Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Beautiful Mess by John Herrick

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. 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. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

It was called The Pet’s Revolt, by Sheila Greenwald. I read it 2 or 3 times as a kid. An educator gave it to me as a gift, probably a freebie she had on hand. To this day, that book sits on my bookshelf!

What is your favorite book today?

Aside from the Bible, my favorite is The Great Gatsby. I read it in high school, but it’s hard to enjoy required reading when you need to memorize stuff for a test. But as an adult, I reread it for pleasure and discovered its beauty on my own. I had the opportunity to identify the symbolism myself. It’s one of the few books I revisit.

Tell us about your current book, Beautiful Mess, in 10 words.

Fallen star. Rising star. Clueless life coach. Marilyn Monroe. Self-discovery.

What are you reading right now?

A Criminal Defense by William L. Myers, Jr. Good so far. It’s one of my Kindle reads.

Do you have any bad book habits?

Like many avid readers, if a book of interest is bargain-priced, I’ll buy it before I’m ready to read it. I have a TON of presidential biographies and other American history books I may never have a chance to read but wish I could. Same for fiction, but I plow through a lot of fiction since I write it. Little organization, but I have a semi-photographic memory for details, so I remember where books are by the picture of what they “look like” on my shelf!

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

Always a bookmark. Aside from when I take notes in them, I keep my books (and other possessions) in excellent condition. Habit, I guess. But it’s one reason why I rarely lend my books. In high school, I lent my pristine copy of The Great Gatsby to a friend. When he returned it a few weeks later, it looked like their dog had gotten hold of it, left it out in the rain, then allowed it to air-dry on the front porch. I mean, it had a hole torn in the front cover—literally torn, like he’d decided to shove a pencil through it! That’s when I realized some people don’t take care of what they own. Or maybe it’s just perfectionism on my part. (Pet peeve alert there!)

Favorite book you've read this year?

I’ve been in a James Patterson crunch. My goal is to delve into suspense, so I’ve crammed through half of his backlist. I want to study what he and his co-writers do because Patterson is a master at crafting fiction with a strong commercial bent. My favorite book this year was Murder Games, co-written with Howard Roughan. Looking at the long-term track record, I think Howard has established himself as Patterson’s strongest consistent co-writer, in part because he knows how to maximize every possible opportunity for suspense.

Favorite book to recommend?

Paranoia by Joseph Finder.

What would make you not finish a book?

Years ago, I forced myself to complete every book I started, even if the book was horrible or lacked character development. Nowadays, I give myself permission to let a book go if it doesn’t keep my attention. Life is too short. But in consideration to the author, I never post negative reviews—especially if I haven’t read the entire book.

Keep books or give them away?

I should give them away, but I keep them. Sometimes, years down the road, I want to flip through one to study how an author handles something, so those books become reference books for me. I never know which one I’ll need, so… But believe me, I’d prefer to just give them away.

That was fun! Thanks so much for letting me chat with you and your readers!


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.


“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.”


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.”


Buy the book at Amazon.


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