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


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

I love learning how people find their inspiration for stories. Thanks for sharing, Jannine.

Anna Kathryn

Phyllis Campbell said...

Great blog, Jannine. You're so very lucky to have your husband and kids support you. I wish I could say that. My hubby thinks I'm writing about our sex life. (rolls eyes) In his dreams! But really, I think if I had that, it would inspire me, too.

Also, congrats on being Reviewer's Pick!


Sasha Bailey said...

Your thoughts are helpful and it's so nice to see someone praise her husband!

Jannine said...

Hi Anna Kathryn:
I forgot to mention that music is also an inspiration. I wrote REBEL HEART because of the BonJovi songs "Miracle" and "Santa Fe" from his Young Guns cd.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jannine said...

LOL, Phyllis, my husband boasts that I use him for the sex scenes! And he's not entirely wrong!!!

I mention my husband in my Dedication in all my books. He's a big part of who I am today.

Glad you commented.

Jannine said...

Hi Sasha:
Before my husband and I got married, I had many girlfriends who asked if he had a twin. He's been supportive of me from the first time we met in the summer of 1971.

Thanks for commenting.

Lisa Logan said...

LOL Great post...and yes, inspiration sometimes comes from our own love lives!!

Once you start thinking like a writer, story ideas can pop up from all kinds of sources--dreams, snippets of conversation, a news headline, anywhere! Thanks for sharing how you find yours. (And kudos to the hubby!)


Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your inspiration. It's wonderful that you have such a supportive husband. I have one, too, although poor guy has deluded himself into believing he's the role model for my sex scenes. *lol* I let him believe it, just smile and nod.


Jannine said...

Hi Lisa:
I think a writer's mind is unique. It has to be, lol! Especially when our characters talk to us. A non-writer wouldn't understand the way we work.

Good to see you here.

Jannine said...

Ginger, you're too funny. Hey, what your hubby doesn't know... Right?

Thanks for commenting.
Luv ya.