Joel Kelly's Blog

Joel Kelly's updates about his latest writing, his process, and his life as a Halifax-based author and marketer.

Big "No Greater Love Than This" Giveaway!

Let's give sales a "No Greater Love Than This" a boost after a few weeks on the market, shall we? But I need your help! Please share this post with your friends.

The first 10 people to purchase "No Greater Love Than This", starting today, March 25th 2014, will win signed, original notes from the story's creation. My story circles, pages from my notebooks, etc. You'll also get exclusive updates on my new story as I write it and look for a publisher!

The first 10 people will get the notes, and anyone who sends me their receipt will get exclusive updates on the new story.

You're thinking, who would want that? I don't know, maybe nobody. But it's all I've got to offer you! If there's something else you'd like, just let me know.

All you have to do is purchase the story (links below) and send me a copy of your receipt at This offer is only available for new purchases as of today.

Please, share this with your friends!

Purchase the eBook:

I'm in print!

Well, sort of.

My fiancée, Leah, turned my ebook, "No Greater Love Than This," into a one-off hardcover book. She contacted my publisher to get the files, and a local printing company to have it made, and gave it to me as a surprise gift last night.

It's pretty wonderful to hold my short story in my hands. As much as digital is obviously the future of mainstream reading, we'll all still always enjoy holding a book in our hands.

I mean, MP3s didn't kill vinyl. If anything, the opposite. Like with vinyl, more people listening to music, however they want, is the key.

More people reading is good, however they want to do it. And as long as people love reading, there will still be physical books.

And that's nice.

Love you,

It's out! - Purchase "No Greater Love Than This"

The day is finally here.


Months of writing, editing, re-writing, and agonizing over whether I should even tell the story at all, are finally over.

"No Greater Love Than This", my first major creative non-fiction short story is finally done, and available for purchase.

Thank you all for your support and interest.

Thank you to all my incredible friends for their advice, their time, and most of all, their love.

Thank you to my brother for his unconditional love, and for looking out for me all these years.

Thank you to my friend Ben P., from the story, who has had my back for as long as we've known each other.

And thank you to my brilliant fiancée Leah for her unwavering kindness, wisdom, and help.

And, of course, thank you to Fierce Ink Press for the opportunity and for coaching me through it!

If you haven't done so yet, "No Greater Love Than This" can be purchased here:

My debt to William Gibson, and his hologram rose

My favorite short story is William Gibson’s Fragments of a Hologram Rose. It was his first major published short story.

Every sentence in it is laced with a precise despair. It is a sci-fi story, and, like all good sci-fi, it’s more about the present*, and us, than it is about the future, and them.

The structure of my story, "No Greater Love Than This," is unusual. One storyline goes from past to present, told in a typical first-person, "I did this, I did that," form. The other storyline goes from the present to the past, told in a second-person, “You do this, you do that,” form.

And the two storylines alternate back and forth, using vignettes. It’s a little jarring, but I felt it necessary to tell the story. I needed to break things up, to make it a little unreal, so I could tell a real and painful story with detachment.

The structure of Fragments was my inspiration for this style, though I ended up going in a fairly different direction. But I’m still indebted to William Gibson and his story for helping me tell my story.

Here’s an excerpt to get you interested in Fragments. Purchase the short story collection Burning Chrome (which includes the first instance of the word “cyberspace” ever) to read the rest.

*Yes, I'm citing my own article to back up my point.


That summer Parker had trouble sleeping.

There were power droughts; sudden failures of the delta-inducer brought painfully abrupt returns to consciousness.

To avoid these, he used patch cords, miniature alligator clips, and black tape to wire the inducer to a battery-operated ASP deck. Power loss in the inducer would trigger the deck's playback circuit. He bought an ASP cassette that began with the subject asleep on a quiet beach. It had been recorded by a young blonde yogi with 20-20 vision and an abnormally acute color sense.

The boy had been flown to Barbados for the sold purpose of taking a nap and his morning's exercise on a brilliant stretch of private beach. The microfiche laminate in the cassette's transparent case explained that the yogi could will himself through alpha to delta without an inducer.

Parker, who hadn't been able to sleep without an inducer for two years, wondered if this was possible.

He had been able to sit through the whole thing only once, though by now he knew every sensation of the first five subjective minutes. He thought the most interesting part of the sequence was a slight editing slip at the start of the elaborate breathing routine: a swift glance down the white beach that picked out the figure of a guard patrolling a chain link fence, a black machine pistol slung over his arm.

While Parker slept, power drained from the city's grids.

The transition from delta to delta-ASP was a dark implosion into other flesh. Familiarity cushioned the shock. He felt the cool sand under his shoulders. The cuffs of his tattered jeans flapped against his bare ankles in the morning breeze. Soon the boy would wake fully and begin his Ardha-Matsyendra-something; with other hands Parker groped in darkness for the ASP deck.

Three in the morning.

Making yourself a cup of coffee in the dark, using a flashlight when you pour the boiling water.

Morning's recorded dream, fading: through other eyes, dark plume of a Cuban freighter - fading with the horizon it navigates across the mind's gray screen.

Three in the morning.

Let yesterday arrange itself around you in flat schematic images. What you said - what she said - watching her pack - dialing the cab. However you shuffle them they form the same printed circuit: you, standing in the rain, screaming at the cabby.

The rain was sour and acid, nearly the color of piss. The cabby called you an asshole; you still had to pay twice the fare. She had three pieces of luggage. In his respirator and goggles, the man looked like an ant. He pedaled away in the rain. She didn't look back.

The last you saw of her was a giant ant, giving you the finger.


Buy my story here.

Buy "Burning Chrome" here.

Hearing it out loud

Last night I recorded the audio version of "No Greater Love Than This". 

Well, I recorded it twice, actually. I did it wrong the first time, and had to redo it all immediately after.

It's interesting hearing myself read it. I'd read it aloud before, of course, as I think that's vital to the writing process.

But hearing my own voice played back, and the way that I apparently think phrases should be emphasized, or not, was insightful.

I tried not to force anything, I tried to just let it happen, and let the emotion — or sometimes lack thereof — express itself.

I wish I'd recorded myself reading it earlier. I'm not sure I would have changed anything, but I would have had a clearer picture of the various tones and emotions throughout it.

Oh well, now I know for next time.

Listen to my radio interview on News 95.7

I was interviewed on March 6th on Halifax radio station News 95.7 about "No Greater Love Than This". Check out the audio below, where we discuss why I wrote the story, what I've gone through over the past few years, and why I'm supporting Because I Am A Girl.

Where to start?


When I started writing "No Greater Love Than This", I--

Wait. I'm getting ahead of myself.

How did I start? Well, I knew that my short story would be about my upbringing, about religion and about the loss of my family because of it.

But that first blank page and blinking cursor...

That's why I started with the Story Circles, but even that's a little further down the path. The very first step, and the most vital, was determining how the story would end. What the last line or lines would look and feel like, if not precisely read.

What was the point of it all? Most of my writing isn't like that. Most of my writing has its meaning determined afterward, after it's written and staring back at me and trying to say something. Most of it is all revisionist symbolism.

But this piece had to be for something, it had to teach something, if only to me.

It had to be about love.

My parents spoke of unconditional love; the love they had for me, like the love God had for them. They probably still believe they love me.

But my story had to be about what real love means to me. It had to teach me — I had to teach myself through it — what it means to experience anything like true love for another person. Anything like what Jesus meant when he said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

I hope that's what you get out of my story.

I hope that's what I got out of writing it.

Writing can make you look/feel like an insane person

To give myself a place from which to start "No Greater Love Than ThisI used Dan Harmon's "Story Circle" process.

It's an effective and super simple way of blocking out the basics of a narrative.

The problem is with a story like mine, which has more than a dozen individual sections. Each one tells its own minor story, and so you quickly start to feel and look quite insane:

Sticky chart paper thingies are super helpful too!

Sticky chart paper thingies are super helpful too!

In the end, I didn't end up using much of the structure I'd developed here, but it was still useful. It gave me a place to start, a place to identify moments of real significance versus ones that would just be easy or fun to write.

I recommend trying out the story circle concept if you ever get stuck on a piece, or just need a place to kick things off.

Love you,