Story ideas: Where do they come from?

My inspiration for my stories comes from many different sources. I'm a people watcher. The little nuances and mannerisms of the human being are fascinating. In any given situation, three people will react differently. Depending on the personality of my characters, molding them after a real person gives them life and makes them believable.

Newspapers are a fountain of information. Whether a tidbit or a full-blown story, I'll clip it and store it away. How often have you seen tv dramas announce "ripped from the headlines?" Quite often, fact is more unbelievable than fiction. It can give your story an edge, lifting it above a traditional plot line.

For me, many story ideas and character studies come from life's experiences. The plot for a book I co-wrote in the 80s was molded after an incident that happened to me when I was eighteen. Many writers draw from their past, present or what they see in their future. A fertile mind is a blessing. Coupled with the ability to observe the world around you, it's one of the best sources of inspiration for any work of fiction.

While inspiration comes in many forms and from many places, there is one that I cherish the most: my husband. His encouragement has allowed me to create. He and my children have motivated me to do what is in my heart. From the first story I wrote over twenty years ago to my present release, they have believed in me. Through my struggle to become published, they never told me to quite. And the times I was discouraged, they were there to lift my spirits, enabling me to write.

My present release, CARINA AND THE NOBLEMAN, is the first book of the Sisters of Destiny trilogy about three psychic sisters separated at birth. It takes place in Northern Italy in 1425. Book two, CHARLOTTE AND THE GYPSY, which I am presently writing, takes place in a Gypsy camp in Andalusia, Spain. Book three, CALLIE AND THE KNIGHT, takes place near London.

CARINA is available in ebook and print.

Reviewers Pick!
Carina and the Nobleman by Jannine Corti Petska
Genre: Medieval Romance
Price: $6.95
Rating: This story touched me. I absolutely loved it. I loved Carina's strength, endurance, and faith to continue with her mission to find her family. She was a very funny character as well as she dealt with her duties to Count Luciano about adding to her time that she would have to serve him. From start to finish it was a story that I did not want to end. Now I am wondering if there is more to come from this story. I would love to read more if there is! Those who love fairy tale romances must read Carina and the Nobleman!
Forced to the streets after her mother dies, Carina Gallo is desperate to survive and find her long lost sisters. Consumed with locating his missing brother, Count Luciano has forsaken his needs. When he catches beautiful and vulnerable Carina stealing from him, he takes pity and cares for her until she's strong enough to work off her crime. Carina is forever grateful to Luciano, yet fears he will learn of her wicked secret and condemn her to burn. Will Luciano and Carina find a way to feed the mutual passions they share, or will heresy and obsession with lost family destroy them both?Excerpt:

After Carina steals food from his tavern, Luciano rescues her from starvation and takes her to his home to get healthy and to work off her crime. This is the first meeting where he tries to learn who she is. His manservant has fallen ill, and his upstairs maid is also showing signs of becoming sick.

“Did you come here to ply your trade?”
“And what trade might that be, my lord?”
He forced himself to remain rooted to the floor else he’d throttle the
outspoken wench. “Are you a strumpet?”
His directness caused her to blush. She wasn’t unshakable after all.
“I fear you have misjudged me, Count Ruggero.”
“Then from where did you come? And I’ll have a straightforward
She dropped her hands to the folds of the silk gown. To hide her
nervousness over speaking of her past? Luciano wondered.
“I worked for the Baldovini,” she replied.
His eyes bore into her. Carina read his suspicion.
"If you do not believe me, send someone to the Baldovini to inquire
about me,” she openly challenged. “I spent the whole of my life on their
lands, working the fields these four years past.”
He set his goblet down gently and moved closer. “You were a
She nodded but couldn’t speak with the count standing but a long
stride away. His imposing presence commanded attention. Were she not
a pauper and he a count, she’d assuredly lure him into a kiss, as
improper as it might be. It wouldn’t be an unpleasant experience, she’d
wager. The only kiss she’d ever received from a man had been from the
lecherous, slobbering Signor Baldovini. He had cornered her and tried to
snatch more than just a kiss. Miseria! She still cringed from the horrible
“The Baldovini employ only men and boys to work their fields,” the
count pointed out.
“Signora Baldovini did not allow me to work in her private
He stepped closer. So close, Carina smelled the clean scent from his
morning bath and the faint fragrance of wine on his breath. Her heart’s
pace quickened.
“Why would the signora forbid you from her home?”
“Truth be told, Signor Baldovini had an eye for me. The signora told
my mother I tempted her husband. Mamma knew better, for Signor
Baldovini has an eye for all women and has many bastard children.”
The count’s cheeks lined with shallow dimples when he suppressed a
smile at her directness. Carmine Baldovini’s illegitimate children were a
well-known fact, one his wife continually denied.
“Did you tempt him?”
Carina cocked her head and tightened her mouth.
“I will take your silence as an affirmation.”
“No!” she exploded, unduly put out by his judgment of her character.
“I did not tempt him, and I am not a strumpet. I am still a vir—” Her lips
slammed together.
Pleased to hear her virtue remained intact, Luciano took another step
forward. His pulse hastened and suddenly he desired to touch Carina’s
cheek, to know if it was as preciously smooth as it looked. “Why are you
no longer working for the Baldovini?”
He was not prepared for the sadness flooding her features. He
gentled his demeanor.
“My mother died four months past. Signora Baldovini demanded I
leave at once. I had no where to go but the streets.”
The directness of her gaze captured his. Not weak in courage by any
means, she hadn’t looked away when she replied. Gesu, how could he
allow her to pluck his heartstrings as she did? He felt her sorrow and
wished he could comfort her. Sorrow he knew all about. But where did
the need to hold her come from?
“And still a virgin. You are fortunate.”
“Mayhap.” She shifted her stance. “I am certain you did not bid me
here to discuss my virtue.”
His gut constricted again. “Maiden, you’d do well to mind your place
in my presence. And that includes your impulsive tongue.”
“Sì, my lord.” Contrite, but nonetheless acceptable.
“I shall leave you in Sandra’s care. Once you have attained a more
substantial…a healthier look about you,” he said carefully when her
head tilted, “you’ll tend to my chamber.” So much for keeping her at a
distance. “That means seeing to my laundry and cleaning my chamber
and reading room, the same in which you sleep. You will also mend my
garments. Marcello carries my meals up when I am in no mood to dine
downstairs. So too, he lays out the clothes I wish to wear and sees to my
“Your pardon, count. Am I to clean your chamber pot as well?”
His tone clipped, he replied, “I use the garderobe.”
“And your bath?”
She wouldn’t ask if she knew the road his mind drifted down. The
scrawny wench teased his lust into awakening yet again, and the day
was still new. “That, angel, I shall take care of myself, with help from my
Was that relief he saw flitter across her face?
“Then I agree to the duties you have stated.”
“Agree?” He couldn’t hide his disbelief. “Agree?” he repeated,
closing the gap between them. Looming above her, forcing her to tilt her
head to see his face, he wondered if she was a fool or just naïve. She
didn’t even attempt to move away. Any other woman would have
cowered back.
“Sì, agree.”
“There is naught for you to agree to. You are working off a debt. Your
service to me is your punishment for stealing.”
“It is, my lord.”
She relented. Luciano became suspicious.
“How long must I work to pay my debt, for I barely ate enough to
warrant a lengthy punishment. And I did lose it all, do you not recall?”
Her reasoning askew, he realized he could reprimand her until the
morrow and she’d not tone down her carelessly spoken words. Had she
lost sight of the fact she had committed a crime? It mattered not how
much she stole. Or that she’d lost it shortly after eating.
A firm knock interrupted their meeting. Agitated, Luciano barked,
Sandra rushed in, her cheeks flushed, her face wrought with worry.
“Beg your pardon, Count Ruggero. Please forgive me for not
accompanying Signorina Gallo.”
He nodded, though he was concerned. Except for the warm color on
her cheeks, she appeared as if standing was a chore. Her rapid breathing
confused him, and he would have addressed her health if he knew she
was prone to illness. But Sandra and Marcello hadn’t been sick a day
since they came to work at the manor.
“Our meeting is over,” he said and slid his gaze to the wench. “Get to
the kitchen for food. The first order will be to fatten you up. For that I
shall add a new debt for you to work off.”
He glared at her to keep her from speaking another cursed retort.
“I do not run a room and board here.”
“Count Ruggero—”
“Not another word.”
“But I must—”
He clamped his hand over her mouth but her lips continued to move,
tickling his palm. “Be damned, woman. Must I tie a cloth around your
mouth to silence you?”
“If you must…” She swept past him, her head held erect, and glided
toward the open door. Her gracefulness contributed to the appearance of
her floating on air. No commoner had he ever seen walk as regally as she
His fingers twitched, his entire body tensed. As he watched her walk
away, a strange feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. About to turn his
back to her, he paused when she called his name and faced him with a
tantalizing grin, which renewed the tingling in his groin.
“You cannot fatten me up, count. I am thin by nature.”
Blasted wench! He slammed the door then miserably adjusted the
swell in his hose.

Please visit my website to read the first chapter of CARINA AND THE NOBLEMAN
ebook available at

Western Romance author-Celia Yeary

I refer to a small book written in 1986—most of you out there were babies—by Robert Fulghum. His offering hit the big time, #1 Best Seller in that decade, and it is the simplest book you’ve ever seen. The full title is All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Hoping that Mr. Fulghman—in case he reads Jenny’s blog every day—will allow me to quote him, here is his list of important things to learn.
1. Share everything
2. Play fair
3. Don’t hit people
4. Put things back where you found them
5. Clean up your own mess
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours
7. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody
8. Wash your hands before you eat
9. Flush
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you
11. Live a balanced life—learn, think, draw, paint, sing, dance, play, and work
12. Take a nap every afternoon
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, stick together
14. Wonder
15. Everything dies. So do we.
16. Remember the biggest word from the Dick-and-Jane books-LOOK

Of all these suggestions, which one hits closest to home?

Me? I can get through #6-easy-peasy. But there’s #7. This is a stickler. I don’t go around hurting people intentionally, and I do believe I’m kind enough that I rarely do. But if I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings, would I know it? And what would I do about it? On to #8-#16. Those aren’t too difficult. Especially “take a nap every afternoon.” That one’s a snap.

Back to #7.
As I pondered this, I concluded that we always hurt the one we love, the one who is closest to our heart—our spouse or SO, our best friend, someone who thought she was your friend but you didn’t treat her that way, your child, your sister, your next door neighbor.
Why do I mention this? Romance stories. Now, you knew I’d get around to romance novels, eventually, didn’t you? Isn’t this our common tie on this blog? What is the formula for a good love story? The H/H meet; they fall in love; they hurt one another in some way (you cannot guarantee smooth sailing in a romance), the H/H reconcile and apologize. And they lived HEA.Ta-da!

My computer is jam-packed with manuscripts. Fortunately, three have found success. As I sit here and think of all this writing I’ve done, in every case and every plot, someone gets hurt. My job as the author is to reconcile the pair. Now. The next time you’re stuck with writer’s block, remember #7. While you’re at it, remember #10, 11, 12, and 14. Those should help you along your journey. You are, after all, a writer.
All My Hopes and Dreams-a Western Historical Romance set in 1880 Texas. By Celia Yeary
Excerpt: hurt feelings

“Consuelo, where is my Mrs. Romero? I told her to clean up, but I can’t find her.”
“Why, she is over to her little house, sir. You know, where her belongings are. She said she would go draw water from the well and bathe. Her clothes are there.”
The situation finally dawned on him. “Damn!” he said, and stalked out the door and across the open expanse to the third little house from the end.
When he walked in, she was nowhere to be found. He looked in the lean-to on the back. The round galvanized tub there had about two inches of water in it. He saw her approaching the back door, carrying a bucket of well water with both hands. She was struggling.
“Hell, Cynthia. What do you think you’re doing?”
She stared at him for only a moment; then she tossed the bucket as far as she could, which was only a very short distance, and water splashed out and onto her boots. She glared at him. Her blood obviously boiling as she yelled. “What do you think? I’m drawing water for my bath. And it’s…da…darn hard! And look at what you made me do. You made me drop my bucket. You…you sorry excuse for a husband.”
Before his very eyes, she dropped to the ground and bent double with her head in the dirt. She began to sob uncontrollably and pounded the ground with one fist. “I hate you!”
“Whoa, whoa,” he said very gently, as he hunkered down in front of her. He reached for her and pulled her up as he stood. “Up you go, now.” His arms encircled her and he pushed her head to his shoulder. “Shhh, now sweetheart. I’m sorry, so sorry. Shhh, don’t cry now. I’ll make it all better. Now come with me.”
She looked so tired, so spent. How could he have allowed so much to go wrong in such a little time? She was right. He wasn’t doing his part.
“I’m sorry, too, Ricardo,” she whispered. “I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know where I belong anymore.”
“I’ll show you. First, you’re coming home, to the house, your real home. Not this little cabin. You won’t live here anymore. Come on now.”
Thank you, friends, for stopping by Jenny's blog today. Please leave a reply.
Celia Yeary
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Texas Historical
Available in eBook: The Wild Rose Press
Available in print:, B&N

"Rachel owns a hip coffee shop in Seattle called Crowe’s Nest. She lives in an apartment a few blocks away where the walls are paper-thin. One fateful night her nice average life takes a strange turn when she hears her next door neighbor murdered. Into her life walks Detective Alex Williams, only this isn’t the first time she has met this hunk. Only yesterday, she threw him out of her coffee shop for being rude, obnoxious, and just socially unacceptable. Thus begins their adventure of solving who murdered her neighbor. I have found a new favorite author! In Under My Skin, Jenny Gilliam has delivered a fantastic book filled with murder, mystery, romance and a few laughs thrown in for good measure. Once Rachel gets over being annoyed at Alex, she discovers that there is more to him than just being a cop with a hot bod. Alex has been patronizing Rachel’s coffee shop for months. He’s had his eye on her, but never drummed up the courage to ask her out. Circumstances throw them together and one thing leads to another. Will Alex be able to protect Rachel when they realize that she is the murder’s next target? Who is the murder? Will they catch him in time? Will Rachel and Alex overcome the obstacles from their pasts so they can express the love they feel for each other? You have to read the book to find out the answers and trust me; it is definitely worth your time. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. There was no way I was going to put it down! I was captivated from the first page until the last. Rachel’s character is witty and a bit sarcastic, but because of circumstances from her past she is also skittish and timid when it comes to relationships with men. Alex’s character is serious and broody, he’s lost the passion in his life and the empathy he needs for his job. He’s the perfect counter balance to Rachel. Together they will find the balance they need in their lives. If you are looking to settle in with a good book full of mystery, suspense, romance, and some hot, steamy sex then you can’t go wrong with Under My Skin!" - MANIC REVIEWS