelland Perry

Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author Jennifer Kelland Perry, whose book Calmer Girls was part of a NaNoWriMo challenge.

Thank you for joining us, Jennifer!

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo? First of all, thank you for inviting me for this interview. I’m truly honored to be here. I have taken part in NaNoWriMo three times since 2013. The first two times, I worked on the Calmer Girls series, a duology. I successfully reached the word count of 50,000 words with both. The third and most recent time I participated was in 2016, where I didn’t reach the goal – life and a bad flu bug got in the way – but I did write 29,000 words. So even though I didn’t “win” that year, I have since finished the novel, the first in a speculative fiction trilogy. That book is now in prepublication.

How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? I first heard of it when I started my WordPress blog nearly ten years ago. When I followed other writers, I learned about the challenge and became familiar with it. I couldn’t resist giving it a go.

Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Yes, and I’m looking forward to it. I hope to complete the first draft of my trilogy’s second instalment.

Your first book, Calmer Girls began as a NaNoWriMo project. Can you tell us more about how you got started? Actually, I’d already started Calmer Girls, but I thought NaNoWriMo would give me the extra discipline and focus to finish the first draft. And it did!

Calmer Girls is set in St. John’s, a city in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where you were born and lived until 2010. How did you incorporate local places into your story? Do you also write about other places? I believe in writing about what you know, more particularly when it comes to setting. It was a lot of fun to write about the capital city of St. John’s, my birthplace. It’s a colourful backdrop for my books, as it has been for many local authors. But I’ve also lived in several rural areas of the province, so it was easy to incorporate that into my writing as well.

What was your process of editing and preparing your NaNoWriMo manuscript for publication? I can’t speak for other writers, but editing is a whole different experience compared to getting a rough draft down. I spend much more time adding, revising, and polishing. And then there is the time spent researching and querying – the list goes on.

What is your favorite method of writing – pen (or pencil) and paper or a computer? Why? Banging away on the laptop is my preferred method because it’s faster and easier for me than handwriting. Supplementing that are tons of notes I’ve jotted down in a notebook or on my phone whenever inspiration strikes.

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.)? My ritual is quite boring, really. I only need three things: a quiet space at my desk, a couple of cups of coffee, and one of my bulky turtleneck sweaters. The sweaters keep me cozy and warm when I’m sitting still for extended periods. Oh, here’s a tip (more than a ritual) that helps me: when you finish writing for the day, leave off somewhere good in a scene, so you can jump right in the next day without missing a beat. For momentum, I find it works better than starting off with a new scene.

Are you an early bird writer or a night owl? For first drafts, early mornings are crucial. My pesky inner critic doesn’t wake up until after lunch! For editing and revising, any time of the day will do. I rarely write any fiction at night.

Are you a pantser or a planner? I used to think I was a pantser because I didn’t write a firm outline. Then I realized I’d planned the bulk of the storyline in my head. Nowadays I create semi-fluid outlines, because in the past my characters have sometimes pushed me to deviate from the original plot. It feels necessary to plot a trilogy that way.

What challenges have you faced as a writer? The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far has been the pandemic. It distracted me from writing in 2020, but thankfully I’m back on course. I did use the time to read a lot more.

What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? My two-out-of-three success rate? Seriously, I find the word count and deadline motivating. At the same time, I don’t allow myself to feel unduly pressured.

What authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? Oh, far too many to list here. However, several futuristic works inspired my current project.

Do you have any advice for first-time NaNoWriMo participants? If you don’t have a plotted outline, at least have a rough idea what you will write about by envisioning key scenes. Character development is also vital. And remember to have fun with it!

Jennifer Kelland Perry is a blogger, devoted reader and animal lover from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. She holds a Creative Writing diploma, Office and Administration certificate, Native Studies certificate and is the author of two novels, Calmer Girls and Calmer Secrets, published on Amazon. Jennifer is a member of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and took part in the Literary Events NL Book Tours of 2017 and 2018. In the city, Jennifer worked in banking and now enjoys a life by the sea in Newtown, Bonavista Bay with her husband and one very spoiled cat.

Jennifer loves to connect with her readers here.

About NaNoWriMo

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.