(eBook Tour) Interview with J.M. Kelley, Author of DADDY’S GIRL

Title: Daddy’s Girl 
Author: J.M. Kelley 
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press 
Release Date: January 28th 2013
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 90,000 words / 258 pgs 
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Sometimes, returning home isn’t about confronting your past; it’s about discovering your future.

Janie McGee, the black sheep of her family, is free-spirited, uninhibited, and never one to stay in the same place for too long. When Janie learns her father, Joe, is gravely ill, she reluctantly returns home to rural Pennsylvania to care for him.

Joe’s neighbor, David Harris, sports a pocket protector, collects coins, and is addicted to Antiques Roadshow. Everything about him rubs Janie the wrong way, from his nerdy wardrobe to his enviable friendship with Joe. And to make matters worse, her father thinks they’re perfect for each other, proof positive of how little Joe knows his own daughter…or so Janie thinks.

A shared devotion to the elder McGee begins to close the gulf between Janie and David, but a burgeoning romance opens the door to new problems and unexpected consequences neither could foresee. Joe, however, remains steadfast in his resolve to show Janie that Daddy knows what’s best for his little girl. Can Janie finally open her heart to David while watching the first man she ever truly loved fade away?

Today we welcome J.M. Kelley, author of Daddy’s Girl, a word of women’s fiction with strong romance elements.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Central Pennsylvania, and lived there until 2010. It was then that I decided to pull up roots and move South to South Carolina. My family remains in Pennsylvania, so that will always be home, but I love living down here in the Upstate. Beaches and mountains are easy to access, and who can complain about mild winters and sunny, sunny summers?

What or who inspired you to write?  And how long have you been writing?

I’ve always been a creative person. I was the kid playing the clarinet in band, painting, drawing, reading. Writing just makes sense. I loved to write in school, but once I grew up and joined the real world, I let the passion languish. It was after my father’s death that I returned to writing again. And thank goodness for that.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I still struggle with that, because I am hyper-critical of myself and my writing. I feel like I’m still a writer-in-process, still learning, and still looking to improve myself. Sometimes, maybe when I get a glowing review, I’ll have a moment of ‘Wow!’ to revel in the fun of it all. Then I’m back to nail-biting and neurosis.

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?

Daddy’s Girl is a story about coming home, literally and emotionally. No matter how far you stray off-course, you always have a place to go to start over.

I love reading the warnings on the blurbs for many books. If you could write a warning label for yourself as a person or an author, what would it say?

Caution: Contents Under Pressure. No Open Flames.

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

I think David would beg for a vacation on a deserted island so he could make sure he still has a firm grasp on his senses.  With a girl like Janie McGee in his life, his blood pressure gets elevated rather easily.

What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?

I think Janie would find me quite weird, at first. But I would like to think she’d warm to me, eventually. Especially if I bought the first round at the local bar.

Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?

I often find myself siding with the hero as I write. I’m always fascinated by the male mind and love the challenge in crafting a complex man. In Daddy’s Girl, though, it truly felt like a family to me. I loved them all and enjoyed writing the whole lot of them. Each person is endearing to me for his/her own special reason.

Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?

I have both kinds of problems. Some days they throw so many plot angles at my head I could just scream. Other days, they sit there, refusing to cooperate with a word I say. Creating characters is like trying to raise toddlers, I think.

Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?

I always say there are aspects of people in my characters, but never are they truly based on any one person. That would be inviting grudges, wouldn’t it?

Do you have a specific writing style?

I can’t lay claim to any particular writing style. I think I am rather straight-forward in my words, though. Flowery description isn’t my cup of tea.

How did you come up with the title?

I fully admit there is no true art to this title. Janie is a Daddy’s Girl. Whether or not she realizes this, however…well, that’s just part of the story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I think an important message in Daddy’s Girl is to treasure life and love. Our time here is so fleeting. Stay open to love, and most importantly, forgiveness.

Do you have plans for a new book?   Is this book part of a series?

Daddy’s Girl is a stand-alone, but I do have a paranormal romance, Almost Magic, due out this June. I will also be releasing a fourth novel, She Let Herself Go, in early 2014.

How did you come up with the title and cover design?

The title is pretty self-explanatory, but holds a bit of irony. With such a title and themes, I wanted a cover that has a nostalgic feel…the idea of looking back at better, easier times in a person’s life.

Who designed the cover of your book?

Kim at Turquoise Morning Press is the artist, and I love her work.

Where do you see yourself in five (5) years?

It would be wonderful to be able to declare myself a full time writer by then. That is my ultimate goal.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? < /font>

The beach. I would love to live at ocean’s edge. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dwelling, so long as I could wander onto the beach at any moment. I feel so energized at the shore, and would be at total peace, having the waves to lull me to sleep at night.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?

Stephen King would be the ultimate run-in for me. I would freeze up, though, because I admire him so.

What books have most influenced your writing most and why?

Authors like Stephen King, Toni McGee Causey, Charlaine Harris, and Janet Evanovich are my writing influences, in terms of the voice in their stories. I love that conversational vibe in their works. It makes you feel you’re with an old friend.

Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?

I can’t say I prefer any over the other. It depends on the story. I think, in terms of convenience, I use my Kindle for romances, anthologies, and novellas. I do like to have paperback, still, but e-readers are so portable and wonderful.

Are you a self published (Indie) Author or big trad published?

To date, I have worked with small presses that use the digital first model.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

I like to experiment a little, but I think I will always have a romantic core to the stories I write. Love will always be at the heart of it all, no matter the genre I tackle.

How do you market/promote your books?

I tend to do guerrilla marketing. I depend on word of mouth, friends, family, and one on one interaction. I leave business cards on coffee shop tables. I tell men fishing at my lake that their wives need to buy my books. Of course, I am always looking to branch out, and this virtual book tour is a first for me. A very exciting endeavor!

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?

I don’t think you can always narrow it down to something specific. Ultimately, I believe a book has to have a special spark. Attraction to a story is not much different from attraction to another person. Something about them draws you in. It can’t always be labeled, but it makes them shine.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer’s block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?

I often struggle with the block, but I try to purge that by writing something fresh. And sometimes, you just need to walk away for a bit. Rejuvenate, and come to it with vigor.

What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?

One scene in particular was a fun conflict scene between Janie and David. It involved a snow shovel. I won’t go into detail, but it kind of cracked me up, imagining these two goofs going at each other over…snow.

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best component?

I think, early on, it was a shock to the system to realize my first novel, one I’d worked forever on, was not finished, even though I was sure it was ready to shop. But, the criticism was correct, and resulted in a much better story. I’m glad I received it. I try to remain open to all commentary on my story so I can learn and improve.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I am currently trying to learn to play electric guitar. I’m terrible and I’m not sure I’ll succeed, but it’s fun, and it relaxes me.

Have you ever read a book more than once?

Always. Most books, if they make it to my shelf, will definitely be re-read at least once.

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?

I actually like the High Fidelity movie more than the book, but that’s probably because, well…Cusack. Love him.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/ paperback/ hardcover)?

My zombie fetish has compelled me to buy World War Z. I am reading this in paperback, though I do own a Kindle. My reading is usually split 50/50 between physical books and e-books.

Are there any new Authors that have seized your interest and why?

Patti Callahan Henry and David Abrams. I was turned on to their books at my last South Carolina Writers Workshop. Patti was the keynote speaker, and a wonderful choice, and I am interested in delving into Southern fiction. David’s book Fobbit is a MASH-like story that I can’t wait to get into.

Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?

I would have loved to keep the story going. I love the characters, and miss them now. I hope they are happy.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

What is the best advice that you have ever been given when it comes to writing?

Do you write under a pen name?

I use my initials for a modicum of separation in my dueling writing/regular life.

What are your pet peeves?

People. I often have issues with people. I probably need to find myself a secluded cave somewhere.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs. I think cats and I would be constantly engaged in a battle of wits, and I’d probably be the loser most times.

White wine or red?

Red, red wine!

Coffee or tea?

Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi.

Favourite food?

Spaghetti and texas toast.

Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

Chocolate.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?

iPhone, a book, my giant keychain full of discount cards, and an e-cigarette that is helping me through the quit-smoking challenge. I’ve made it two months without a real one. Never thought I’d make it that long.

Laptop or desktop for writing?

I am a laptop girl. The portability factor is fantastic. One of the parks near me, with a glorious lake to sit by, has wifi, so you know where I am on my days off.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?l

I seem to be more productive late at night. This doesn’t bode well for my day job, however, and I really wish I could kick writing butt during bankers’ hours.

If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?

Tom Hanks, because he probably would be nice to hang around with, Joe Manganiello, because I need…companionship, and Harry Dean Stanton, because he is McGuyver, and he can save us. After I am finished with Joe, that is.

One of your favourite quotes –

Someday, I will have to frame this quote from Stephen King’s On Writing:

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names…Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page."</p>

List 3 of your all time favourite books?

The Stand, To Kill a Mockingbird, and 1984

List 3 of your all time favourite movies?

Grosse Point Blank, Twister, and The Perfect Storm

An actor you have a crush on –

Robert Downey Jr. is my ultimate crush. He gets more and more beautiful as he ages. And John Cusack is an oldie but a goodie in terms of me lusting after an actor.

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?

I have been trying to keep up with Once Upon a Time, and I’m in love with Walking Dead. I watch True Blood when I can, and I’m usually stuck on the Weather Channel or the Discovery Channel. I miss Storm Chasers terribly.

“Need help?”

Janie turned around and grinned in spite of herself when David appeared from the living room. Her eyes lingered on the red sleeveless cardigan he wore over a crisp white work shirt. “Nice sweater vest,” she said. She held a crumpled bag out to him.

“Thanks,” he said, too brightly to have read the sarcasm in her words, Janie figured. She rolled her eyes and followed him out into the kitchen.

“So, what are you doing here?” She shed her coat and hung it over a chair.

David started unpacking the bags. “Antiques Roadshow. Didn’t your father tell you?”

Janie snorted. “Well, yeah, but I thought he was joking. You guys really sit around and watch that show?”

David stepped aside to grant Janie access when she reached for the boxes of cereal. “It’s intriguing.”

“Oh, yes.” The sarcasm was back. Janie carried her armload to the pantry. “I saw it once. They had an intriguing analysis of a step stool. I’ve never been so moved in all my life.”

“You mock what you do not understand.”

Laughing, Janie walked back to the kitchen table. “So what was the big item of the night?”

David scowled. “A pair of eyeglasses.” He paused. “They had reason to believe they could have belonged to Benjamin Franklin.”

Janie made an O shape with her mouth and fanned her hand at her face. “Be still my heart. I think you should get permission from the doctor before you subject my father to such drama. What’s he doing, anyway?”

Unfazed, David tossed a pear at her. “He’s asleep in his chair.”

“Shocker.” She pulled a bowl from the cabinet and placed the pears inside. “Oh, by the way? I’m mocking what I do understand.”

“Yeah, well, you have your shirt on backwards.” David grinned and folded his arms over his chest as Janie pulled the neck of her shirt out and peered at the tags.

“Crap,” she whispered.

J.M. will be awarding a gift basket of some of the author’s favourite things, including a $25 gift card from Amazon and a signed copy of the Foreign Affairs anthology from Turquoise Morning Press to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (Remember to leave your email so you can be contacted if you win.)

Three years ago, native Pennsylvanian J.M. Kelley packed her bags and moved south. Now, the wannabe Carolina Girl can’t speak a single sentence without adding the word y’all at the end of it, and regards a blast of snow flurries as a doomsday-level event. When the day job allows, and when she can pull herself away from George Takei’s Facebook fanpage, she likes to go on writing jaunts to her favorite lake, or a local coffee shop with delicious shakes and questionable Wi-Fi connections.

J.M. Kelley is a proud recipient of a Carrie McCray Memorial Literary award, and is a member of The South Carolina Writers Workshop and Romance Writers of America (PAN).

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11 comments

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    • Andrew T. Kuligowski on June 12th, 2013 at 5:52 am

    I love the description of this book. It sounds like the author built a romance around a theme she wanted to explore, rather than writing a romance and attempting to insert a theme into it. As such, it would appeal to folks of differing interests. Good luck!!

    KuligowskiAndrew (at) gmail (daht) com

    1. Thanks, Andrew! That’s definitely something I strive for.

    • Mary Preston on June 12th, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Such a great interview thank you & I had to laugh at the caution.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

  1. Thank you for hosting

    • Rita Wray on June 12th, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I enjoyed the interview, thank you.

    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

    • Laurie on June 12th, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I learn more and more about you as I continue following this blog tour.

    • Catherine on June 12th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Congratulations on quitting smoking! That’s a great thing to do for your health.

    I’ve also spent time in central PA (DuBois) and am now a Carolina Girl (NC). I like North Carolina better. And, unfortunately, we have both mosquitoes AND spiders here at the coast. BIG mosquitoes and BIG spiders. My husband, who’s a landscaper, encounters at least a couple of poisonous spiders (and snakes) every year. He actually prefers those over stepping on a yellow jackets nest…which he also does at least once a year!
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    1. Catherine, well that’s no good. I just visited the Smokies, and in the dinky little cabin I rented for the night, I was faced with an ungodly spider I can’t even describe. I think it’s highly unfair that they live at the shore, as well.

  2. Thanks for following the tour, everyone. I appreciate that y’all keep coming along for the ride. Thanks to you, too, Aine, for hosting me today!

    • bn100 on June 12th, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Nice interview

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  3. Sorry for the late post. I’m playing catch-up here so I’m just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day! Hope you all had a good time!
    kareninnc at gmail dot com

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