James Floyd Kelly

Writer and Swashbuckler-for-Hire

Story #2 – all subplots and minor characters now in play

Only had time to work on Story #2 today… no revision work on Story #1.  Today’s ch9 managed to add 2500 words to the story, pushing it to 86 pages and all the major and minor characters are now introduced and the main plot is moving forward… hero has a date, too… which is kinda cool.

I also got the schedule yesterday for the new non-fiction book – 27 chapters, with final delivery date in Feb 2011.  That’s because they’ve given me 5 days per chapter.  Very generous, as I’m usually able to crank out non-fiction chapters in a day or two… so I’ll likely get this book done on or before Christmas 2010… or I hope  to do so.  We’ll see.

Also, Que Publishing, which has contracted me to write those iPad articles, is now discussing book ideas with me.  Very cool.  We’re bouncing back and forth with some book topics… kinda nice to have another possible publisher as this would bring my list to 3 from the current 2 publishers I write for… we’ve got some interesting ideas hashed out that I’ll hopefully be able to write about soon.  Even if we can’t find a book right now, just knowing they’re open to my writing books for them is very cool.

Here’s today’s score card and Progress Bar (singular):

Novel #2 – Draft 1
Ch9 – 10 pages – 2507 words
Book – 86 pages – 22048 words

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

Story #2 – Our hero is not finding a lot of friends today…

I missed posting yesterday  – kinda crazy day and I only got a new chapter written (ch7) for Story #1.  Today I managed to get both some revision work done (Story #1) and a completely new chapter 8 written for Story #2.

Story #2 is, unfortunately for me, becoming quite a bit more interesting than Story #1… not sure why, but it may have to do with the fact that I started on this story a long time back and had much of the story already developed when I switched gears to write Story #1… I was worried that I’d lose momentum if I didn’t tackle Story #1 right away, and I’m still glad I wrote and finished Draft 1, but I have to admit that Story #2 is turning out to be much smoother/easier to write… and the action is easier (maybe that’s because it’s not science fiction, too…)

I’m still going to finish Draft 2 of Story #1 – come too far to put it on the backburner, but I’m finding the words coming easier and faster for Story #2 and each chapter just seems to push the 2000 word limit without any effort.  This is, of course, Draft 1, and I’ll have to go back and do revisions on it as well, but so far I’m very happy with the plot development and timing.  Story #2 involves a 15 year old boy who’s been transplanted into a small town and all the troubles that brings… he’s not finding many friends at school who share his primary hobby and in ch8 he meets some out of town kids who turn out to be game cheaters… and they know he knows!  Trouble brewing…

I also got word today that my non-fiction tech book is being scheduled for a start date of September 20.  We’re negotiating the advance to write it, but they’re telling me the book is a go… very very happy about that.  I still can’t write about the subject just yet, but will try to get permission once the contract is signed.

I also got a Sept 3 due date for the first (of 6) articles on using the iPad in lieu of a laptop.  It’s not a “silver bullet” argument in that an iPad can do everything (it cannot!) but it will be more of an examination of what it takes to try and push the iPad to its limits… article 1 is the intro and the remaining 5 articles will tackle business/home uses of the iPad and see how it stands up to using a laptop.

Today’s scorecard and Progress Bars – (keep in mind that Story #2 jumped to 27% complete because I didn’t get to post yesterday about the 2000+ words for Ch7!)


Novel #1 – Draft 2 Revisions
Ch14 – 11 pages – 2758 words
Book – 124 pages – 30975 words

Novel #2 – Draft 1
Ch8 – 11 pages – 3002 words
Book – 76 pages – 19541 words

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

The new kid takes his lumps…

Today I tackled a few things – I got ch5 written for the new story (#2) – 2600+ words and the hero just had his first real scuffle as the new kid… not a fight as in “fist fight” but a different kind of battle… can’t give it away just yet, but remember the book is sports related, so that might give you a hint.    This chapter was extremely fun to write, because some of the confrontation in it was fast and furious, and I’m hoping to have this kind of chapter pop up every four or five chapters…

I also got ch13 revised for Story #1… that one is rolling right along, and I’m approaching the halfway point in the book which is encouraging.  It’s probably just because of the newness of Story #2, but I’m having to struggle a bit to stay on target with Story #1… I still like Story #1, but it’s like a new toy for a kid… Story #2 just seems more fun… but I’m hoping that’s just in my head.

I got word today that my publisher is okay with the Table of Contents I submitted for the new non-fiction book and that we’re looking at a possible Sept 15 start date… not sure if that’s realistic yet, but I think it’ll work if we can get a contract in place.  That book will likely take me the rest of the year to write, so I’m unsure if I’ll have time (or energy) to get started on another LEGO book this year… maybe, though… my publisher still wants me to do it.

Things are definitely picking up speed…

Here’s today’s scorecard and Progress Bars – check out that big 20% done on story #2… oh, yeah!

Novel #1 – Draft 2 Revisions
Ch13 – 11 pages – 2770 words
Book – 113 pages – 28217 words


Novel #2 – Draft 1
Ch6 – 10 pages – 2577 words
Book – 55 pages – 14002 words

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

– Writin’ Machine!

Still finalizing the details for the new non-fiction book, so today I focused on my two fiction stories.  I got ch12 revised for Story #1… the story is much easier to edit now that the character is more developed and I know the plot better… hoping to have the remaining 18 chapters or so of the book revised and done by end of September so I can float out some copies to a few folks for feedback.

Story # 2 is cranking as well… I got ch5 done today… 2600+ words which is outstanding.  And I’m very happy with the chapter… the hero is with some of the town kids and finding out which are friends, which might be… and which ones obviously are not.  A few minor characters introduced as well as some foreshadowing of the major plot line that will develop in the 2/3 of the book.

The stories are so different… it’s odd to be writing one that Sci Fi and one that’s not… but they’re both fun.

Here’s today’s scorecard and Progress Bars:

Novel #1 – Draft 2 Revisions
Ch12 – 9 pages – 2329 words
Book – 102 pages – 25447 words

Novel #2 – Draft 1
Ch5 – 10 pages – 2653 words
Book – 45 pages – 11445 words

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

Story #1 vs Story #2 – Let’s Rumble

I managed to get Story #1’s ch11 revised today which pushed Draft 2 over the 30% completion mark.  It’s going a little slower than I expected, but I’m still plodding forward with revisions.  The story isn’t changing as much now that I’m into last 2/3 of the story – as I was writing Draft 1, I’d figured out much more of the details of the story so I’m finding that there’s not a lot of major changes to the story now, just updates/revisions to the dialogue and scene descriptions.  A few cuts here and there to stuff that doesn’t help the plot.

As for Story #2 – I finished writing Chapter 4 today – in the first 3 chapters, the hero (15 years old) has found himself uprooted and moved to a small town… his dad and the current situation the two of them find themselves in has been described and the town setup… chapter 4 starts him at his new school and all the misery that entails… new kid, no friends, etc… the story has elements of that “wants to be accepted” cliche but the backstory and the main plot will differentiate it from similar, tired books (I hope).  Hit the 2000+ word mark on Ch4 and feeling pretty good about the story.  Unlike Story #1, this new story is completely plotted out… every major story twist and turn.  I’m still doing some character development for folks that’ll show up a few chapters from now, but I’ve got the major characters well defined and I know everything that’s going to happen between start and finish… just need to actually WRITE it.

Here’s today’s scorecard and Progress Bars – (interestingly, ch4 ended up with the same wordcount as ch3 for Story #2)

Novel #1 – Draft 2 Revisions

Ch11 – 13 pages – 3112 words

Book – 93 pages – 23118 words

Novel #2 – Draft 1
Ch4 – 9 pages – 2060 words
Book – 35 pages – 8802 words

August 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting caught up – Novel 1 and 2

I was out of town all last week and most of the weekend, so not much writing got done… but that just made me more anxious to get back to work when I returned on Monday.  So, yesterday I got situated and cranked out a revision of Story #1 and ch9 was completed.

Today was an even more productive day – I revised ch10 for Novel #1 and I got ch3 written for Novel #2.  It’s a bit funny to try and bounce back and forth between fiction stories, but I think I’m adjusting.  Before I begin, I always go back and re-read the previous chapter that helps me get my character names back in place.  Still… I’ve found myself using my hero’s name from Novel #1 a few times in the Novel #2 draft text…

A few other good things have happened – a publisher I used to tech edit for has expressed interest in my iPad book, but wants to turn it into a series of articles for their website… we talked details yesterday and I like what they’re asking and what they’re offering.  I’ve been given until Friday to provide them a summary of the articles I’m willing to write  – the book was originally 16 chapters but I’m going to cut that down to 6 or 7 articles… 8 max.  They’ll give me 2 weeks for each article to be completed which is more than enough, but they also want to see article #1 before committing to more articles… not a problem.

My current publisher has also pushed forward on the non-LEGO book and is looking for a start date of maybe late August or early September.  I’ve got to look at my calendar as this book is going to be a bit involved and will require more than just writing (that’s all I can say right now -the topic is very hush hush and I’m not allowed to talk about it since it’s a hot topic… once the contract is in place, I think they’ll let me start talking and blogging about it.)

I also met with someone yesterday about creating some new LEGO content for a very specific audience.  More on that later if the project moves forward, but it sounds legit so I’m hoping to get moving on it in the next few weeks.  A bit tired of LEGO writing projects but they do pay the bills and they do pay somewhat well… so we’ll see.

So, things are looking good – I’ve got some personal projects (2 fiction stories) and some non-fiction writing projects that are building steam.  I’m hoping not everything will hit at once, but who knows…

Here’s today’s scorecard and Progress Bar – you’ll notice that I skipped Ch9 for Novel #1… I did that revision yesterday and didn’t get around to posting a blog item on it… so the Bar will jump a bit.  Very happy with the progress of both books.  Crossed the 25% mark for Draft 2 of Novel 1 – woo hoo.

Novel #1 – Draft 2 Revisions
Ch10 – 10 pages – 2488 words
Book – 80 pages – 20006 words

Novel #2 – Draft 1
Ch3 – 8 pages – 2060 words
Book – 26 pages – 6742 words

August 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Draft 2 – Novel #1 and Draft 1 – Novel #2 — something in the water

So, while I’m waiting on word from my editor on which of my 2 non-fiction book proposals to focus on, I’ve decided not to wait around.  I can’t put my finger on what’s changed, but all of a sudden I hate the thought of letting hours pass where I’m not writing.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t do much of it in my twenties or early thirties… but now I’ve actually got the motivation and discipline to put nose to grindstone and crank it out.

Whatever… I’ve now got 2 fiction stories I’m working on.  Novel #1 is in Draft 2 stage and coming along nicely.  I finished revising ch8 today and I’m liking the improvements to the story.  The hero has more of a background and the dialogue and scene descriptions are better written and helping to move the story forward… or at least I think so.

Novel #2 is new… fiction, but not science fiction.  The hero is a fifteen year old boy, moving from a big city to a small town… it’s a bit cliche – new town, new kid, no friends, etc – but it’s the backstory AND the main plot that differ from anything I’ve seen on the shelves and I’m hoping my twist on the standard “sports/jock” story can be pulled off.  I’ve completed the first two chapters (of 25 – I’ve plotted out this story in much more detail than Novel #1 was done and hoping that will help me stay on track and get off on a wild tangent) and it’s pushing 4000 words so far.  Estimated wordcount will be 70,000 for Draft 1… I want the skeleton/frame down first before I go back for Draft 2 and try to increase the pagecount and add in more backstory.

Of course, if I get a non-fiction book contract in place, I may have to change how I work on these two stories… Novel #2 may have to take a backburner position until Novel #1 is finished… or at least fewer chapters written per week.  Right now I’m trying to work on Novel #1 and #2 each day, but that’s subject to change based on my mood and my work load.

Ideally, I’d love to move away from non-fiction and do fiction, but that dream depends on what happens next.  I’ve received some kind words from a few who have seen early draft 1 and some good encouragement from someone who has seen Draft 2 early chapters… but I really have no idea.  Could be drivel just as easily as it could be good… I’m my own worst critic.

Here’s today’s scorecards and Progress Bars (YES – PLURALS!)

Novel #1 – Draft 2 Revisions
Ch8 – 11 pages – 2512 words
Book – 65 pages – 16421 words

Novel #2 – Draft 1
Ch2 – 8 pages – 2029 words
Book – 18 pages – 4682 words

August 2, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Draft 2 – Chapter 7 – Meeting the Big Bad Guy

Got to work early today on Ch7 – it was a short one, only 7 pages, but it’s a key chapter because it introduces the Big Bad Guy and provides a name… the hero will need this information shortly when he gets back in contact with the good guys… once he finds out who he’s dealing with, things will change a bit.

One of today’s goals is to also sit down and outline the chapters for my second young adult novel – totally different setting/characters.  I’m trying something new with this one – I’ll likely return to the Scene Cards I used for the current fiction book but before I do that, I want to have a good idea of the story structure… one suggestion was to sit down and write a single sentence for each chapter.  Each sentence will basically explain what happens in that chapter… a key plot point or maybe a character introduction.  I’ll give it a shot… I already know the basics of the story, but it’s obviously not planned out as far as Draft 1 for the Jinx fiction story I’ve just completed.

I’ve also got to get some work done today and tomorrow on a new non-fiction book proposal that I’m fairly certain will get approved soon.  I’ve been asked for very specific information on the structure of the book and the publisher has expressed interest in doing the book… but then again… they expressed interest in my iPad book.  So who knows?

If I can get one non-fiction book contracted soon, I’ll be very happy).  Ideally I’d like to do 5 non-fiction books a year (did 4 in 2008 and 5 in 2009), I’m up to 3 non-fiction books for the year so far, so I need to do 2 more and July is already gone.  It’ll be more likely that I’ll do 4 this year and have one roll over to 2011.  Oh, well.

Today’s scorecard and Progress Bar:


Jinx: Trial by Fire
Book 1 of The Prototype War

Draft 2

Chapter 7 Revision – 100%
Chapter Pages: 7
Chapter Wordcount: 1896

Book Pages: 54
Book Wordcount: 13909

July 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Draft 2 – Chapter 6 – Where am I?

Got Chapter 6 revised today – increased its page count from 6 to 8.  The dialogue and scene descriptions are much better now, and the hero is now in unfamiliar territory and trying to figure out where he is.  He’s got to try to get his location and get in touch with his support team… all while escaping from the bad guys who he’s going to surprise in Chapter 7.

My editor should be back from vacation on Monday and I’ve done nothing to get the book proposals in order… I’ll try and tackle that tomorrow.  Just not feeling it today.  I do need a book contract in place soon… just to have some money coming in and to keep from going crazy.  I like the fiction writing, but in the back of my head is the knowledge that it’s an unsold story and I have no guarantees it’ll ever sell… so it’s just “free” writing right now.  That said, since I don’t have a contract, I’m free to spend my days trying to get the fiction book in shape and ready for sharing with some friends for feedback.

Here’s today’s scorecard and Progress Bar:

Jinx: Trial by Fire
Book 1 of The Prototype War

Draft 2

Chapter 6 Revision – 100%
Chapter Pages: 8
Chapter Wordcount: 1944

Book Pages: 47
Book Wordcount: 12013

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

Draft 2 – Restructuring the Story

I got back to the story yesterday – after taking my friend’s suggestions and modifying Chapter 1 (and parts of Chapter 2) I realized the entire book needed a slight restructuring.  At first, I was hoping to get Draft 2 to move faster… get the hero into the main plot quicker.  But that’s almost impossible with the amount of setup that’s required.  Whereas I was hoping to shave 2 or 3 chapters worth of content, I’m finding that it’s really only about 1 chapter that will be shaved.  This means that instead of Chapter 7 (Draft 1) having the hero dropped into the fight, it’s now Chapter 6.  Not much of a change, but I really don’t have a choice.  To keep the chapters at the 8 page length (on average)  and to keep the chapter endings as mini-cliffhangers, I’m forced to keep the story structured almost identically for Draft 2 as it was in Draft 1…

Again, not a big deal… the story has changed some in Draft 2, but the chapter structures really haven’t.  Additional dialogue has been added in key areas, a few minor characters added, and one major character has been better defined and given more of a key role than in Draft 1.  Scene descriptions have been cut where it didn’t forward the story and other descriptions have been increased where I felt the Draft 1 text didn’t do it justice.

What does this mean for wordcount?  My Progress Bar below will decrease just a bit because of a key bit of text that was deleted in Chapters 4 and 5…  but the step back is necessary.  The scorecard and progress bar below are accurate as of today’s revision of Chapter 5.

I’m also developing my two non-fiction book proposals per a request from my publisher.  I’m not sure which book they’ll want me to tackle first – the LEGO book or the non-LEGO book?  Doesn’t matter to me, but I think the LEGO book is more likely.  I’ll probably find something more concrete next week when my editor returns from vacation.

And while I’m at it – I did some thinking for my second young adult fiction book this past weekend.  It’s a return to a storyline that I started early for this blog and then shelved.  It wasn’t as developed as the Draft 1 story I just completed, but it’s fast approaching that point.  I”ve got the opening, the end, and much of the middle plotted… all that’s left is to sit down and either plot the rest of it out with a spreadsheet or with the scene cards I used for my finished story.  I have quite a few friends/acquaintances who are published fiction writers and they’re all telling me not to stop but to start work on Draft 1 of story #2 while I’m doing revisions of Draft 2 on story #1.  Just what I need… more complications with balancing fiction and non-fiction projects… but I’d rather be writing than not… so I’m going to take their advice and start spending a little time this week (and maybe next) plotting out story #2 (which has nothing to do with story #1 – totally different characters other than the story is modern day).

Today’s scorecard and Progress Bar:

Jinx: Trial by Fire
Book 1 of The Prototype War

Draft 2

Chapter 5 Revision – 100%
Chapter Pages: 8
Chapter Wordcount: 2032

Book Pages: 39
Book Wordcount: 10069

July 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment