Friday, August 18, 2017

"Beautiful Mess" by John Herrick

Beautiful Mess
by John Herrick

Beautiful Mess by John Herrick

Beautiful Mess by John Herrick is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well. Don't miss out on getting your copy of Beautiful Mess for only $1.99 (save $6.00) to 26 August.

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.

Book Video

“I have an intriguing prospect for a new film,” Del replied as he took a seat. He tapped the manila envelope tucked under his arm, which contained Marilyn’s script.
He could’ve sworn he caught Arnie in the onset of an eye roll brought to a sudden halt.
“What kind of project?”
“A pop-culture type of thing. You could say it has a retro feel to it.”
Arnie sighed. “Del, I realize you like to relive the past—”
“This is a winner, Arnie. I guarantee it.”
“And what does this winning project involve?”
“Marilyn Monroe. It’s a screenplay.”
“With all due respect, isn’t that a bit clich├ęd? This would need to be an angle no one else has covered. Many people have done films about Marilyn Monroe, not to mention books and memorabilia and everything else under the sun.”
“You don’t understand. This isn’t about Marilyn Monroe.” Del felt a surge of adrenaline and couldn’t contain himself. He leaned forward and, with great pomp, planted the thick package on Arnie’s desk. It landed with a thump. “It’s by Marilyn Monroe.”
Arnie sat open-mouthed as he tried to follow along. His eyes widened in perplexity. “By Marilyn Monroe,” he repeated.
“That’s right.”
“Del, what the hell are you talking about?”
With a lighthearted laugh, Del eased back into the chair. “Last night, I rummaged through some boxes I’d stored away long ago. Hadn’t looked through them in years. Relics from my heyday. Things I’d forgotten I’d saved. And at the bottom of one of those boxes, I found this.”
He patted the envelope, which crinkled at his touch.
“It’s a script, given to me in 1962.” Del caught Arnie’s eye to make sure the man paid full attention. “Written by Marilyn Monroe.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"A creative and fresh romp through one of pop culture's most notorious tales. John Herrick's characters become your best friends. His world is keen, compelling and excessively alive." ~ Jeffrey James Keyes, New York Times bestselling author and James Patterson co-writer
"Beautiful Mess is an engaging work of fiction, a compelling and delicious 'what if' about one of the most celebrated and tragic figure in Hollywood history." ~ Foreword Reviews
"It's a unique story, and heartwarming in the reality of friendship. A Beautiful Mess hits you with a moral question, 'What would you do if...?' and makes you stop to think what is really important to living your own life. Highly recommended!" ~ Glenda
"If you enjoy reading about Hollywood, this is the book for you. Very good character development that will keep you reading well into the night. Very good book and I immensely enjoyed it. Read this book, you will not regret it." ~ vnunez-msluv2read
"There is nothing better than reading a book of fiction that can take you places you have never been, yet you feel like you are right there with the characters. Herrick does this masterfully." ~ Laura

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
As an eighteen-year-old, Del Corwyn had the pleasure of meeting and working with Marilyn Monroe. Now, sixty years later, Del is a seventy-eight-year-old bachelor looking for a comeback role that will earn him the Oscar he missed out on forty years earlier. Circumstances conspire to bring him together with three other "misfits": Nora Jumelle, an up-and-coming actress; Felicia, a female minister; and Tristan, who masquerades online as a wellness coach. Their tales intertwine around a script Marilyn Monroe wrote and entrusted to Del in 1962. Del must decide whether to make the script public; it's just what he needs to resurrect his career, but why does the thought of it make him feel so guilty?
This is the story of unlikely friendships and romances. The book is cleverly divided into three parts, which are named after some of Marilyn's movies and hint at what is to come. The short chapters move the pace along and encourage you to keep reading just one more chapter. Told from the points-of-view of Del, Nora, and Tristan, it feels like Felicia misses out here. The author tells us how old everyone is when they are introduced, giving a sense of how important the concept of age is in Hollywood. He also draws clever parallels between the lives of Nora Jumelle and Marilyn Monroe - their names, childhood experiences, rise to stardom, and mental states. Peppered with cameos from real Hollywood actors, this reads more like dramatized nonfiction than a novel. I felt like I was saying goodbye to old friends when I turned the last page.
Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, mental illness.
Also included at the end of the book: Reading Group Guide, an interview with the author, and insight into the author's writing process.

Guest Post by the Author (originally published on the author's website)
My Inspiration Behind Beautiful Mess
In 2010, I read a biography about Marilyn Monroe for pleasure. I had seen some of her films and loved them, but knew little about her. When I read that she had spent time - against her will - in a mental care facility, I was stunned. Imagine being fully functional and of sound mind, but losing your freedom through no fault of your own. I considered how frightened she must have felt, wondering if she would ever escape, pleading for someone to believe her. And all because she was misunderstood. Then I considered how such an experience might scar its victim. Would it change her perception of life? Would she grow paranoid of others, especially after those she trusted had betrayed her? As a creative individual, what might she find as a therapeutic activity to regain her confidence?
After all these years, I still couldn’t shake my horror behind her predicament. I remembered she was once married to author Arthur Miller, who, I was surprised to learn, wrote and co-wrote some of her films. I considered their familiarity with each other as spouses. Did she observe Miller as he wrote? Did she read his drafts or offer opinions? Did she learn from him as a creative force? In that light, the idea of a screenplay penned by Marilyn Monroe seemed plausible. The compelling nature of all those facts and questions led to the backstory behind Beautiful Mess.
Then came Del Corwyn, the main character. For American actors and actresses, it can become a stepping stone to better roles. For foreign actors and actresses, it can open the door to American film, which is considered the best and most successful in the world. But through the years, I’ve wondered about actors and actresses who receive Academy Award nominations - perhaps even win the statue - who immediately disappear from the box office. Think about it: Mercedes Ruehl, Juliette Binoche, and Jean Dujardin were all lauded after their wins. But when was the last time we heard from them? It was in this vein that Del Corwyn was born.

About the Author
John Herrick
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 (FREE) introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free ebook 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."

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle version of Beautiful Mess plus Kindle versions of entire John Herrick backlist.

Be sure to check out the author's website for a Reading Group Guide, Virtual Soundtrack, Trivia Nuggets, and Excerpts. Plus, sign up for the author's newsletter to receive a FREE copy of The Prince Meets the Showgirl, a prelude to Beautiful Mess.

The Prince Meets the Showgirl by John Herrick


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Seven Days with You" by Hugo Driscoll

Seven Days with You
by Hugo Driscoll

Seven Days with You by Hugo Driscoll

Seven Days with You by Hugo Driscoll is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Sean Johnson’s life as a small-town farmhand has been nothing but predictable, but when he meets Sophia Hillingdon at the local animal sanctuary, she gets him out of an eighteen-year rut, away from the mundane existence on the farm, and a grieving, drunken father.
Sophia is the first person who understands him and makes him believe that he might get out of their small town, who tells him, he has the potential to be whoever he wants to be and do whatever he wants to do.
But as their relationship unfolds, it is the most devastating of news that will change both of them forever.

I turned around and rushed over to a girl who couldn’t have been any older than myself. “Stop,” I shouted, “she’ll hurt you.” But then it dawned on me who it was. She was Mr. Hillingdon’s daughter. I hadn’t seen her in years, and I wasn’t sure if she lived in Boxford anymore.
“What was that for?” she asked calmly. “I was only trying to stroke her.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that. It's…”
“It’s what?” she said. “A problem that you’ve never spoken to a girl before?”
“Hey! What was that for?”
“For being so rude!”
“I was only trying to… I don’t know, help you from getting a huge beating from her. She’s dangerous. It took me a while to calm her down.”
“She’s called Violet.”
“No, she isn’t.”
“She is now,” she said.
“You’ve never even stroked the-“
“You mean I’ve never done what I’m doing now?” She patted the horse's head between its bright coloured eyes. “I think someone owes me an apology.”
My chest tightened. “I don’t understand... that doesn’t... I didn’t even see you; it doesn’t-“
“Doesn’t what… make sense?”
“You have a tendency to finish my sentences, don’t you?”
“Well, someone has to.”
It was the first time I’d spoken to her, and though she ripped me to pieces, I couldn’t help but want her to continue. It sounded harsh, but she wasn’t being mean; if anything the way she spoke only endeared me to her more. She was standing up for herself, and God was she capable. So, I smiled before moving closer to her, realising for the first time that the girl that stood in front of me was a girl I couldn’t take my eyes off.
“Even if you are making fun of me, I want to apologise; I didn’t realise how loud I was shouting, I was only doing it to protect-”
“It’s fine, just promise me you won’t kick yourself at night for making such a bad impression?”
“I’ll try my hardest not to,” I said, with a pained laugh. “I’m Sean by the way. Sean Johnson.”
She replied with an unashamed laughter. “I know who you are, Sean. Farmers of a shy disposition towards the opposite sex are quite identifiable.”
“I know who you are too. I mean I remember you volunteering here as a kid and all. I just haven’t seen you in a while. I was only trying to be polite.”
“Well, in that case, it’s lovely to meet you.”
I stood there for some time after, long enough to make the scene awkward. I couldn’t help it for I was unable to talk, only admire and appreciate her.
“You don’t say much, do you?”
“Only when I have to,” I replied. “I suppose that’s what makes me love animals so much.”
“I suppose that makes two of us.”
I smiled, then, trying my hardest to usher the appropriate words, I said, “How about I walk you home? You know, for making up for being so rude earlier? How about it?”
She crossed her arms, leant back slightly then winked. “Maybe you can speak to the opposite sex after all.”
“So is that a yes?”
“Is what a yes?”
“Do you want me to walk you home?”
“If you mean do you want me to say yes to you wanting to walk me home, then yes, I can’t see why it would hurt.”
Sophia Hillingdon was a catch, and I was somehow lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time. Even Mr. Rogers could tell by the ever-growing dimples on my face how I felt, and as he hurried us out of the sanctuary, he returned my wave with a cheeky wink. She was beautiful, even in a mucky, smelly old place such as the sanctuary, and though my previous experience with girls wasn’t great, I knew at that moment that a girl I hadn’t seen in years was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. But then I suppose many men would say the same, what with her sparkling eyes and strawberry blond hair. She was practically lit up, almost like a Christmas tree. And then there was her defiant chin and the steep incline of her cheekbones which made for such an intoxicating formula that I soon found looking at her face strangely difficult. Even her navy coloured jumper and rubber green boots tucked into her mud strewed jeans made her stand out. An ordinary and practical outfit one would presume. But when worn by Sophia, ordinary colours became extraordinary colours. What was a girl like that still doing in this sleepy town? Paris seemed more suitable- a melee of artists, writers, and uncontainable beauty. Boxford seemed entirely unsuitable.
Sophia lived on the other side of Boxford, and as we walked through Hill Farm and its orchard, we soon found ourselves walking by the River Box. The river complemented the sunset as it hung from the lambent sky. For some time, there was only the sound of the water making its way downstream, occasionally making moderate splashing noises against the odd rock. And though we were silent, it began feeling less awkward, and it wasn’t long before I found myself asking Sophia a million and one questions.
“What makes you care for animals so much?”
“I suppose I like that they see you for what you are, and not who you are if that makes any sense? And seeing those injured creatures, who bleed as we do and who breathe the same air as us… well, they should be taken care of, I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t care.”
Sophia spoke gently, and with compassion and understanding- something I’d never come across before. “So you believe animals have an ability to see us as humans and that, um-“
“Yes, you got it right the first time.” Her sweet laughter sent tingles through my body.
“That would explain a lot.”
“What do you mean?”
“The fact that animals don’t judge you, and where you’re from and who you are, I suppose I relate to that, just in a different way.”
“You’re saying I’m filthy rich, aren’t you?”
“I never said filthy.”
Again, she laughed. “Any other interests?”
“Music… jazz actually, I get it from my old man, been playing Sinatra ever since I was a kid.”
“You reckon you can sing me a song of his?” 
“Maybe one day.”
“One day? Who says there’s going to be another day?”
I looked at her puzzled, unsure if she was playing a cruel joke on me.
“I’m kidding.”
I sighed in relief. “You’re a terrible actress anyway.” She was pretty good actually. “And you? Besides horses and teasing farm boys.”
“Books. A good book and an adventure. I want to be someone who does everything, reads every book and travels to far out places in corners of the world where they haven’t even electricity or running water. We’re so small in comparison to.” She paused then pointed ahead. “To what’s out there, outside of this town, this country.” She looked my way, pausing for a moment before she placed her hand on my shoulder. “You seem lost already from my waffling.”
“No. I’m the same. I’ve always wanted to see more than this little town of ours. I’ve just never heard someone talk like that before. It feels like I’m on an adventure myself, you know?”
She giggled softly. “That’s awfully kind of you to refer to me as an adventure. I suppose this town isn’t half as boring as I thought.”
“It isn’t tonight.”
She glanced my way and flushed. “Anyway,” she started, “I want to know your story, who you are, where you come from, enlighten me.”
Now it was my turn to laugh at her choice of words. “I wouldn’t say I’m an enlightening person.”
“Well, that was bloody fascinating if I do say so myself.”
“What was?”
My confusion made her smile; I’d never seen a smile stretch as far as Sophia’s had.
“Never mind,” she continued, releasing a loud snicker. “Any brothers or sisters?”
“None, just been the old man and me since I was five.” She looked at me, somewhat startled. “She died when I was five,” I began to explain, “before my father came back from the war. But she always loved the sanctuary; it’s where I get my love for animals from. Sorry, I suppose it’s quite a thing for me to tell you.”
“No, not at all, I asked about your life, and now you’re telling me. She sounded like a lovely person; I can’t imagine how painful it must have been. And I’m sorry if I’m bringing back an unsavoury memory. I should have remembered what happened, what with the whole town talking about it the way they did.”
“It’s alright,” I said. “It happened a long time ago. And yes, it was hard, of course, it was. Especially at the age when your mother’s the most important person in the world when you need her most- it hits you hard. I remember feeling lost after she died, as though I was lost in town, but this time, I knew she was never coming back…” I stopped briefly. “But as weird as it sounds, part of me feels sorrier for my father, he’s just… I don’t know it’s hard to explain, I don’t remember him too well before mother died, but he seemed happy and full of energy, but ever since he returned from the war, it’s as if he became a different person. I almost feel that he finds every day and the responsibility of looking after me overwhelming. Not that I’m a kid anymore, but he certainly hasn’t gotten any better. I do love him, though, I do. He’s my father after all. He’s a complicated man, but he has a good heart.”
“That’s entirely understandable, but it can’t make it any easier on you,” she replied. “Mind you; I suppose the loss of your wife while fighting in a foreign land would get the better of a lot of people.”
I nodded in partial agreement though it wasn’t long before I began feeling lethargic talking about my father. I would be back with him soon, and part of me wanted to forget about him and simply talk about Sophia.
“But more about you,” I said, “what’s your family like?”
“Ah,” she spouted as if the word ‘family’ was all she needed to delve into a verbose rant. “Like you I’m an only child, but sometimes I feel my father compensates for that by glaring at me every waking hour of the day. My mother, on the other hand, is like you, more reserved, gentle, but around me, she’s different which only reinforces how intimidating he is to be around, let alone live with. Don’t get me wrong- I love my daddy. Honestly, I do! He just has all these expectations of me, building me up to be a lawyer, going to Oxford. It’s just… you know? It feels overwhelming at times.”
I don’t was what I wanted to say. I wasn’t going to Oxford; neither was I training to be a lawyer. The only thing I knew was that I had to be up six days a week running a farm. She was from an entirely different background to me, and though I felt slightly in awe of her accomplishments, it also made me a little envious.
“I understand, having a tricky father that is, but no one’s family is perfect, right?”
She nodded, but in the process caught my eyes beaming her way. It was slightly awkward, but for the first time, something happened. There was a look in her eyes, a look that made me realise we were feeling something new. It felt good.
“I’ve seen your father in the local paper a fair bit,” I admitted. “He seems to have done okay for himself.”
“You could say that,” she said. “But it’s come at a cost to others. I mean, before he finally decided to settle back in Boxford, my childhood was just a portrait of new faces. I don’t even have any friends in Boxford as I always moved around the country with his law jobs being the way they were. But what he didn’t realise is that I hated him because of it. And even now I don’t think carting around wheelbarrows is what he had in mind for my summer, not that he…it just isn’t what he’s used to. Even my mother-” she broke off, a sudden shout of laughter escaping her lips. “Sorry, I just, the thought of my mother-” Another peal of laughter overtook her, “pushing a wheelbarrow in the muck-” Again, she stopped, gasping for breath, tears of mirth forming in the corner of her eyes. 
It was infectious, her unashamed laughter. It wasn’t long before I found my face contorted into an idiot’s grin, my stomach pitching at the sight of her.
“They’re not exactly like you are they?”
“Not at all!” she exclaimed. “What about you, what are your plans?”
“I don’t have one. Not here anyway.” 
“Yes, it’s not exactly a hotbed of opportunity here,” replied Sophia. “Where would you like to go? London perhaps?”
“I’ve thought about it, but I don’t see how I could leave my father to run the farm all by himself. But then again, I feel trapped in this town, and sometimes, I don’t know… I just want to run away and never look back.”
“You seem like an intelligent young man, Sean. I’m sure, in fact, I’m certain you can be anything you want to be in life, just don’t be afraid to jump.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
“I never said it was easy,” she replied. “I’m just trying to tell you that this town doesn’t have to be your life forever. I know my background is different to yours. I’m not hiding that. All I know is that it could be an easy option for you to stay here, a safe choice. But sometimes the hardest decisions are the ones that end up bringing us the greatest joy.”
Sophia continued for some time after about her past, her time spent in boarding schools across the country, staying with her parents in their London home. Though there was one question, I desperately wanted to ask.
“How long do you have till you leave for Oxford?”
“Not until September, they’re quite short semesters though- just eight weeks, so it’s more like a grown-up version of boarding school. But for once I’m happy to have a bit of time here. Just the thought of Oxford is quite overwhelming.”
I had no way of truly understanding her, but I tried my best. “I can imagine it will be tough, but you seem like the type that excels at most things. You have a great future ahead of-“
“Sorry, Sean, this is me,” she interjected.
I looked up from the driveway at which we stood, and as I did, my eyes were attacked by a mountain of white. I recognised the house instantly- it was the house everyone in the village admired. It was a manor more than a house, with around fifty clear glass windows showing from the front side alone as green ivy branches spread loosely across the white exterior. Even the pillars between the two front doors gave the exterior a Grecian-like image that was quite obviously out of sync with most of the old timber houses in town. But then again, Sophia Hillingdon wasn’t like most people in Boxford.
“Well, this is it.”
“Yeah, I suppose… I suppose it is.”
“Thank you for walking me home, Sean. I had a lovely evening, even if you did scare the living daylights out of me with that voice of yours.”
“Well, aside from my terrible awkwardness and shouting, I hope I, at least, made it up to you with that walk. In fact, I was just thinking, well you know, I was kind of thinking we should-”
“You were thin-”
We soon stopped short, somewhat gratified that both our cheeks had reddened.
“Thinking, sorry, I mean knowing that I’ll be at the animal sanctuary tomorrow after work, do you fancy meeting there again?”
“I’d like that; I’d like that a lot.”
“I finish work at three; normally I go straight there after, maybe with a detour next time?”
“That sounds perfect.”
We waved goodbye, and as Sophia stepped further up the driveway towards her house, I couldn’t help but stand and look on. Her hair was a magnificent burning strawberry blonde colour with golden blonde streaks and thick and elongated strands that ran down the midsection of her back.
Turning the keys, she turned around one last time.
“Goodnight, Sean.”
“Goodnight,” I whispered.
[Want more? Click below to read another excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"He kept me turning the pages to the extent that I finished the book in one sitting, and not without quite a few tears" ~ The Bookbag
"I am not lying when I say I cried all through this book. The synopsis gives a strong sense of what happens and all while reading I just knew. Hugo Driscoll wrote this story so beautiful and it felt as if he'd written it directly from his heart. Both Sean and Sophia are wonderful characters and what they go through is heart breaking and so real. Seven days doesn't feel like a long time, but it certainly felt close to forever as I read." ~ Haddie Harper
"This book is a very touching story. Sean and Sophia have a fast paced relationship. Though they are from completely different families, in different social classes, they seem to be meant to be together. [...] This is a cute short book for your summer romance reads." ~ Jill Jemmett
"Wow! This book was so much more than I was expecting. Seven Days With You features quite a cast of quirky characters, many of whom charm the reader's heart despite their unique first impressions. I anticipated a lot of what would happen as it unfolded. However. The wonderful characters combined with the author's talent for snark and witty dialogue compensated for what it lacked in mystery, making it a captivating read from cover to cover." ~ C. Gonzalez
"This was a young adult novel that really made me think on a deeper level than most. I think that Hugo Driscoll really managed to keep his readers engaged with these characters the entire way through. There were many surprises and the way that the author was able to keep the pacing just right really helps everything flow naturally." ~ Bailey Ember

About the Author
Hugo Driscoll
Hugo Driscoll is a 25-year-old British author and content writer for an online publication in London.
When he's not working, you can usually find him writing in the basements of cafes or lamenting the unfair treatment of millennials in overcrowded London bars.
Seven Days with You is his first novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.