Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blooming Author J. M. Kelley!

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” ~ George Sheehan

J.M. Kelley's book Drew in Blue will be published by Lazy Day Publishing 12/1/10.

Tell us about your book. What is it about and where will it be available?
Drew in Blue is a contemporary romance about a thirty-six year old loner unexpectedly saddled with the task of raising a baby while trying to sort out his mess of a life. Problem is, he just keeps making things worse for himself. It’s a running theme in Drew Doyle’s life, considering he never does anything the easy way. The River’s View, Pennsylvania gossip mill is watching each misstep as Drew juggles a price-gouging babysitter, a major case of artist’s block, and a best friend with an opinion to share on every bungled choice he makes.

His love life isn’t faring much better. Despite a long history of relationships that never really get off the ground, Drew falls head over heels for someone new, hoping she might be the one to end his romantic bad luck streak. After a few abysmally bad false starts, things finally start looking up. That is, until he finds out (the hard way, naturally) that his new love interest isn’t the one for him after all. Turns out it’s actually lifelong pal and high school girlfriend, Kristina Moser.

Drew’s feelings for Kris intensify as he witnesses her growing bond with his son and he finally realizes where he belongs. Now all he has to do is convince Kris he’s right… and she’s just not buying it.

What were your inspirations for your book? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?
I think I'm most inspired by every day life. I like to find the story in the people around me. I see a person on the street, and sometimes I wonder about what's going on in their life. Why do they look so sad or so angry? What happened? I love trying to piece together a tale about people we can identify with in some way.

Drew in Blue
came from a desire to see a male character who is ultimately likable, but has his flaws. I'm fascinated with the male perspective, and wanted to show a man who isn't perfect, but underneath, he has a good heart. Drew does dumb things, he says the wrong thing at times, but his heart is in the right place.

Let's talk about your process. How do you approach a story, do you start with outlines or something else? Where did you work when writing your book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
The grand vision for a story hits me out of the blue, and I know when I get that excited feeling that I have a concept that I want to see through to the end.

With Drew in Blue, the concept that came to me was basically, ""What if a guy who is a bit of a social leper suddenly becomes a father? How would his life change?"" And the rest came to me as I wrote.

I don't outline, in general. Maybe if I'm trying to plot out a few chapters, I'll piece together a rough outline, but overall, no. I'm a believer in letting the story tell itself. Maybe I have one idea about where the plot should lead, but eventually, the characters take over and tell me what happens next.

I think that tells me its working, if the characters are so real to me that I feel like I'm taking instruction from them. Outlining, for me, feels like a barrier between me and the people I've created.

As far as writing, I write where I can. In bed, at the park, at the beach, in the car. I take a notepad with me always, and when story strikes, I'm prepared. Also, I'm a bit of a night owl. My best stuff comes to me somewhere around the 3 a.m. mark. I've learned to stop fighting it, and just indulge the muse.

Tell us about your "story of getting published."
My original manuscript was about 80,000 words, and had an information dump starting chapter I was convinced was perfect. Eventually, I accepted that I needed a new beginning, and after attending the Pennwriters conference and sitting down with an agent who gave me some great advice, I retooled the beginning and added about 10,000 words.

Then I started to query with the worst query in the history of man and probably made a few agents laugh harder than they'd laughed before. But after reading through Query Shark and doing some research, I managed to create a functional pitch that started getting results.

I began to get good feedback from agents on the pitch and the sample pages, but the general rejection usually had to do with what the agents were taking on at that time. So I had to do some soul-searching. Did I need to go for print and wait for possibly years to be published, or was e-publishing an option?

I decided it was a good time to test the e-publishing waters, and after a few queries, I finally got that long-awaited 'yes' from Lazy Day Publishing. And I'm so glad I did. I'm surrounded with fantastic authors who are so supportive and eager to take this journey, and I have a wonderful publisher who is in-tune with their authors. I'm over the moon about the experience and my debut last December 1st.

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
I will publicize wherever I can. I'm shopping around for interviews and book review blogs. I might be batting my eyelashes at the local newspaper soon. Social networking is key, so I've set up a Twitter and a Facebook. I blog on my website at, and hope to be able to find potential readers through that, and I'm always trying to dream up new ways to get the word out about Drew In Blue. I have my nose to the ground, looking for publicity opportunities!

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