Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Author Interview ~ J. A. Partridge

Back on Dec. 21st, I published an Author Interview with Holly Gonzalez—the first of my Wattpad Author interviews.

Today we have Jeff Partridge visiting and I’m eager to get our second Wattpad Author interview started :-)


So, Jeff, when did you decide to become a writer, and why? J. A. Partridge - Author

I’ve always been a storyteller. I was one of those precocious kids whose mouth never stopped moving if he had an audience. While writing fiction was always my favorite assignment in school, I started out wanting to write and draw comic books. I even became a pretty good sketch artist at one point, but my style wasn’t really conducive for what was being produced at the time. Who knows, if we’d had the internet back then I might still be doing comics.

When did you begin writing novels?

I mostly wrote short stories until I read The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion in 7th grade. That, combined with my love of history, myth, and legend and a host of other works like Herbert’s Dune series and Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series, got me thinking of stories on a much vaster scale. To this day, I find short forms difficult to write. Somewhere around my senior year at university I stumbled upon a deceptively simple fantasy by James P. Blaylock which inspired me to stop playing with story ideas and actually complete a novel if only for the challenge of accomplishing it.

O.K., Jeff, tell the folks how many novels you’ve written.

I have six full novels completed, one abandoned at the ¾ mark which may eventually get cannibalized and four others half-finished at about 50,000 words each. Not counting short stories, false starts, re-drafts and experiments, I have nearly 900,000 words wrapped up in those stories. They say it takes one million words written before a writer is ready for publication. If I only count novels, I’m almost there. LOL

You write in several different genres. Which is your favorite?

Science fiction was my first love. But fantasy, with all of it’s sub-genres, is far more flexible. You can tell pretty much any story you want there. However I do like to challenge myself. Since I’ve become involved with Wattpad, I challenged myself to write a full novel in every genre they recognize.

Considering the variety of your stories, where do you get your inspiration?

ADHD. Seriously. I was only recently diagnosed and begun treatment, but even before that I often felt like I had a computer simulation of reality running in my head constantly doing experiments. I think most dedicated writers are naturally curious about the world around them, asking themselves how it works and wondering “what if”. In my case I never stopped being a kid “playing pretend”. I just started doing it with words on paper, then computer screens. I have more ideas than time. I can’t afford to wait for inspiration. Fortunately I’ve developed a system instead.

Does that make you a Plotter instead of a Pantser?

I started out as pantser. I think that’s why it took over a decade to finish the first 1.75 novels. In fact I had largely stopped writing until I discovered National Novel Writing Month. I knew writing 50,000 words in 30 days would require a plan. Most of my work has been created just in the last 9 years.

Does that mean you work from an outline; and, do you ever worry that’ll kill the spontaneity of your story?

Most professional novelists say a writer’s real work begins after the first draft is completed. If you lose interest in a story once you know the ending, I’d suggest you may be more of a frustrated reader than an actual writer. Fortunately, the task of editing is much easier and much less drastic with a well thought out plan. Without it, the writing process is like an artist throwing a bunch of randomly colored blobs of paint at a canvas, then decided what they want to paint. That’s never struck me as a very professional way of doing things. Looking back, I can’t understand why I wasted so much time trying to “pants” it. I would be so much further along now if I had taken the process more seriously at the start.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t surprise discoveries along the way. I don’t think any of my outlines have survived unchanged, and they’re never as detailed as I’d like them to be before starting. Ideally I’d have a logline for each scene. I’m actually lucky to have a list of at least 50 or 60 scene ideas before NaNoWriMo starts. However I don’t generally start a story without a logline for the overall story, the theme and the 8 key transitional scenes. I’ve blogged about this recently as I’ve refined the process. I’ve even developed a little javascript application to help guide me through the process which you can find on my website.

So, Jeff, do you have any “formal training”?

Just a liberal arts degree with dual majors in religion and philosophy and a painful couple of years as what they once called a “cub reporter.” I’ve taken a few classes here and there including, early on, a correspondence course through Writers’ Digest where they paired you up with a published mentor. That was helpful, though to be honest, I had already learned most of what I needed through my own research. One of the most helpful things I did was to join a critique group of writers committed to being published. Some of them went on to publish entire series of books. Learning how to give and (especially) receive constructive criticism was invaluable. It also helped me learn to look at my own writing more analytically.

O.K., Jeff, Traditional or Self-published—how do we find your work?

I’ve made a few halfhearted attempts to submit my fiction to commercial publishers, but I’ve generally been too busy with writing and, well, life to focus on it until now. I’d love to have a novel commercially published, if only for the validation and possible exposure to new readers, but unless you’re in that upper middle tier where they promote you in the hope of making a lot of money off of you, I think it’s best to self-publish. Even then, I’m not sure it’s worth the tradeoff in lost rights, time and money.

I’ve got quite a bit of fiction in various stages of development available for free at WattpadKIngdom of The Stone

For those who support independent authors, you can find Kingdom of the Stone, The Stone King, a zombie-in-space novella called Colony of the Dead and Spirit, an anthology of ghost stories which has one of my short stories, all at Amazon, where I hope to soon add more.

What are your plans for the future, Jeff?

My immediate plans are to clean up, re-format, and re-launch both Kingdom of the Stone and The Stone King books, do the same with The Stone KIngThe Ascent and launch it with a new cover, finish the first draft of Courting Death, hopefully by this summer, and finish, with a substantial rewrite, The Awakened for this year’s NaNoWriMo.

In the spring of 2014 you lost your son, Jeff How has his death impacted your writing?

Eleven days after turning 21, my son Joshua left his university apartments, mixed up some ordinary chemicals to create hydrogen sulfide gas and turned his car into a gas chamber.  That was a little over a year and a half ago. It will take me and my family many years to grasp the full impact of that event which we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives. Though it’s entirely too soon to say what impact it will have on my writing, I can say that it has drastically changed my priorities.

Nothing clarifies one’s thoughts like the imminent presence of death reminding us that, however much time we have left in this life, it is always less than we think. I give far less of a crap about the ordinary worries of life. Even much of what I used to think of as grievous pain and suffering pales to little more than self-centered whining. I know I am still very much in the middle of dealing with this, but for the moment it seems to have made me both more and less compassionate. In many ways, a large part of my life ended on that day. I’m just hoping to wrap up a few things in what time I have left.

Mind/heart-wrenching tragedy………


Finally—Jeff, do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. First, clarify your goals and motivations. Do you want to be a writer or do you just want to have written a book? Are you writing for yourself? For friends or family? Others? Publication? Fame and fortune? There are no right or wrong answers here as long as you are honest with yourself, but the greater your ambition, the more it will cost you in time, effort, and personal sacrifice.

Assuming you want to continue, the rest is rather straightforward.

  • Read everything, both in and out of the genre you want to write in.
  • Write furiously as if each word may be your last. (It just might be) Even if no one sees it, no writing is ever wasted.
  • Take the craft seriously and study it. That is much easier now with the web.
  • Get knowledgeable feedback on your work. It will save you tons of time and wasted effort.

There is no single approach to writing that works for everyone, so this is ultimately a process of self-discovery as much as anything.

Hopefully some of this may help someone. Thank you for your time and patience.

Oh, my, Jeff, thank you for such an in-depth, revealing, and valuable interview!


O.K., Folks—time to ask Jeff some questions in the Comments :-)
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#NaNoWriMo Tips from a NonNaNoWriMo Guy . . .

I am so NonNaNoWriMo I can’t even take the time to devise my own brand of tips for the Event/Effort/Enterprise (heck, I didn’t even think about putting anything on this blog until after the starting gun went off… :-)

So, here’s bookishpixie with her NaNoWriMo Tips:
{ And, some of her tips are good for NonNaNoWriMoers, too… }
Also, if you are doing NaNoWriMo, why are you reading this blog… :-)

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Is Voice Recognition Software As Good As They Say It is?

Voice recognition software’s been around for quite awhile now.

Voice Recognition Software

Image Courtesy of Julia Freeman-Woolpert ~

I haven’t tried it yet (except to run a couple Google Searches) but an article on the ALLi blog—Writing: Voice Recognition Software – Is It the Author’s New Best Friend?—peaked my interest.

Even if you’re not a serious writer, give it a read…

I thought I’d do my normal reportorial routine and give you excerpts from my link-out but my Best Friend, Author Jane Watson, has been using voice recognition software for quite awhile and was kind enough to give us this appraisal (the links were added by me, not Jane’s VRS):

“I first tried voice recognition software about 25 years ago. At that time voice recognition was in its infancy and, in my opinion, the programs that were available to individual users then, who did not have a special need (which perhaps qualified them for funded software, costing around $10,000), were very limited, experimental, and hardly worked at all.  I tried to use a program for the Mac called “iListen”. It could have been more appropriately called “I shout at you and you ignore me”. So many frustrated users would raise their voices when they were trying to talk to it, that there was actually an instruction in the manual telling the user that the program would not hear them better if they yelled….

“Then things improved. First with Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Windows and then DragonDictate for the Mac. At this point I began to get results that were nothing short of miraculous. I did not expect a program like this to be able to transcribe a writer’s thoughts, sometimes my sentences were long and convoluted, sometimes they did not follow what I would call conventional syntax, and yet this marvellous piece of software took it mostly in its stride. I had a special page of dictation that I used to test new microphones  – this page described a visit to a country town near where I lived and referred to an incident that had occurred, regarding the loss of a coat. Imagine my astonishment the first time I dictated this passage and DragonDictate was able to immediately recognise the word, Daylesford,  the name of the, not very well known, country town.

“I don’t agree that you cannot use software like this to ‘talk’, i.e. you have to consciously ‘dictate’. It is true that when I first began to voice my writing I found it difficult to relax and feel that I was actually ‘writing’. Initially it seemed odd to voice punctuation such as ‘comma’ or ‘ellipses’, but after a while this became second nature, just as folks once learned to press return on the keyboard instead of pushing the lever on a typewriter. This process of acclimatisation and learned relaxation is very similar to the struggle people had when they moved from the old typewriters to the new word processors. No one ever thought they would be able to write on those either…

“I realised however that I had reached the point where the software had become a tool that could increase my creativity when I did Nanowrimo, which is the insane attempt to write a 50,000 word novel every year in the month of November.  In one month I dictated all 50,000 words into Scrivener, my choice of writing software, and when I reached the end and read through what I had written I realised that what I had written was no better or no worse than what I would have done if I had pounded the keyboard – some was drivel, some seemed to have promise :-)

“In the last couple of years the accuracy of voice recognition software has become even better. It now literally takes hardly more than five minutes to train the software to a standard where it can actually start recognising your voice no matter what accent you use.

“Do I use this program every day? No, but I should. I am still a little hesitant that folks may hear me talking to the computer. But I am going to get over it. It saves an enormous  amount of time and frees me up to think. In fact, I have just dictated these paragraphs whilst relaxing in my armchair.

“Microphone off.”
Jane lives in Australia
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NaNoWriMo Has Some GREAT Sponsor FREEBIES !!

National Novel Writing Month will start in two days—various writers with various motivations will write 50,000 words (usually not edited at all)—1666.67 words per day (for an 8 hour day, 208.33 words per hour…).

I’m not the type of writer that does something like this, though I’ve easily written 208+ words per hour many, many times.

It’s not that I couldn’t do NaNoWriMo, it’s that I don’t have sufficient motivation to be in a “contest”—still, I don’t think it’s a bad thing—great discipline for lots of folks—riotous fun for a few

And, the companies who’ve given $6,000 dollars or more to support NaNoWriMo are giving some super great freebies!

We can thank My Best Friend for letting us know about these 16 Fabulous Offers:

Two free paperback copies of a finished book for NaNoWriMo winners

CreateSpace is proud to support Wrimos. We invite you to explore easy and rewarding independent publishing, take advantage of free tools, or choose from our everyday low priced professional services. In addition, NaNoWriMo winners can get two free paperback copies of their finished book. Get started here.

Scrivener - Outline. Edit. Storyboard. Write.

50% off Scrivener for all NaNoWriMo winners, and 20% off for all participants

Scrivener is an award-winning word processor and project management tool for the Mac and Windows that has been enthusiastically adopted by best-selling novelists and novices alike. As a NaNoWriMo 2013 winner, you will be eligible for a 50% discount on Scrivener’s regular license on either the Mac or Windows platform—see the “Winner’s Goodies” page on December 5 for details. For those who participated and didn’t make their 50,000 words, use the code NANOWRIMO for 20% off until January 1, 2014.

Write on Wattpad; Win $2,000.

Wattpad is a free writing and reading app that unlocks a global audience of more than 18 million readers. It is mobile and web-based, meaning that your writing is always with you, wherever and whenever you find inspiration and time to write. In honor of NaNoWriMo, Wattpad will be offering a $2,000 prize to one lucky NaNoWriMo winner who is also a Wattpad user. Find out how to enter.

Free Manuscript Review and Hardcover: Learn what kind of writer you are and who’s most likely to read your book and The Book Genome Project invite all NaNoWriMo participants to receive a free personality profile of your book – a customized analysis of your manuscript, with insights into what makes your writing unique and who the best audience is for your book. When you’ve reached a good stopping point with your manuscript, you can privately and securely upload it to receive this free report through the end of 2013.

When you’re ready to print your book, you’ll receive a free copy of your First Edition Hardcover when you publish your book on

Claim these exclusive WriMo offers now at

Storyist Software

50% off Storyist for Mac for NaNoWriMo winners, 25% off just for participating!

Storyist is a powerful novel writing environment for Mac,  iPad, and iPhone. Storyist for Mac has some great self-publishing tools, too. Perfect for NaNoWriMo! Get 50% off Storyist for Mac if you win—see the “Winner’s Goodies” page on December 5 for details. If you don’t make it to 50k this year, you can still get 25% off Storyist for Mac at the Storyist Store through December 15, 2013 using the coupon “NANOWRIMO13″. And be sure to download the special NaNoWriMo trial version which allows you to use Storyist for Mac for free for the month of November.

Swoon Reads is looking for teen romance manuscripts! Submit to be considered for a $15,000 publishing contract

Writers whose manuscripts are considered most Swoon-worthy by both the community and the publishing board will be given a standard Macmillan publishing contract with a $15,000 advance, and their book will be published in both print and e-book formats—including editing, design, marketing and sales. Submit your manuscript today!

Write your novel on Leanpub and share your royalties with NaNoWriMo

Leanpub is a free publishing service designed to let you publish your book while you’re writing it. Its powerful features let you publish your book early so you can get reader feedback, and let you publish new versions as often as you like with one click. You can set your own minimum and suggested prices and earn great royalties, or you can make your book free. And you can share a portion of any royalties you earn with NaNoWriMo, directly supporting the cause with your own writing.

Planners/Winners save 40%, all participants 20% off our normal $US40 price

We are once again proud to sponsor NaNoWriMo by offering special discounts on Aeon Timeline for both Mac and Windows users. Aeon Timeline is a timeline tool for creative thinking, designed specifically to help writers capture, create and explore complex ideas in an intuitive, attractive interface. Whether you are a planner or a pantser, Aeon Timeline can help you nail down those plot points before you race towards 50,000 words or edit your work afterwards. We will be posting special NaNoWriMo content throughout October and November, so check our NaNoWriMo page regularly for discount codes and support material.

Ten free eBooks for NaNoWriMo Winners!

Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is hard work, so we made the next step easy for you. Kobo Writing Life is a one-stop, do-it-yourself publishing platform helping authors reach millions of readers in over 190 countries. For all NaNoWriMo participants, we are delighted to offer a free eBook copy of Joanna Penn’s excellent title, How To Market A Book. Head over to and enter the code NANOFREE at checkout (code expires 9/30/2014).

NaNoWriMo winners will get 10 free eBooks chosen by the Kobo Writing Life staff, ranging from books on writing and marketing your book, to our favorite new fiction picks. See the “Winner’s Goodies” page on December 5 for details.

Get a free copy of “Twitter for Authors in Ten Minutes a Day”

In this exclusive guide for NaNoWriMo participants, BookBaby (the largest eBook distribution network for independent authors) outlines a strategy for you to effectively promote your book on Twitter without getting sucked into another social media black hole. After all, if you’re going to get to 50,000 words, you can’t spend all day tweeting!

Download your free copy of “Twitter for Authors”.

Join Book Country and find your first audience; 30% off publishing package and featured placement!

Book Country is a free online writing and publishing community dedicated to helping writers connect with each other to create their best books and discover the first audience for their work. Come workshop your manuscript with our supportive community and we’ll feature it on the site so everyone will know you’re a NaNoWriMo writer. Ready to publish? To celebrate 30 days of hard work, take 30% off Book Country’s Landmark publishing package through December 31, 2013 with code NANO. We’ll also feature all novels in our bookstore. Check back Nov. 15 for a special offer for NaNoWriMo winners!

50% off Spark: A Creative Anthology for winners and 20% off for all participants

Published quarterly in print and eBook formats, Spark: A Creative Anthology features the freshest writing from a range of talented writers, from established professionals to newly-emerging authors and poets.  We’re delighted to offer 20% off single volumes or one- and two-year subscriptions for all NaNoWriMo participants and 50% off for all winners. Use the coupon code NaNoWriMo13 to claim your 20% discount, and check the “Winner Goodies” page on December 5 for the winner discount.

Save 40% on Wide Distribution from FastPencil—and win a consultation with bestselling author Angela Sage Larsen!

FastPencil offers easy-to-use tools to help you write, edit, and format your book. And our Wide Distribution service will make your book available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major outlets. For a limited time, you can save 40% on our Wide Distribution package—just use Promo Code NNWM40 when registering. Also, sign up for free to try using FastPencil and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win a free consultation with bestselling FastPencil Premiere author Angela Sage Larsen along with free Wide Distribution packages.

One-year all-access Golden Ticket to any LitFactor event; discounts from Authoright

Sign up to LitFactor and receive a special one-year all-access Golden Ticket to any LitFactor event, anywhere in the world. These events include seminars, pitching events, and meetings with literary agents. Sign up a friend to LitFactor and they will receive a Golden Ticket to any LitFactor event, anywhere in the world, too.

LitFactor helps authors submit to literary agents—we are a literary matchmaker, designed to unite unpublished authors with literary agents, online, to support the discovery of new writing talent. We also provide you with up to date news direct from agents such as what they are looking for right now as well as expert advice from agents and inside tips from published authors. And it’s all free. All Wrimos signing up with us will also qualify for exclusive advance invitations to reserve a place at LitFactor’s online events featuring panels of literary agents, experts and publishers. Once you have signed up, email us at

Also, all NaNoWriMo participants can have a free consultation and receive 10% off Authoright’s extensive list of services and 25% off any editing services.

Authoright helps authors self publish well. We are the only author agency with offices in both the UK and US, and since 2005 we have become the leading provider of book marketing services, working with authors and publishers alike. We also support and advise authors who are thinking about publishing. All NaNoWriMo participants qualify to receive 10% off Authoright’s extensive list of services and 25% off any editing services.

50% off Author Concierge Service membership for NaNoWriMo winners ($120 value), and 20% off for all participants.

Now that you have written a novel, BiblioCrunch can guide you through the process of publishing your book through our Author Concierge Service. We provide a personalized concierge service for authors, complete with phone and email contact, an opportunity for one-stop shopping for your entire project, and more. We’ll help you find quality, award-winning professionals you need to take your NaNoWriMo work to the next level. Need an editor for your novel or maybe a book cover? Post your project and watch the proposals pour in from our group of rated and reviewed editors, designers, proofreaders, and other quality publishing experts.

The best part is that it is free! So, try us free first on, and if you like what you see, consider upgrading to a premium membership. All winners get a free phone consultation about their novel. See the “Winner’s Goodies” page on December 5 for details.

All NaNoWriMo writers are invited to submit their stories to compete for monthly cash awards!

We are thrilled to be a part of NaNoWriMo this year—and a proud sponsor! Our publishing platform helps aspiring and published authors get their stories discovered, polished, and promoted. Plus, all stories get to compete for our top 30 monthly cash awards. It’s easy to submit and we only ask for the first chapter. We invite writers of all genres, fiction or non-fiction, to check out JukePop Serials to learn more. So take your NaNoWriMo challenge to the next step and get your story discovered by submitting your story starting December 1, 2013.
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NaNoWriMo and Publishing . . .

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner.

This is something I, personally, would never do but I certainly can recommend it to others.

The concept is simple—for the thirty days of November put down 1666.67 words per day.

In brief, from their site, you can:

Write a novel in a month!
Track your progress.
Get pep talks and support.
Meet fellow writers online and in person.

Also from their site:

“The very first NaNoWriMo took place in July, 1999, in the San Francisco Bay Area. That first year there were 21 of us, and our July noveling binge had little to do with any ambitions we might have harbored on the literary front. Nor did it reflect any hopes we had about tapping more fully into our creative selves. No, we wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twentysomethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.”

And, thanks to an article-prompt from The Guardian, I can add something NaNoWriMo could help you do—publish that novel on Kindle Direct.

The work you do in November can be a first draft, with all the typos and fractured sentences they usually have.

So, before publishing comes the necessary editing/revision/formatting.

Also, rather than doing all that work yourself and uploading the novel to Kindle Direct, I suggest you check out FastPencil.

So, here’s the idea:

Get motivation and help writing 50,000 words from NaNoWriMo.

Then, log in to FastPencil and upload what you’ve written.

Then, do all the following for Free:

Invite friends to review your work as you revise and edit it—they can make helpful comments on the site.

Invite folks with editing experience to help you—they get permission from you to make changes in the manuscript.

Download as many proof versions as you need till you’re satisfied the novel is done.

Upload front and back cover images.

Insert all the front- and back-matter—title page, copyright page, dedication page, forward, afterword, etc.

Download more proofs

All that was Free!

When you’re completely, satisfied you can publish; and, I recommend their Wide-Distribution Plan.

$300 gets you print and ebook versions distributed to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple’s Book Service.

You’re also distributed to Ingram which libraries and bookstores use to order their stock.

Ingram availability also, instantly, lets many other online retailers offer your book—without you doing a thing to attract them.

FastPencil collects all the royalties and pays you each quarter

Then, comes the Really Hard Work (but, do check out these posts for something you really should do before you publish).

Try reading our 27 posts on Book Promotion for that Really Hard Work
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