Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 136 - Earthly Remains by Donna Leon, Torn by Mary Brock Jones, On the Chase by Katie Ruggle

Earthly Remains (Commissario Brunetti, #26)Earthly Remains by Donna Leon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Commissario Guido Brunetti is one of my favorite characters. I have learned to love Venice after seeing it through his eyes. This time Brunetti does something very foolish and as the book starts I found my self laughing as he has to follow through with what he started. It has some interesting consequences including a medical leave from work. There he meets new characters and Leon brings into focus some of the damage man has done to the area around Venice. There is a conclusion to the mystery in the story but no one is brought to justice. I found that to be an interesting take on what and how we treat this earth. I listened to this as an audio book and as always the reader develops just the right tone for the action in the story.

TornTorn by Mary Brock Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I had felt more connection between Fee and Caleb this would have been a 5 star instead of 4. I loved the world building (a planet changed for human life, the plot (anything for money even if it destroys the planet), and the characters (well drawn and suited for where they lived on the planet). The story moved at a brisk pace with a lot of action, tension and danger. In the middle of all of that was the attraction and love story between Fee and Caleb. That attraction started of slow and built but it felt forced instead of a natural part of the story. This is book one of a new series and book 2 is on my wish list. I do want to see how the big issue of keeping the planet safe plays out in future books. Torn just puts everyone in place but does not have a solution to that big problem.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

On the Chase (Rocky Mountain K9 Unit, #2)On the Chase by Katie Ruggle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I felt that I was missing some key elements in the story as I had not read book one. The story here has two different events driving the plot. Kaylee has to run for her life taking a new identity. Hugh and his K-9 partner, Lexi, are on leave after Hugh has been shot in the leg. The two events drive the story. Both Hugh and Gracie (Kaylee's new name) are in danger. Finding a solution to Gracies' problem and finding the man trying to kill Hugh kept the tension level very high. I liked the setting, Colorado Mountains, the plot, danger, danger, danger, and the characters. Hugh was really fun and Gracie (Kaylee) was his match. Lexi with her cold nose added some fun moments to the story line. A interesting series. I plan to go back and read book one to get the backstory I missed.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Just Another Viscount in Love by Vivienne Lorret - Review and Giveaway

Just Another Viscount in Love
by Vivienne Lorret

GENRE: Historical Romance



As the toast of the ton, Samuel Wortham, Viscount Ellery, should have no trouble finding a wife. Yet each lady he pursues ends up married to another. As a last hope, Sam plans a house party, intending to choose a bride from one of his guests. But when he encounters a raven-haired beauty by his estate’s pond, he’s captivated by her charm and desperate to see her again.

A quiet trip to the country is just what Gemma Desmond needs to take her mind off marriage. After all, as the daughter of a notorious criminal, her prospects seem quite grim. The last thing she expects is a chance meeting with a handsome lord and an invitation to his lavish house party. Ellery is everything she hoped for in a husband. But can she ever escape the stigma of her father’s misdeeds? When a pair of conniving debutantes frame her for theft, Gemma has her answer. Unwilling to let her scandalous reputation taint the kind, honorable man she adores, she flees. Yet Ellery isn’t about to give her up. He might be just another viscount in love, but he refuses to let this potential bride slip through his fingers…



Samuel Wortham has been the recipient of very bad luck in the love department.  Not because he is a bad person; he has just looked the wrong way.  That is what makes it so much fun when it finally happens.  Of course it is not without problems.  Gemma Desmond's father is a thief and she feels that she can only bring problems to Sam.  A great mix of romance and tension.  Samuel is such a great character.  He has been a side character in previous novels and fans kept asking for his HEA.  Gemma provides him with a perfect match.



“Well, I know my aunt is fond of you.”

Ellery angled toward her, his boots shifting to the outer edges of her slippers. The lapels of his coat were only a breath away from the rise and fall of her breasts. Lifting his hand to her cheek, his fingers glided along the slope of her jaw to her chin and tilted her face up to his. “And what of her niece?” The rapid beat of her heart made it difficult to release a breath. It was locked inside of her like so many recent hopes and dreams. Her lips tingled, plumping under his dark, searching scrutiny. And when the tip of her tongue darted out to wet them, his head dipped toward hers, close enough that she caught the clean, spicy scent of his shaving soap and felt the heat of his breath.

Gemma’s eyes drifted shut of their own volition. “I have it under good authority that she likes you. Very much, indeed.”

His other hand released hers, his fingertips skimming up the length of her bare arm, setting off a shower of tingles. Cupping her face, he drew closer, his nose nuzzling beside hers. His lips brushed one corner of her mouth and then the other. “Enough to permit me to kiss her?”

A soft laugh escaped her. “I believe you already are.”

And it was heaven, these slow, searching nibbles at her lips, the feel of his warm breath against her skin.

“Not yet,” he said with more sampling tastes of the corners of her mouth and a sly sweep along the center. Cradling her face in his hands, he went still, waiting for her answer.

Restraint emanated from him in the small vibrations through his fingertips and in each shuddered breath between her parted lips. He would take only what she was willing to give. He was not selfish. His honor and decency were not merely for show. These qualities were part of him and in his every action.

And she loved him all the more for it.

But this was not the time for hesitation. They’d been patient for long enough. Ages and ages. She wanted him to know that he didn’t need to hold back. Not with her.

Slanting her head, she whispered against his lips, “Then show me.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

USA Today bestselling author, VIVIENNE LORRET transforms copious amounts of tea into words. She is an Avon author of works including: The Wallflower Wedding Series, The Rakes of Fallow Hall Series, The Season’s Original Series, and the upcoming Emma Identity Series. For more information on her books, sign up for her newsletter at




Vivienne will be awarding a digital copy of Just Another Viscount to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

The Sullivans Boxed Set Books 1-3 - Book Blast and Giveaway

The Sullivans Boxed Set Books 1-3
by Bella Andre
A personal note from me:  I have read and loved all three of The Sullivans novels.  Getting all three for just .99 is a great deal.  


GENRE: Contemporary Romance



More than 6 million readers have already fallen in love with the Sullivans! Now get ready to meet your new favorite family in Bella Andre's New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romances with the first three books in the #1 hit series.

"Not since Nora Roberts has anyone been able to write a big family romance series with every book as good as the last! Bella Andre never disappoints!" Revolving Bookcase Reviews


Chloe Peterson is having a bad night. A really bad night. The large bruise on her cheek can attest to that. And when her car skids off the side of a wet country road straight into a ditch, she's convinced even the gorgeous guy who rescues her in the middle of the rain storm must be too good to be true. Or is he?

As a successful photographer who frequently travels around the world, Chase Sullivan has his pick of beautiful women, and whenever he's home in San Francisco, one of his seven siblings is usually up for causing a little fun trouble. Chase thinks his life is great just as it is--until the night he finds Chloe and her totaled car on the side of the road in Napa Valley. Not only has he never met anyone so lovely, both inside and out, but he quickly realizes she has much bigger problems than her damaged car. Soon, he is willing to move mountains to love--and protect--her, but will she let him?


For thirty-six years, Marcus Sullivan has been the responsible older brother, stepping in to take care of his seven siblings after their father died when they were children. But when the perfectly ordered future he's planned for himself turns out to be nothing but a lie, Marcus needs one reckless night to shake free from it all.

Nicola Harding is known throughout the world by only one name - Nico - for her catchy, sensual pop songs. Only, what no one knows about the twenty-five year old singer is that her sex-kitten image is totally false. After a terrible betrayal by a man who loved fame far more than he ever loved her, she vows not to let anyone else get close enough to find out who she really is...or hurt her again. Especially not the gorgeous stranger she meets at a nightclub, even though the hunger - and the sinful promises - in his dark eyes make her want to spill all her secrets.


Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire...and can't stop thinking about.

Megan Harris knows she owes the heroic firefighter everything for running into a burning building to save her and her seven-year-old daughter. Everything except her heart. Because after losing her navy pilot husband five years ago, she has vowed to never suffer through loving - and losing - a man with a dangerous job again.



Enjoy the following excerpt from THE LOOK OF LOVE...

Chase almost missed the flickering light off on the right side of the two-lane country road. In the past thirty minutes, he hadn’t passed a single car, because on a night like this, most sane Californians—who didn’t know the first thing about driving safely in inclement weather—stayed home.

Knowing better than to slam on the brakes—he wouldn’t be able to help whomever was stranded on the side of the road if he ended up stuck in the muddy ditch right next to them—Chase slowed down enough to see that there was definitely a vehicle stuck in the ditch.

He turned his brights on to see better in the pouring rain and realized there was a person walking along the edge of the road about a hundred yards up ahead. Obviously hearing his car approach, she turned to face him and he could see her long wet hair whipping around her shoulders in his headlights.

Wondering why she wasn’t just sitting in her car, dry and warm, calling Triple A and waiting for them to come save her, he pulled over to the edge of his lane and got out to try and help her. She was shivering as she watched him approach.

"Are you hurt?"

She covered her cheek with one hand, but shook her head. "No."

He had to move closer to hear her over the sound of the water hitting the pavement in what were rapidly becoming hailstones. Even though he’d turned his headlights off, as his eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness, he was able to get a better look at her face.

Something inside of Chase’s chest clenched tight.

Despite the long, dark hair plastered to her head and chest, regardless of the fact that looking like a drowned rat wasn’t too far off the descriptive mark, her beauty stunned him.

In an instant, his photographer’s eye cataloged her features. Her mouth was a little too big, her eyes a little too wide-set on her face. She wasn’t even close to model thin, but given the way her T-shirt and jeans stuck to her skin, he could see that she wore her lush curves well. In the dark he couldn’t judge the exact color of her hair, but it looked like silk, perfectly smooth and straight where it lay over her breasts.

It wasn’t until Chase heard her say, "My car is definitely hurt, though," that he realized he had completely lost the thread of what he’d come out here to do.

Knowing he’d been drinking her in like he was dying of thirst, he worked to recover his balance. He could already see he’d been right about her car. It didn’t take a mechanic like his brother, Zach, who owned an auto shop—more like forty, but Chase had stopped counting years ago—to see that her shitty hatchback was borderline totaled. Even if the front bumper wasn’t half smashed to pieces by the white farm fence she’d slid into, her bald tires weren’t going to get any traction on the mud. Not tonight, anyway.

If her car had been in a less precarious situation, he probably would have sent her to hang out  in her car while he took care of getting it unstuck. But one of her back tires was hanging precariously over the edge of the ditch.

He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Get in my car. We can wait there for a tow truck." He was vaguely aware of his words coming out like an order, but the hail was starting to sting, damn it. Both of them needed to get out of the rain before they froze.

But the woman didn’t move. Instead, she gave him a look that said he was a complete and utter nut-job.

"I’m not getting into your car."

Realizing just how frightening it must be for a lone woman to end up stuck and alone in the middle of a dark road, Chase took a step back from her. He had to speak loudly enough for her to hear him over the hail.

"I’m not going to attack you. I swear I won’t do anything to hurt you."

She all but flinched at the word attack and Chase’s radar started buzzing. He’d never been a magnet for troubled women, wasn’t the kind of guy who thrived on fixing wounded birds. But living with two sisters for so many years meant he could always tell when something was up.

And something was definitely up with this woman, beyond the fact that her car was half-stuck in a muddy ditch.

Wanting to make her feel safe, he held his hands up. "I swear on my father’s grave, I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay to get into my car." When she didn’t immediately say no again, he pressed his advantage with, "I just want to help you." And he did. More than it made sense to want to help a stranger. "Please," he said. "Let me help you."

She stared at him for a long moment, hail hammering between them, around them, onto them. Chase found himself holding his breath, waiting for her decision. It shouldn’t matter to him what she decided.

But, for some strange reason, it did.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Bella Andre is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of "The Sullivans", "The Maverick Billionaires", "The Morrisons", and the NYT bestselling "Four Weddings and a Fiasco" sweet romance series written as Lucy Kevin.
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Having sold more than 6 million books, Bella Andre's novels have been #1 bestsellers around the world and have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists 32 times. She has been the #1 Ranked Author at Amazon (on a top 10 list that included Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, James Patterson and Steven King), and Publishers Weekly named Oak Press (the publishing company she created to publish her own books) the Fastest-Growing Independent Publisher in the US. After signing a groundbreaking 7-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella's "The Sullivans" series is being released in paperback in the US, Canada, and Australia.

Known for "sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance" (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine "Red Hot Reads" twice and have been translated into ten languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post called her "One of the top writers in America" and she has been featured by Entertainment Weekly, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and TIME Magazine. A graduate of Stanford University, she has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco, including a standing-room-only keynote at Book Expo America in New York City.

If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.

The Sullivans Boxed Set Books 1-3 Buy Links: ON SALE FOR $0.99 DURING THE TOUR

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Bella will be awarding a signed copy of the The Sullivans Box Set and a tote bag, open internationally to 2 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Be sure to visit the other blogs on the tour:

August 21Read Your Writes Book Reviews
August 22K.T. Castle
August 23Sharing Links and Wisdom
August 24Books, Dreams,Life
August 25BooksChatter
August 28Mixed Book Bag
August 29Christine Young
August 30Punya Reviews...
August 31T's Stuff
September 1Jennifer Macaire, Tell me a Story
September 4Flirting with Romance
September 5The Reading Addict
September 6Hearts and Scribbles 
September 7Rachel Brimble Romance
September 8Southern Yankee Book Reviews - review only
September 11Nessa's Book Reviews
September 12Readeropolis
September 13Long and Short Reviews
September 14Viviana MacKade
September 15Straight From the Library

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews #135 - Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance, The Brass Giant by Brooke Johnson, An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Cutis Craddock

Betrayal of Trust (J.P. Beaumont, #20)Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very taught story filled with tension. A video clip found on a young man's phone quickly becomes something more. This is the first J.P. Beaumont mystery I have read. I love the Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds books but I never started the Beaumont series. Even though this is book 20 I was right at home listening to the story. I loved how one things quickly lead to even worst events. I did think I knew who was really to blame before it was revealed but it did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. This on also brings some closure to the Beaumont last name.

The Brass GiantThe Brass Giant by Brooke Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brooke Johnson lives where I do and I met her when she was doing a signing at our local Barnes and Nobel. That lead to a invitation to our Science Fiction book club. We had a great visit. It was such fun hearing about how she got the publishing contract (It was an open invitation with over 4000 submissions and she was one of 12 selected). It was also great having our question answered. Since this story features teens we wondered why it was not marketed as YA. Publishers choice was the answer. We did talk a lot about the story with the women liking the romance part more than the men. It was a great one on one. There is second book out with a third in progress so maybe we can get Brooke back again.

An Alchemy of Masques and MirrorsAn Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an extremely dense book. I found that I had to put it down and let everything settle before picking it up again. Craddock has created a intricate world with many layers. That world building is worked into the story line as backstory is revealed and characters are developed. For all of that Isabelle is in some ways a typical main characters. Her father does not like her, she has no magic and she loved being left alone to work on her math (something that is forbidden females). All that changes and those changes drive the story. Isabelle is the main character and she is backed up by her faithful musketeer, Jeane-Claude, who comes up with some very unique actions in support of Isabelle. While I had to put it down I also had trouble letting it stay down. It has a very good plot, some very interesting main and side characters, and unique magic. A very well written book.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 134 - Fire Bound by Christine Freehan, White Trash Zombie Unchained by Diana Rowland, Dead Ringer by B.J. Daniels

Fire Bound (Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart, #5)Fire Bound by Christine Feehan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another sister finds her HEA but not without encountering a lot of danger along the way. Lisa Piner and Casimir Prakenskii have a common goal and neither expect to survive. They plan to kill the family looking for the Prakenskii brothers. When they meet they find they have other goals as well. Look for some well planned ops, a lot of sex (at least 2 CDs worth) and a unexpected romance. This is par for the course for Freehan's book but it was fun to see what and how Lisa and Casimir planned and pulled everything off.

White Trash Zombie Unchained (White Trash Zombie, #6)White Trash Zombie Unchained by Diana Rowland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zombies are real and Angel Crawford knows because she is one. Angel is such a great characters. I have watched her change from someone who was a loser to someone who works at her job, got her GED and is now going to community college. This time she is trying to stop a epidemic of strange zombies who are the mindless killing kind. What is fun is watching Angel take care of the people around her as she offers new views into what is happening and how to find a cure. She also ends up with some very interesting pets. This series just keeps getting better and better. According to Rowland's web site this could be the last book in the series but I hope I get to visit with Angel in future books.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Dead Ringer (Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping, #2)Dead Ringer by B.J. Daniels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Abby Pierce and Ledger McGraw have a history. Abby is a battered wife and this time she was nearly killed because of something she overheard. Ledger comes to her rescue. Abby's secret and the return of one of the kidnapped McGraw twins are the two elements that drive the story. Along the way both arrive at their HEA. There is still a mystery to be solved and one McGraw brother left to get an HEA. A nice story with predictable action but fun to read.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 133 - You Say It First by Susan Mallery, Calling the Change by Michelle Diener, Breaking the Admiral by Ella Drake

You Say It First (Happily Inc, #1)You Say It First by Susan Mallery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great start, a wonderful ending and a lot of fun in-between - that is You Say It First, the first book in the Happily Inc. series by Susan Mallery. There are characters from her Fool's Gold series and on is the main male characters in this book. There is a lot of backstory in the first part of the book. It slowed the plot down but everything speeded up after that. I loved the setting, the town and the side characters. Sculptor Nick Mitchell and Pallas Saunders are great characters. Their interaction is spot. Both saying they do not want forever but we know best. Happily, Inc is a nice quirky town with a lot of room for new stories and new characters.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Calling The Change (Sky Raiders #2)Calling The Change by Michelle Diener
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I felt like most of Calling the Change was filler for the next book in the series but it still was entertaining. Garek has rescued Taya only to lose her again. This time to someone on their own planet. They still have one sky machine and enemies want both it and Taya. Most of the story follows Garek as he tries to catch up with the people who took Taya. The Sky Raiders are still around and Garek realizes that no one will be safe until they are defeated. That does not happen in this book but the ground is set for Garek and friends to try in book three. Once again I loved how Diener has placed story in an unusual situation. This is a low tech people against aliens who should have the advantage. I really like the contrast. It ramps up the tension and helps keep the story moving at a brisk pace.

Breaking the AdmiralBreaking the Admiral by Ella Drake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Admiral Lucinda Ryan wants a man in her bed and she makes a deal that brings her one. Tay Bronson is the man or should I say the alien Scoriah who agrees to the marriage to keep his family safe. He does not want to give Lucinda what she wants in bed but he bends some when he finds he has an instant daughter. Family is everything to the Scoriah and a daughter is a bonus he did not expect. Turns out there is danger to that daughter and that brings Lucinda and Tay closer together. A interesting plot with some very strong characters. This is a side story in the Space Grit Universe. It can stand alone but is better if you have read the books in the series. I started out not liking Lucinda but she did grow on me as she did on Tay.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Beautiful Mess by John Herrick - Virtual Tour and Giveaway

Beautiful Mess
by John Herrick

John is here today with a guest post located after the excerpt.  

GENRE:   Mainstream fiction (romantic comedy) -- multigenerational ensemble cast



A fallen star. Four Los Angeles misfits.
And the Marilyn Monroe you only thought you knew.

Del Corwyn is an aging relic. An actor who advanced from errand boy to Academy Award nominee, Del kept company with the elite of Hollywood’s golden era and shared a close friendship with Marilyn Monroe. Today, however, he faces bankruptcy.

Humiliated, Del is forced to downgrade his lifestyle, sell the home he's long cherished, and fade into a history of forgotten legends—unless he can revive his career. All he needs is one last chance. While searching through memorabilia from his beloved past, Del rediscovers a mysterious envelope, dated 1962, containing an original screenplay by Marilyn Monroe—and proof that she named him its legal guardian.

Del surges to the top of Hollywood’s A-list overnight. But the opportunity to reclaim his fame and fortune brings a choice: Is Del willing to sacrifice newfound love, self-respect and his most cherished friendship to achieve his greatest dream?

A story of warmth, humor and honesty, Beautiful Mess follows one man's journey toward love and relevance where he least expects it—and proves coming-of-age isn't just for the young.



Arnie’s cheeks turned rosy as he grinned at Del. A wide, toothy grin. The discoloration of enamel betrayed a long-entrenched penchant for red wine. He rolled the script and slapped it against his palm.

“Do you realize how many people would dry-hump a flagpole to get their hands on this?” exclaimed the agent. “We’re talking history here! Hollywood’s best-kept secret!”

Del felt a bittersweet quiver in his gut but suppressed it. His life was about to become interesting again.

Arnie paged through the screenplay further, scanning the dialogue. Several minutes ticked past. Del savored the silence which, in this case, was the sound of power.

“Have you read this, Del?”

“I have.”

“Pretty deep shit in here. Dark shit, the kind that scares the hell out of you.” Arnie skipped to the screenplay’s midpoint and read some more. “And talk about explicit. The profanity, the sexual content, everything.”

“She made herself vulnerable, no doubt.”

“Damn, Del. This woman must’ve been more fucked up than we thought.”

Del winced. “Arnie, cut it out.”

“Sorry, I forgot you two were pals.” The agent shook his head in an absentminded manner, his mouth hanging open as he read further. “No wonder she didn’t show this to anybody else. Can you imagine how people would have reacted to this in 1962? The film would’ve been X-rated—if ratings had existed back then—and gotten banned from theaters. People would’ve protested outside. This script would’ve ruined Marilyn Monroe’s career.”

“But today—”

“—it’ll resurrect it.”

Finding Inspiration in the Details

“Where do you get your book ideas?” Readers ask me that question often. For me, the art of crafting a story rests in noticing details other people take for granted. Then, by amplifying them, a writer can illustrate what makes human beings different—or, perhaps, the same.

Here is a list of five places I visit to find inspiration:

1. News Stories

Have you ever been in a traffic accident? If so, you probably thought something like, “If I had left one minute later or earlier, this mess never would have happened.” It would have altered your entire day, right? And think about the chain of events you could have avoided afterward: dealing with insurance companies on both sides. Getting a car repaired. Driving a borrowed or rented car while you waited. The agitation that remained until you could finally say the whole thing was over!

That’s how I find many story ideas. However, instead of using personal experiences, I’ll keep an eye on news stories. I’ll read what happened, then pick one detail and ask, “What would have happened if that detail were different? How would it have changed the entire chain of events?”

If a pilot flies one degree off course, you won’t notice it at takeoff. But circle the globe a few times, and you’ll end up in Antarctica instead of Anaheim!

2. History

People don’t change. People respond; they adapt their external behavior. We share the same emotions with people thousands of years ago. So I’ll look to history. For example, page through the Bible. You’ll find people dealt with fear, insecurity, joy, passion, rejection and everything else under the sun that we do today.

History repeats itself. I never took that adage to heart until I read an American history book, cover to cover, for pleasure, without the pressure of memorizing facts for a test. Almost a thousand pages covering about 400 years, all the way back to the Pilgrims. As a casual observer, I noticed two things:

1) One decision by presidents a century or two ago have ramifications—positive or negative—for us today. How did the federal government became a massive employer? Look to Andrew Jackson, the7th president, hiring a few friends. Give it 200 years and the growth is exponential.

2) Cycles occur. Circumstances may look a lot different today. But oftentimes, the root issues are the same and the results are comparable. They simply manifest differently. Look at today’s disruption in cities, the protests, and you can see the Counterculture movement of the late 1960s repeating itself. And the talk about Russians trying to interfere in our political culture today? In the 1960s, Russian sympathizers infiltrated protest movements to sow discord in American culture. They made floated among unsuspecting college students, befriended them, to incite riots and disrupt the rule of law. So you can ask yourself how an event from 50 years ago might unfold today. Or, for science fiction, how might that cycle occur 100 years into the future?

3. Personal Quirks

Who we are is a blend of our personality and background. None of us spends our life in a symbiotic relationship with another person every second of every day, from childhood into adulthood. Not even identical twins. And what happens in those hours and days apart—the experiences we undergo—blend together unlike anyone else’s experiences. That makes people unpredictable. We base lifestyle and spontaneous decisions on our own quirks.

So in fiction, what happens when a character stumbles across the path of their polar opposite? Or what happens when two similar people lock horns, because they share the same goal but disagree on how to get there? Apply that question to four characters, and the consequences multiply.

A conflict occurs. Does my character fight, which unleashes a chain of events? Or does he flee, which unleashes a different chain of events? That response and the events that follow can hold a reader in suspense—or prove comical!

4. Passion

What ticks you off? That provides a clue about where your passions reside. Unresolved passion can produce anger.

For me, it’s so critical that I invest my heart in what I write. Tapping into a passion facilitates that. It might involve a cultural, spiritual or political issue. Or the issue might hit closer to home, an interpersonal issue, as I notice how one person treats another. When I picture a hurting character and realize how plausible their scenario is in real life, it angers me. If I tell that character’s story, maybe it will soothe somebody’s personal pain.

5. Fear and Insecurity

Fears and insecurities are such rich sources of inspiration. How can I take something we all have, expose it for how common it is (which makes characters relatable), and yet position it in a compelling, unique way (which makes the story intriguing)? Can I use a scenario, character or object to symbolize it? Telling some of my characters’ stories—whether a lead or supporting character—has proven therapeutic for me.

What danger does a character fear most? That can inspire a suspense story along the lines of Michael Crichton or even George Orwell’s 1984. But what if a character fears growing intimate to somebody else? That can inspire a heart-wrenching tale that would make Nicholas Sparks proud—or John Herrick! ;-)

With my novel Beautiful Mess, I combined all five of these inspirational sources. I started with a historical figure, Marilyn Monroe, and the news of her death, then asked questions. I considered her fears and insecurities. I grew passionate about how others mistreated her. Finally, to craft the modern component of the novel, I created an ensemble of characters, each with their own personalities and quirks, set their paths on a collision course…and laughed every day as I watched the chain reaction.

Thanks for letting me stop by! I hope you’ll give Beautiful Mess a read. And feel free to get in touch with me at my website,, or on my socials!

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A self-described “broken Christian,” John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.
Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his novel-writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers.
The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as “a solid debut novel.” Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed. Publishers Weekly predicted “Herrick will make waves” with his novel Between These Walls.
Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 150,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.
His latest novel, Beautiful Mess, folds the legend of Marilyn Monroe into an ensemble romantic-comedy.
Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. “It was a challenge but also a growth process,” he acknowledges. “But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.”



John Herrick will be awarding a Kindle version of Beautiful Mess, plus free Kindle versions of entire John Herrick backlist to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour

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Be sure to visit the other blogs on the tour.