James Floyd Kelly

Writer and Swashbuckler-for-Hire

Change in plans…

I wasn’t able to get any writing done yesterday and probably won’t get any done today… my wife and I are expecting our second child in 2 weeks and I’ve got a list of TO DOs a mile long… and I’m taking my 3 year old son for his 3 year doctor’s appt and keeping him out of daycare today… SO… maybe a bit of work done during naptime today, but not counting on it.

Looks like Ch14 won’t get started until Monday… argh.

On another subject, still no word on the iPad proposal.  The good thing about proposals is that if one publisher says no, you just send it on to the next one.  I think my proposal is a good one, so if they turn it down I’ve got another publisher I think might like it… still, I’m hoping to hear some news today, good or bad.  Hopefully good.

I’m also working on a project with a friend in Brisbane, Australia.  We’ve got a writing project idea that we’re going to work on together… should be interesting.  Hoping to work on it this summer and have it ready by Aug/Sept time frame.


May 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thar’s a spy ’round here!

I was hoping to finish Chapter 13 today but I think I need a page or two to wrap it up properly to set up the opening scene for Chapter 14.  It’s tricky, so I’m going to ponder on it for a bit…

The hero has just been told that there may be a spy in the organization that he’s helping… it makes sense to him because he’s had one major ambush that was a little too easy to setup.  Now that he knows/suspects someone’s working against him, it’s going to be more difficult making decisions because he doesn’t know who to trust anymore… this plot point helps in many ways, but right now it’s going to help me give the hero more autonomy since he’s less likely to ask or share his thoughts and decisions with the team.

Chapter 14 is going to be another fun one… lots of setup but a major plot twist that’s going to throw Chapter 15 a crazy curve and point the story in a slightly different direction for a bit… gonna be fun to write, too.

Still no word on the iPad proposal… getting a little nervous about it as I thought they’d try to get word to me by today so I’d have time to look over the contract and get it back to them by Friday… that’s how it’s worked in the past.  But I was also told one of the decision makers was out of town on Monday so who knows…

Today’s scorecard:

Word’s today: 1061
Words total: 26207
Current Chapter: ch13 – 90%
Pages written today: 6
Pages total: 112
Chapters completed: 12

May 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A rest for the hero…

I’ll have to go back and do some averaging to see if I’m hitting my 5 pages per day quota… somehow I think I may come in a little short, but maybe not.  What I am finding is that on the days I do write, I typically do nothing less than 4 pages.

Today I got started on Chapter 13 – without giving too much away, it starts with a break in the story and allows our hero to get a short rest… and I mean short… try about 5 minutes.  The scene is about to change, and there’ll be a large burst of action that runs over the next chapter or two.  The action scenes aren’t difficult to write, but the dialogue can be tricky because you can’t give away a lot with talk… you have to show, and in fast scenes like the upcoming ones, there’s not a lot of time to show either.  That’s probably not making sense because I’m not explaining the situation the hero is in… sorry.

I hit 923 words today before reaching the limits of the current scene… the next scene will be much longer, so it was a good place to stop.  I was anticipating a story of around 75,000 words, so today also got me to the unofficial 1/3 completed mark.  Until Draft 1 is done and rewrites begin, I honestly don’t know how many words the story will end up with (or how many chapters) but it’s nice to cross a rather important milestone in the book.  If it took me about 1 month to write the first 1/3, I’m hoping to have Draft 1 completed in the next 2 months… give or take.  With a new baby due in 3 weeks, it’s a bit hard to predict.  If anything, I’m determined to try and maintain a strict writing schedule during the day (even if it’s during the baby’s nap times) and hit my page counts.  It’s all guesses, really…

No word today on the iPad proposal, but it’s only Tuesday… still hoping to hear, yes or no, by Friday.  If yes, the editor has assigned a start date of May 31.  So I’ll have a few days free to prep for the writing (creating my template files, folder structures for documents and figures, etc).  I’m looking forward to this book – more details on its subject matter once I get the contract in place (if the book is given a go ahead).

Today’s scorecard:

Word’s today: 923
Words total: 25146
Current Chapter: ch13 – 50%
Pages written today: 4
Pages total: 106
Chapters completed: 12

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I like Mondays…

Given that probably 90% of the world hates Mondays, I figure I’ll give poor Monday a break and embrace it.  After a weekend, I’m typically jumpy and anxious to get back to writing.  Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, I don’t dread my work, so I guess I’m lucky there as I find that most friends and family seem to dread Mondays and going back to work.

Today started off nicely as I received a few emails from my editor telling me that the proposal for my iPad book was in the hands of the “higher ups” for approve/disapprove.  I spent part of Sunday adding more content to the proposal that was requested by said editor.  All in all, I’m very happy with the proposal and I can see how it’s developed over the last month… compared to that first proposal, this one is much tighter and focused than my previous proposals.  I’m hoping that will make it easier to write as I was forced to provide much more detail about the layout and content that will go into each chapter – with other proposals, I tend to have a sentence or two defining the purpose of a chapter (what will this chapter teach the reader?) and then I write the chapter later and make it up as I go… not this time.

So, after a few bits of business with my editor this morning and a couple of email responses for a few other books/projects, I got to work on finishing chapter 12 of the fiction story.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is scifi mixed with some military style weaponry in a modern day setting… that still doesn’t prevent me from making up some cutting-edge stuff, so today’s conclusion to ch12 found the hero being chased by these mini-helicopter devices carrying, what else… mini-missiles.  They’re remotely controlled, so the hero is definitely in trouble and still doesn’t know who is chasing him persistently… just some shadowy organization that he’s been given the barest of information about…

Got over 1200 words down and crossed the 100 page mark, so I’m pretty happy about that.  This chapter was a like one big chase scene with explosions and missiles and lots of dodging, and it was fun to write.  I already know there’ll be some serious cleanup and rewrites after Draft 1 is done, but I think I got the basic order of events down on paper… uh, screen.

Given that I’m unlikely to hear about the iPad book until later this week, I’m hoping to get ch13 and 14 done this week – according to my outline, ch15 is where a major change in the story takes place, and I’d like next weekend to ponder it before getting moving on it on Monday.

Today’s scorecard:

Word’s today: 1265
Words total: 24223
Current Chapter: ch12 – finished
Pages written today: 6
Pages total: 102
Chapters completed: 12

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What happened to my Friday?

Where did my Friday go?  The day started off great with me getting the news that my iPad proposal is almost ready to be approved… they requested a few more details in the proposal and even suggested some improvements that I absolutely will incorporate and wish I’d thought of!

The downside to this good news was that I had no time today to work on the fiction story.  Argh!  But the non-fiction pays the bills, and since I’m currently in-between books (that’s so funny to say – it’s the equivalent of saying in-between jobs for writers, I guess) I need to do what it takes to get a book project contracted.  So, while I feel a little down that I didn’t get to Chapter 12 today, I know I’ll spend some time this weekend thinking about the story and hopefully get back to it on Monday.  I was worried that a book project might interfere with my fiction story, but I really can’t complain if it happens since the fiction story is untested waters and may not ever see a bookshelf.

I’ve had a few requests about the story I’m writing – specifically, requests for non-spoiler details.  Okay… let me see if I can fill in some blanks.

First, the hero is a 14 year old boy in Southern California.  He’s a troublemaker, for sure.  It’s part action, part science fiction, okay – so you’ll have to just be patient with me in that there are some plot points that I simply cannot talk about… not that I’m worried about my friends stealing my story, but there are trolls out there who are always on the lookout… so let me just say that the hero finds himself whisked away by a secret govt laboratory where his dad is employed – something’s happened to his dad (sorry, can’t spoil that) and this group needs his help.  Why a 14 year old’s help?  His dad did something a while back that absolutely ensures that the hero is the only one who can help… and it will make sense, trust me.  He’s picked up, taken to a secret location, given the basic “save the world” situation (the world’s really not at risk, but you get the picture), and sent out to fix the problem.  Got it?  Keep in mind that it’s got elements of science fiction but it DOES take place in the present… no futuristic cities, flying cars, etc… it’s got some cutting edge stuff (look up Quantum Entanglement if you don’t believe me) as well as some cool military hardware (Reaper drones, anyone?) and some major bad guys.

Okay, hope that helps… I may choose to release some more details later, but for now just know that the hero is being chased… he’s retrieved something and needs to get it back to base… that’s it.

So, cross your fingers for me that the iPad book gets picked up – I’d really like to write it because it’s a fun subject and take on the iPad product that I haven’t seen yet.  And they’re bugging me to start thinking about another LEGO book starting up in July/August… need to get thinking about that…

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The chase continues…

I was very anxious to get Chapter 12 started today and was ready to jump straight to it this morning, but a couple of good things happened this morning along with some business items I had to tend to:

1.  I had to finish up the Dedication/AuthorBio/Introduction document for the NXT-G book – done.

2.  I got an  email from an editor asking me for the sample iPad chapter today instead of tomorrow.  That’s a good thing, as I was told in a follow-up phone call that they’re ready to make a decision and I think it’s going to be positive.

3.  I was emailed 6 chapters from a book where the author has basically quit writing.  The editor is looking for two writers to finish the book.  I’m thinking about it – it’s LEGO related but not a subject that I’m 100% familiar with, so not sure yet… will depend on a lot of factors, including who the other author is, chapter split, etc…

So, I got the sample chapter 70% finished because my editor told me that was enough – that alone tells me they’re probably going to green light the book.  I hope.  Now I’m doubting myself…

And the fiction chapter got about 33% into chapter 12… hero got out of the water tower (of course) and one of the key ‘bad guys’ is out of the picture – maybe permanently… not sure.  And the kid also managed to take a shot at the primary bad guy by throwing a rock through his windshield… totally unexpected at the end of today’s writing session but it felt right – this kid is a bit of a trouble-maker and if I were him, I’d totally put a rock into the windshield before taking off again. So, he’s running… and about to find out the lengths that the bad guys will go to get him.  Now I need to figure out the next scene’s details… I know where he starts and ends… gotta figure out what happens in between.  Fun.

Today’s scorecard:

Word’s today: 1008
Words total: 22958
Current Chapter: ch12 – 33%
Pages written today: 4
Pages total: 96
Chapters completed: 11

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Busy busy day… all over the place

So I got the last batch of PDF files this morning for the NXT-G book… got them finished up by 11am but then my editor hit me with two documents to fill out – one for the back cover text and the other for the Dedication/Introduction sections… so I got the back cover one done but need to think about the other one overnight…

While I was working on the PDFs I got another email from one of my editors hinting that the sample iPad book chapter might be useful to have before Friday.  Got it – loud and clear.  So for the last hour or so I’ve been writing “Chapter 3” which is supposed to give an overall idea of the language/style and layout of the other chapters that will be in the book.  It’s a total guess… I’ve learned over time that my vision of a book rarely looks like the finished version.  Even with non-fiction, you’re really making it up as you go… yes, I might have a template I’m supposed to follow, but there are always exceptions.

I wanted to take a break and work on my fiction story, but I can’t get my mind focused on it right now… maybe later this afternoon.  But right now I really want to get this sample chapter done because it’s much more likely to turn into a contract and paid work before the fiction story.  That said, I could write this thing and still have the publisher come back with a “not interested” response.

On top of all this, I also got an email from a friend that I’m supposed to provide assistance to in a month at a training class for teachers.  It’s a four hour training session on the NXT-G programming software for the NXT robot kits and I’m supposed to develop four or five programs to demonstrate certain programming techniques… I’ve got just over a month to get them done, but it’s still work on the pile.

So, right now… no scorecard for today.  I haven’t started Chapter 12 yet, but I know how it will start… this new chapter is going to be very fast-paced, so I really need to be focused on it… not feeling that way right now.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A good day for writing…

Feeling a bit guilty about not getting any writing done on the fiction story yesterday seems to have had a good effect on today’s writing – over 1800 words and I got Chapter 11 finished… and it ended with a great cliffhanger that I just love… the hero just jumped into a water tower.  He’s being chased, and while this really isn’t the best idea, it’s his only option.  So he jumped.  Of course, I’ve got an out planned.  But that’s for Chapter 12.

I got some feedback from some readers of my blog (and Facebook where I post a copy of the writing scorecard along with an even more brief summary of the day’s writing)… apparently a few of you actually LIKE the teasers I provide… I would have thought the opposite.  As much as I’d love to tell you more about the story and give you all the details, you’ll just have to stick with me and hope (HOPE!) that I can find a publisher for this thing when all the rewrites and revision work is done.  And if I can’t find a publisher… who knows… I’ll probably release it here for anyone who wants to read it.  But I’m hoping I can get it published to make up for the time and energy put into it… we’ll see.

Today’s scorecard:

Word’s today: 1879
Words total: 21950
Current Chapter: ch11 finished
Pages written today: 7
Pages total: 92
Chapters completed: 11

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A blah day…

No excuses for not writing on the fiction book today – just didn’t have the creative switch in the ON position.  Got tied up this morning with a bunch of stuff related to my NXT-G update book – a bunch of PDFs to review (only about 3 or 4 left) and a couple phone calls from my editor to discuss current book proposals I’ve submitted as well as a couple new book ideas they are pitching to me… one in particular sounds very interesting, so I’m going to mull it over today.

The iPad book is becoming frustrating – my latest book proposal is of interest but it’s lacking in some details that they need… so I need to take it back and rework it (for version 6.0).  I was asked to write a sample chapter so I’ll also be doing that this week… just not sure which chapter/subject I’ll tackle.

The publisher is also asking about more LEGO book ideas.  I’m happy to hear it, but I am so brain dead tired when it comes to LEGO stuff.  I definitely want to write more LEGO books, but I just finished one (well, actually am finishing one with the PDF reviews) so I’m a bit burned on the subject.  Need some time to recharge the robot design portion of my brain.

Decker had his birthday party this last weekend – 3 years old on Wednesday.  Every day he picks up new words and shows new behaviors… some I like… others not so much.  But as I watch him grow I can almost hear the little gears in his head spinning as he watches and learns new things… I’m constantly coming up with ideas for him and his friends.  Some of them would make interesting books, but I need to think them over a bit more.  One of the upcoming projects I’m working on is a Rocket Party for his friends… I’m working with the dad of one of his schoolmates to hold a party on July 3 to launch rockets with the 3 year olds in his class.  16 kids total, but I’m not expecting all of them to make it… still, it’ll be fun.  I’m building a compressed air device that can launch these cardboard rockets about 200 feet in the air with just a few stomps on a bicycle pump.  I’m hoping to get the rockets built by mid-June so I can figure out how best to let them paint or decorate them before launch.  It’s stuff like this that I enjoy working on, and I’m hoping to flesh out the party with something else… maybe a “hunt” for the rocket components or a game to assemble the air device… not sure.

It’s also stuff like this that allows me to take my brain off of writing for a bit… and lets me recharge.  I’ve got a LOT more activities planned for D as he gets older… so I don’t think I’ll run out of non-writing projects to play around with…

Anyway… back to writing a proposal for my editor… if I can’t get my mind on the fiction book, I’ll point it at the non-fiction stuff.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No… he cannot fly.

So, when last we left our hero, he was falling from the sky from a not-so-safe height.  I can’t give away too many secrets of the story, but let’s just say he survived… I started ch11 today and got about halfway into it.  I don’t know why, but my subconscious must be trying to stick me to 10 page chapters.  Or not… but it does seem to always work out that way.  I like it, though – they’re not too long.

I broke the 20,000 word line today – pretty cool.  For my non-fiction books, it’s always about pages, not word count.  So I’m not used to measuring my work by number of words typed.  That’s what makes it so surprising – I can’t believe I’m cranked out 20,000 words.  I’m about 1/4 done with the novel.  Just having that big 25% done is a huge motivation for getting the rest done… and I’m sure hitting the 50% mark will be even better.  I have no idea if I’ll ever get this book actually published (after revisions and new drafts, of course), but the fact that I’ll have finished a real fiction story for kids will be a nice benchmark and accomplishment.

Speaking of tracking your writing – a new novelist named Cherie Priest is a writer whose blog I follow.  I’ve only read one of her books, Boneshaker, but it was great.  She still has a “real” job and writes in evenings/weekends.  Up to now, she’s been posting her own scorecard for her next book, but her blog recently announced that she’s shelving the book for now to work on other writing projects.  I’m disappointed only because I’ve been able to follow along with her in my own writing… she got up to around 12,000 words and then pulled the plug.  It was motivational each day to see her wordcount go up as mine went up… maybe she’ll start another novel and start a new scorecard.

Not much else going on with other books – next week I need to write a sample chapter for the iPad book, even though there’s no guarantee the book will get contracted.  It’s a gamble, but at least they didn’t ask me to write 3 chapters which is sometimes required of new writers.  I guess they trust me at this point to know what I’m doing… (I hope I know what I’m doing at this point.)

Anyway… my son’s birthday party is tomorrow and in-laws are in town… no work this weekend (which is fine with me).  It’ll give me a few days to develop the conclusion to chapter 11…

Word’s today: 1211
Words total: 20071
Current Chapter: ch11 50%
Pages written today: 6
Pages total: 84
Chapters completed: 10

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment