Friday, June 21, 2013

Review, Guest Post & Giveaway ~*~ Daddy's Girl

We are uber excited to welcome J.M. Kelley to the blog today!
She has graced us with her presence and knowledge about how to make characters believable!

Making your characters believable—that is a battle most authors can sympathize with, isn’t it? I have quite a few techniques I rely on, in that eternal quest for realism. Some are easier than others. The simplest method I use is to pay close attention to the dialogue. The best way to sell a character is with his or her words. Speechifying is a trap it doesn’t take much to fall into. Cut the description, and let the characters tell it like it is. That…just doesn’t work. And believe me, I fall into that trap, myself. Thank goodness for second and third rounds of editing, because when I catch myself using the speechify approach, I want to cringe. Also, keep in mind that natural speech isn’t smooth. It doesn’t flow like a gentle river. We stutter, stammer, fumble and choke on words. It is very important to remember that a realistic character shouldn’t always have the perfect response every time. But, that’s just one aspect of keeping your characters real.

There are a few golden rules I try to adhere to when developing my characters, and I’d like to share a few of my favorite rules with you.

  1.  Real People Are Flawed.
It is tempting to create the Perfect Man or the Perfect Woman. Think about how much writing time you save by having your heroine drawn to a man who can do no wrong. But, that’s pretty boring. So, in my world, I work hard to keep my characters flawed, without them being broken or unredeemable. In my first novel, Drew in Blue, Drew was a bit of a self-absorbed schmuck, emotionally stunted, and not very sociable. His redemption comes in the form of a son—his first experience with unconditional love. With that new experience, Drew finds his place in the world, and grows into a wonderful father.  In Daddy’s Girl, Janie is stand-offish, can be rude, speaks without thinking, and is really good at alienating the people around her. Problem is, she’s been hurt a few times, so her flaws are really just a way to shield a delicate heart. David, however, might be just the guy, despite his own flaws, to break down her walls .

     2. Real People Are Dumb.

They say and do some pretty stupid things. Conflict doesn’t always have to be carefully plotted and placed in just the right place. Sometimes, depending on the story you are telling, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can set off fireworks. Granted, one must find a way to deliver this in a manner that keeps the reader hooked, but conflict can be subtle. In Daddy’s Girl, conflict doesn’t always need to be high drama. Life is stressful in the McGee house, what with Joe’s illness, and the unexpected sexual tension between Janie and David. And life on the fringe of McGee family dynamics can fray David’s nerves as well. Sometimes, all it can take is an ill-timed remark to start a war. And sometimes, in David and Janie’s world, all it takes is a shovelful of snow….

     3. Real People Have Weird Taste in Mates

I’m sure we can all look back at our own dating history and nod emphatically at this statement. We are drawn to people that don’t always make sense. Our friends don’t see what we see and ask what we’re thinking. Our fathers want to break out the shotgun. Our mothers pray we’ll come to our senses. In romance, though, the Opposites Attract rule is nearly an imperative. This is where we get the drama, the excitement, and that sense of reality. The good girl and the bad boy. The bad girl and the bookish boy. The rocker and the librarian. The cop and the jewel thief. We want to know what life is like on the other side of the fence. Is the grass greener? Is life more exciting over there? It’s a natural point of curiosity, and it’s a rock solid theme to use in a romance.

So, there you have it. Obviously, the rules I’ve shared don’t cover all the bases, but I believe remembering points like these are a good basis for tackling the problem of keeping your characters believable. The easiest thing, however, is to pay attention to the people around you. You have an enormous cast of characters milling about you every day of your life. Observe. Listen. Take notes. The world around you will always be the best teacher you could ever hope for.

Thank you again J.M. for joining us and sharing your knowledge!  

Blurb ~*~ 
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?

Excerpt ~*~
 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 sensation passes?” 

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.

4 Star Review ~*~

Before you venture on the journey to read Daddy's Girl, make sure you have a box of tissues nearby and are ready to laugh and cry, sometimes all at once. I will readily admit the subject matter may be touchy for some, but I would recommend Daddy's Girl to just about anyone at any time. 

Janie and David are a unique couple.  It is rare to read about the man being the bookworm, OCD, neat freak and the woman being more carefree and spontaneous.  They were really well matched.  Then you get the drama of the McGee family and dealing with Janie's dad, Joe, and his terminal illness.  As Janie tries to hold steady that this is not the right time for love, she can't turn David away completely.

Every character is Daddy's Girl is so realistic that you know someone just like them, heck maybe it's even you.  If you are a Daddy's Girl, like me, this story will really hit home because we never want the first man in our lives to go away.  There are so many emotions and relationships to heal and grow that this is a story that will tear you apart and lift your spirits.

A highly recommended read ~ especially when you need an excuse to cry!  

Author Info ~*~
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). Readers interested in more information may visit her website at

Links ~*~
Daddy’s Girl purchase links: 
Turquoise Morning Press: 
Barnes & Noble: 

Giveaway ~*~

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.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions.


  1. Reading through the rules I found myself nodding. We are all imperfect, so the traits that we find in real life we should find in the characters we read about.


  2. Thanks so much for hosting, and for the kind review. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and share your thoughts!

  3. I love the imperfect people who find they are perfect for each other. Great insight into your thought process

  4. There is always someone out there for someone..only catch is if you find them... Thank you for the terrific giveaway opportunity.

  5. Thanks for the giveaway! Loved the excerpt!

  6. Love the Golden Rules, so true.


  7. This book has such an interesting storyline and I would love to read it.
    I have yet to read a book by this author, thanks for the chance to win.

    cenya2 at Hotmail dot com

  8. Well, it’s Friday. Had fun following you around this week and looking forward to more good stuff next week. Have a great weekend!
    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  9. Sounds like a great read. Adding it to my read list.

  10. Those are actually some really great thoughts. Particularly the real people are dumb. They sure as heck are :P Thanks for sharing the guest post!

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

  11. Those make for good characters to read about

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  12. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  13. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Have a great weekend, and see you next week on the tour!