Contemporary romance author Christy McKee writes about life and love for today's women.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
J.M. Kelley's Daddy's Girl
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.
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). Readers interested in more information may visit her website at
Sitting down with J.M.
1.Author name or pen name. If writing under a pen
name, why did you choose this particular name?
I write as J.M. Kelley, but sadly I have no
compelling reason for it, other than I have enough trouble getting others to
spell my last name correctly—throw in an often misspelled first name, and it
would be a recipe for writing disaster. It does allow for a little separation
between my writing life and my day to day life, however.
2.When did you tell your family and friends that
you were a writer? How did telling them make you feel?
It’s kind of hard coming out of the writing
closet. People don’t always take you seriously. They think it’s a hobby, or a
cute pastime that you’ll grow tired of. Opening up about my writing aspirations
was very nerve-wracking, but in time it became obvious I was hell-bent on
getting published, and I have a pretty supportive group behind me.
3.What would your grandmother think if she met the
hero in your book?
I think either of my grandmothers would
crack up if they met David. They’d find him awkward and nerdy, but in an
endearing way. I think they’d also try to convince me he would be good husband
4.What is the most romantic thing a man/partner
has ever done for you?
Once upon a time, I was a twenty-something
year old driver with a lead foot. I racked up an impressive pile of moving
violations in a short frame of time, and was sent a stern letter from the state
that declared I would lose my license if I did not take and pass a driver’s
retraining class. Needless to say, I was outraged and bummed out by the fact
that the state police didn’t let me drive really fast without consequence. The
boyfriend at the time gave me a sympathy card with the lyrics to Sammy Hagar’s I Can’t Drive 55 written inside. It was a much-needed laugh, and I
thought it was awfully sweet that he was trying to be compassionate about my
situation, rather than just state the obvious—that I was a lousy driver, and
deserved my fate.
That probably doesn’t sound very romantic,
but those are the kind of things that get to me. They go further than any
bouquet of roses ever could.
were planning a seductive dinner in front of a crackling fire, what would you
serve?How would you serve it? What
would you wear?
Oh, dear. Any man that knows me would know
to keep me far away from fire. This is a scenario that could only end badly for
me. As much as I’d love to offer a sexy, sultry situation, this is about me.
Reality dictates that I would be wearing an Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt, boxer
shorts, and fuzzy socks as I served considerably burned lasagna. The important
point would be that I would do this with a man who would be perfectly okay with
this set-up, and allow me to awkwardly seduce him, while keeping my comfy,
fuzzy socks on. And he would love it.
6.Clothing is an important part of each scene. A
low cut tank top sparks more male appreciation than a conservative button down,
rolled up sleeve shirt. From a male perspective, compare the two opposites I
mentioned above or choose your own for comparison.
On the physical level, it’s like peeling
away the layers of an onion. For plenty of men, though, that conservative look
is just as compelling. It’s just a layer. At that stage, there’s so much to
wonder about. Is she as conservative as she dresses? When that barrier removed
is she softer, more sensual, underneath? Or is she all business, even when that
shirt is tossed aside, crumpled on the floor. The tank top is another
provocative layer to shed. A flash of skin, a hint of femininity, and endless
7.Besides being unfaithful, what quality in a man—no criminal acts—would
be a deal breaker? Why?
Oh, I could list a few, but I’m sure we all
share those deal breakers. A man who can’t be himself—that’s a major issue.
I’ve come across far too many men who have spent a disturbing amount of time
crafting an image of himself that isn’t quite honest. I’m not looking for
perfection or sleekness. Be yourself. Be a geek. Be awkward. It’s so much more
interesting than someone who behaves as if every move is scripted.
8.Do either your heroine or hero have a vice (drugs, chocolate, expensive jewelry,
cigarettes, etc.)?How important is it
to the story?
Well, there is mention of David Harris
being a bit of a neat-freak, though he may an underachiever at the art of
carrying vices. He is a tremendous fan of order and Janie McGee brings chaos to
his life. She becomes the living embodiment of dust-bunnies under the bed and
fingerprints all over the windows and mirrors.
Janie’s vice, in the past, has been an
addiction to bad boys. She’s used to be treated a certain way, and David is the
very opposite of all she is accustomed to. It’s a huge hurdle for her to clear,
the idea that a man might look at her as someone who deserves to be loved and
9.You’ve been dating Mr. PracticallyAlright for a
month. He’s been to your house several times. Finally, he asks you over to his
place to meet someone who is important to him. You are thinking it’s a child or
perhaps his visiting mother. Wrong. It’s a big Labrador retriever who puts his
paws on your shoulders and washes your carefully air brushed face from ear to
ear. The biggest dog you’ve ever been around was the size of a meatloaf. What
are the first words out of your mouth? If your date doesn’t offer antibacterial
face wipes and says—by the
way—Fido sleeps with him
every night,what’s your next move?
My first words will probably be
expletives I can’t share here. But after the initial shock wore off, I’d be
happy to heap attention on Fido. I am not a cat person, and have already
discovered that dating cat-loving men is not much of an option for me. Now,
when it comes to bed sharing, I could say I’d have a long talk with Mr. Not So
Bad about arrangements, but I’m pretty sure that I could find a compelling way to convince him who will
be getting dibs on the pillow in the future.
10.In your work, regardless of genre, do you
consider the environment and do you exhibit an awareness of practices that can
make a difference? It could be something
as simple as motion activated lights or lights on timers.
Environment is always an important factor,
and I try to represent it, but in a way that isn’t bashing the reader over the
head. In Daddy’s Girl, much of the story takes place in the McGee house, and
that accentuates the times when Janie is feeling a little trapped by life and
circumstance. The story takes place in winter, as well, which serves a few
purposes. With the storyline, I felt the idea of the coldness and the bleakness
tied in perfectly, creating that underlying tone of claustrophobia and sadness.
11.Do you think readers would embrace a hero—not a struggling artist, sculptor
or writer—who earns only a fraction
of what the heroine earns?Please
I think they would, but I do see a
bit of a male breadwinner stereotype that still exists in hero/heroine
relationships. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m a single woman, I take
care of myself, and I rely on me and me alone. But, I do understand having that
occasional fantasy of a knight in shining armor riding in on his white steed,
giving me a foot massage, promising to take care of me (and my electric bill)
forever, and traipsing off to the bathroom to kill the spiders that like to
live in my bathtub.
Women are so independent now, but
everyone wants to be loved, and everyone wants an occasional break from the
realities of independence. However, the issue of money isn’t necessarily part
of that anymore, at least not in my world. I don’t even really consider the
earnings factor when I’m writing. I’ve never based a relationship on what a man
does for a living. I’ve seen the blue collar and white collar ends of the
spectrum, but I’ve never looked at their paychecks. That carries into my
writing, I guess. I don’t think about it in terms of storytelling. I’m much
more concerned with the characters themselves.
12.Congratulations, your book has just been optioned
by movie producer. Of course you’ll be a consultant to the casting director.
Who would you chose to play your heroine?Hero? What song would you pick for your soundtrack? And since you’ve
convinced the powers to be that you must write the screenplay, what will you be
wearing to the Academy Awards to accept your Oscar for best screenplay? Include
Oh, this is such a hard question. I can
never really picture celebrities in the character roles, but I’ll do my best.
Right now, I have a big girl-crush on
Jennifer Lawrence. I think she’s so down to earth and deliciously awkward: that
would be a great fit for Janie.
David is a hard one for me to cast, but
I’ve always gone with Andrew Lincoln, because, well, Andrew Lincoln is just
Music? Oh, we’d have to go with some very
heart-string-tugging songs. Something like The Living Years by Mike and the
Mechanics or My Father’s Eyes by Eric Clapton.
If I am going to the Academy Awards, I will
wear something big and poofy, and possibly pink, but I refuse to wear jewelry.
It makes me twitchy. I will, no matter how fancy the dress, be wearing combat
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?
J.M. will be awarding a gift basket of some of the author's favorite 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. Increase your chances of winning by visiting all of the author's tour stops. Follow this link:
Before he even opened
the door, David knew something was off. Late night visitors, in his experience,
rarely brought good news. When the visitor turned out to be Janie, his heart
leapt into his throat. “Janie,” he said when he threw open the door. “What’s
wrong? Is Joe okay?”
“Yeah. He’s fine.”
Relief hit him so hard he took a step back and leaned against the doorjamb.
“You scared me.”
“I didn’t mean to.”
Janie rubbed her hands up and down her arms and looked over her shoulder. “It’s
cold out here. Mind if I come in?”
“Oh. Right.” David
gestured for Janie to enter. “Come inside.” He followed when she slid past him
and walked into the living room.
“It’s late.” As if
she needed to tell him. The atomic clock on the wall, a Christmas gift from his
mother, showed the time at almost two in the morning. Janie stood in the middle
of the room and focused her gaze on the bookcase in the corner. “I didn’t wake
you, did I?”
“I was reading. A
little too wired to sleep, I guess.” David moved up behind her and raised a
tentative hand to her shoulder. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”
The sound of his
voice jolted her out of her thoughts and she jerked her head toward him. Her
movements were stunted. Wooden. “Ever have one of those moments when you’re
convinced you may float away, and no matter what you do, you can’t keep
yourself grounded? And you need to hang on tight to something until the
Whatever was going
on, he thought, she was not in a good place. David gently spun Janie toward him
and gazed at her. “Tell me what you need from me.”
Janie closed her eyes
and lowered her forehead to David’s shoulder. “Ground me, David,” she whispered
and laid her hand on his chest.