James Floyd Kelly

Writer and Swashbuckler-for-Hire

Let’s take care of that spy first…

I got Chapter 27 finished today, but it wasn’t the ch27 I had originally planned… this was supposed to be the big fight between the hero and the Big Bad Guy, but it just didn’t make sense for this fight to occur before the spy was taken care of… so chapter 27 closes the spy subplot… he/she is cornered and using a hostage situation to try to stay in control… which isn’t going to happen.

So… chapter 28 is going to be the final showdown… and it’s got a great fight ending, too… I came up with the fight’s end a long time back, and I’ve been anxious to write this chapter simply because I love how it ends.  I’m hoping to avoid having it spill over into chapter 29.

Which brings me to the story structure – as far as I can tell, the story will end with Chapter 30… and Ch30 really won’t be that long… kind of an epilogue or wrap-up that doesn’t need to go on and on… so… wordcount.  As it stands, I’m estimating that Chapters 28, 29, and 30 will add about 6000 to 8000 words to the final count… bringing the Draft 1 total to a maximum of 66,000 words, give or take.  It’s almost done, folks.  (Draft 1, that is.)

Some of the authors I know and/or follow are mixed on Draft 2 – some come in shorter, some come in longer… I’m betting on longer for me simply because I know some of the earlier chapters were a bit thin on dialogue and scene description… so I’ll take the 66000 estimate and be happy with it, knowing that I’ll likely push 70000… maybe even 75,000 for Draft 2.

Looking back at the blog, I started this story on March 29, 2010… so just a hair over 3 months to complete it.  Not good… but not bad either.  My first non fiction books used to take me 5 to 6 months to complete and I’m now able to get them hammered out in 3 or 4, draft to final.  So if I do decide to write another YA novel, I’m hoping it’ll get easier and faster… towards the end of the book here, I’ve been nailing one chapter per day (of course, I’m not involved in a non-fiction writing project right now, either) so now I see how some of my writer colleagues are able to crank out a Draft 1 in less than 2 months… that’ll be a future goal, but not for this one.

So… 3 more chapters left.  And here’s today’s scorecard and Progress Bar (with updated wordcount) – that 88% sure does look nice…

Word’s today: 1826
Words total: 58631
Current Chapter: ch27 finished
Pages written today: 9
Pages total: 249
Chapters completed: 27

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June 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bad Guys- 0, Good Guy – 1

I couldn’t quite hit the 3000 word mark today – but chapter 26 reached 2600+ and ended with a nice cliffhanger.  A lot happened here – the hero beat back the bad guys… the spy was revealed (and has managed to provide some mis-information to the hero)… and the Big Bad Guy is back, ready for the final showdown and the end of the story.

Chapter 27 should be fun… battle royale with the BBG.  And there’s still the spy issue that has to be resolved, along with a few items that can provide (maybe) some interesting material for a sequel (or two… or three…) – the character I’ve tried to flesh out is someone I’m hoping to visit again… I guess that’s the hope of any author is to possibly develop a book that could turn into more books… as it stands, this story can end on its own with no further stories to be told… but I’ve dropped enough dialogue here and there to setup a few more adventures.  We’ll see.

Only 4 chapters left… I think.  It’s hard to know how long or how far Chapters 27, 28, and 29 will go… the story could realistically be wrapped up by chapter 30… I’m not really worried about page count as Draft 2 will likely provide more background material and dialogue in key scenes.  I’ve done some digging on a few publishers and found that their Young Adult Fiction books typically fall between 50,000 and 100,000 words… so I’ll be coming in around the mid point with 70,000 or so.  I’m already up to 240 pages, and 300 was another goal… so I’m almost there.

Hard to believe Draft 1 is almost finished… the ending of the story is really writing itself.  This makes sense since I’ve had much more time to mull over the ending of the book as I’ve written the building chapters… the ending is much more nailed down than the opening chapters… both of which will likely get scrapped (ch1 and ch2) so I can jump the story into the main plot faster.

I’ve got some feelers out to some writer friends I have… asking for some help/suggestions on Draft 2 revising/editing.  We’ll see what they can share to help me get Draft 2 cleaned up and ready for some reviewers.

Here’s today’s scorecard and Progress Bar – broke 70%  – Yeehaw.  (And if the word count is adjusted to what I believe it will be, I’m closer to 85-90% completed – will try to adjust the pagecount later in the week.)

Word’s today: 2672
Words total: 56805
Current Chapter: ch26 finished
Pages written today: 11
Pages total: 240
Chapters completed: 26

June 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Backstabbing and Sneakin’ Around…

I finished chapter 25 today… over 2000 words and the hero is now back on friendly ground.  The bad guys, with the help of the actual spy (wrong person incorrectly identified and arrested in an earlier chapter), have managed to launch a surprise attack to cover the Big Bad Guy who is injured, angry, and in a really bad position – kill or be killed kinda thing.  It’s all leading up to a few explosive chapters that reveal the spy and cover the Final Showdown.

Chapter 25 had a few plot points that were incorrectly explained in a much earlier chapter (maybe ch3 or ch4), so I had to add that to my Fix Sheet… nothing major… one is just to mention the name of a minor character early on in the story as his introduction later in the book might be confusing… he was just “technician” in chapter 3 or 4, but now he’s got a name because I needed a minor character involved in a bit of dialogue and continually referring to him as “the technician” gets old…

New baby has his days/nights messed up, so he sleeps longer during the day when he should be doing that at night.  It’s not messing (too much) with my writing schedule but I can see a day here or there where I might not get some writing done if he’s awake during my writing hours… I don’t expect my wife (on maternity leave) to always cover during my writing hours, so I’ll have to be a little “bend-y” on this…

Feeling pretty good about the story… definitely managed to squeeze in some nice twists and surprises in the dialogue that I plan on keeping in Draft 2.  Hopefully.  Looking forward to finishing Draft 1 so I can get to work on cleanup and get this thing (hopefully) presentable and in the hands of a few test readers for feedback.  I can definitely tell that the last half of the book has been much easier to write… so I’m thinking Draft 2 will have a LOT of heavy rewrites in the first half… who knows…

Today’s scorecard and Progress Bar:

Word’s today: 2149
Words total: 54133
Current Chapter: ch25 finished
Pages written today: 10
Pages total: 229
Chapters completed: 25

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

I love it when a plan comes together…

I didn’t have a chance yesterday to do any writing, but I also didn’t have any motivation either… so it’s probably a good thing that I got a day off… gave me a chance to think about Chapter 24 and get it plotted properly.  I think I did okay… managed to get over 3000 words down and all the major and minor characters are in place and ready for the big showdown finale.

With only 7 chapters left in the story, the book is looking like it’ll come in around 70,000 words.  I’m not going to adjust my Progress Bar wordcount yet… I’ll leave it at 80,000 until I get up to around Chapter 28… by then, I’ll know if the story is going to break 70,000 or not.  Chapters 25 through 28 make up the big finale of the story, so I’m unsure of how the page/wordcounts will go…

Today’s scorecard and Progress Bar:

Word’s today: 3076
Words total: 51984
Current Chapter: ch24 finished
Pages written today: 13
Pages total: 219
Chapters completed: 24

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

Hit and Run

Chapter 23 is finished – only got 900 words out today, but there wasn’t anything else to tell for this chapter.  The hero is on the run again, heading for home… hurt.  (But so is the Big Bad Guy).  The next 7 or 8 chapters will build to the final showdown of the story.

This kid is fun to write… he’s got a bit of an attitude, so knowing his chance to escape had arrived, he did what most kids would do – he took a final parting shot before running.  The Big Bad Guy didn’t expect it, which makes it slightly humorous but also adds to the growing hate between these two.

Chapter 24 will be another setup chapter – but this one will have 3 or 4 action scene changes as the minor characters, both good and bad, get into position and a few key motives are explained to answer almost (not all) of the reader’s questions.  A lot of things to resolve in 8 chapters, but I think I’ve outlined the story well enough that I won’t go over… I will allow myself 1 or 2 extra chapters if I feel something needs an entire chapter rather than a breakaway-and-return plot point.

I also did something I shouldn’t have… I went back and re-read the first 5 chapters… horrible.  Shouldn’t have done that.  So many mistakes, wimpy dialogue, incomplete scene descriptions… makes me wish I was done with Draft 1 so I could get to work on Draft 2 and fix all these things.  Nose to the grindstone… 8 chapters or so left.

Today’s scorecard and Progress Bar – argh… only a 1% increase.  A bit depressing… but more motivation to hit 2000-3000 tomorrow.

Word’s today: 906
Words total: 48908
Current Chapter: ch23 finished
Pages written today: 4
Pages total: 206
Chapters completed: 23

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fighting never solved anything… wrong!

Maybe it’s coming off a long weekend (no work on Friday) but it was a bit hard to get into the roll of writing today – I wanted to get Chapter 23 finished, but only got about halfway.  The hero and the Big Bad Guy are fighting, their first real encounter (but not their last) but the fight’s been interrupted by the Big Bad Guy’s backup squad of Little Bad Guys… they’re flinging bullets and what-not… I’m sure the Big Bad Guy won’t approve, but this is the last time (in the book) that we’ll have all these players together in a major scene… (I think).

I’ll finish up Ch23 tomorrow and get things resolved so the hero can begin his trip “home” and trigger the closing conflict…

Today’s scorecard and Progress Bar – Woo Hoo! Hit the 60% completed mark!

Word’s today: 1423
Words total: 48002
Current Chapter: ch23 50%
Pages written today: 6
Pages total: 202
Chapters completed: 22

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

My latest tech book is out….

I got my author copies of NXT-G Programming Guide 2nd Edition today… the book looks good.  I managed to add over 100 new pages to the 1st Edition and fix some errors… hopefully the book will do as well as the 1st edition.  As it stands, this was my last tech book to write… I have no current non-fiction writing projects, but I do have a few that are in the early stages.  Still no word on the iPad book proposal… a bit torn on how I feel there… I want to write the book but I’m also enjoying some down time while I work on the fiction story.  I could probably inquire… but not today.

Brought Sawyer home today… glad to have my wife and newborn son home.  I’m hoping to take advantage of her being home for 3 months maternity leave and get some writing done… and hopefully Draft 2 of the fiction book.  After Draft 2 is done, I’ll float it out there to a few friends/family for feedback and incorporate that into Draft 3… but once Draft 2 is done, I plan on picking right back up on the next story… no big break.

One of my publishers is starting to push for another LEGO robotics books… I still have more that I want to do on  that subject, but I’m so burned out on LEGO robotics right now… over 5 or 6 books in less than 3 years and I’m feeling a bit stretched for ideas.  Got a few good ones, but not the mental energy or interest to dig deep and develop a proposal right now.

Last year I teamed up with a friend, Patrick, to write Build Your Own CNC Machine… apparently it’s doing fairly well.  Apress has expressed interest in another similar book and we’ve got one in mind that we’re hoping to pitch a proposal to in the next few weeks or month… if that gets the green light, I’ll have another device to build and test and document… but it should be fun.

As predicted, I don’t have much time today to sit down and get started on chapter 23… so I’m going to do some thinking and mull over some dialogue and action scenes that I want to throw into the mix… I’m sure by Monday I’ll be anxious to get writing… I’d go now, but I’d have to call a hard stop in 1 hour and would prefer to have 3 or 4 good straight hours of writing for ch23… so… until Monday… have a good weekend, all.

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

Let’s get ready to RUMMMBLLLLEEEE….

Well, I finished ch22 today and hit just over 2000 words… the hero managed to escape the main group of baddies but now he’s going to have to fight the Big Bad Guy.  Well, one of them.  Heh.

Today’s chapter took place in an airplane graveyard… a great place to stage a few fight scenes.  Lots of places to hide, blow up, shoot up, and in general cause mayhem.  I’ll have to make a note in my Fix Sheet to return to this chapter and provide some additional explosions from the baddies who might have… oh, I don’t know… shoulder mounted rockets… maybe calling in artillery coordinates?  I don’t know… I’ll ponder it, but I can guarantee I’ll need to fill this chapter out a bit more with some additional fighting and explosions.

Chapter 23 is an important chapter… my wife and new baby are coming home from the hospital tomorrow, so I’ll likely be unable to tackle it tomorrow.  But that’s okay – I need some time to mull over the middle and end of this chapter… I already know how it begins as Ch22 ended with a nice cliffhanger.

The book is winding down… I’m fairly certain that Draft 1 will end with 31 chapters, but Draft 2 could end up with more or less… just don’t know.  I do know that I’m likely to cut the first chapter… maybe even the 2nd chapter… and get the story faster into the major plot and action.  And that’ll involve a serious rewrite.  But first I need to finish Draft 1… 9 more chapters to go!  9!  Less than 10!  Unbelievable.

For those keeping score, here’s today’s stats and Progress Bar.  Just a quick note – the 80000 word count is a best guess, and it’s possible with the final chapter (31) that I may or may not hit that mark.  But as it stands, with 9 chapters left and about 34,000 words, each chapter will need to average about 3500 words which is very unlikely… may have to adjust the final wordcount for the Progress Bar once I hit Chapter 27 or 28.

Word’s today: 2059
Words total: 46579
Current Chapter: ch22 finished
Pages written today: 9
Pages total: 196
Chapters completed: 22

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

Surrounded… sort of…

Argh… almost 3000 words today… ALMOST!  I’m not really that upset, but I did set a goal of 3000+ words today but the story wrapped up at 2924.  Oh, well. Still… Chapter 21 starts a 3 chapter arc that’s going to be fairly involved… a lot of fighting and action scenes to describe.  One leads into another, so Chapter 21 managed to find our hero trapped inside a decommissioned B-52 (at an airplane graveyard – fun place to visit) and surrounded on three sides by baddies… what about the fourth side?  That’s for Chapter 22…

I also encountered a major plot point today that got changed slightly back in an earlier chapter.  It’s so weird to write a chapter with a major item changed (for example, in Chapter 2 you call a major character Tom but in Chapter 22 you decide to change the gender and call her Betty – that kind of change).  I know that I’ll go back and fix this plot point but just knowing it’s there bugs me a bit… continuity is very difficult in Draft 1, and other writers I’ve spoken to tell me it happens all the time, so I’m not worried that it’s my lack of planning… but it’s still a bit of an annoyance in the back of my head.

Last night I also had a great story pop in my head… well, the start of one.  I had to run down to my laptop and type up four paragraphs that covered the major plot before I went to bed and forgot it.  I’ll just add that to the 3 or 4 other stories that I’ve developed over the last year or two… not sure which one I’ll tackle after I finish this one and submit it to some agents or publishers… but I do not plan to stop writing.  I’ll do what other writers tell me – move on to the next story and try to forget about the one that’s floating out there.  This new one isn’t science fiction, but is more Goonies mixed with Die Hard… weird combo, but I loved the idea enough to write it down so it must be something important to my subconscious.

Anyway… here’s today’s scorecard and Progress Meter… definitely moving past the 50% mark with a bullet… 60%, here I come…

Word’s today: 2924
Words total: 44520
Current Chapter: ch21 finished
Pages written today: 12
Pages total: 187
Chapters completed: 21

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Even bad guys have their own BAD GUY!

Well, baby Sawyer arrived at 10:53am yesterday… and I did quite well spending the entire day with wife and family and didn’t even think about the writing thing… well, not until I got home later in the evening, but by then I was simply too tired… but today my wife said “Go write” and gave me permission to take some time and go hunker down at the coffee shop to crank out a chapter… I’ve had plenty of time to mull this one over, so it went fast but is fairly accurate to what I meant for the chapter and the plot.

There’s a bad guy… but even he has someone he answers to and chapter 20 introduced a hint of this person (name and basic background plus a few sentences of dialogue that hint of things to come – either in this book or maybe a sequel if that’s ever a possibility).  The bad guy’s bad guy.  And a bit more of the story is explained, including a few plot points that I’ve been trying to find a way to introduce.  At the 50% mark, it’s time for surprises to end, so I think I’ve done a pretty good job of getting the major plot points explained, all the major characters introduced, etc… the rest of the chapters will focus on building the conflict to the end and then resolution… hopefully.

Chapter 20 was another setup chapter, but this one takes place in the bad guy’s realm.  A major set of events is about to occur in Chapter 21 through maybe Chapter 24, and a lot of people need to be put into place and a few situations setup… and all that’s done.  Now the gunfire and explosions can start up again… but this time the hero is ticked off and his confidence has increased… he’s mad and not afraid of a fight.  Chapter 21 should be fun…

Today’s scorecard and Progress Meter:

Word’s today: 1527
Words total: 41596
Current Chapter: ch20 finished
Pages written today: 6
Pages total: 175
Chapters completed: 20

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment