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Blackhorse Road by Merida Johns - Book Tour + Giveaway

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Blackhorse Road
by Merida Johns


GENRE: Women’s fiction romance


 Under another hand, Blackhorse Road could all too easily have been a singular romance. Johns provides more as she follows Luci down the rabbit hole and out the other side of life experience, bringing readers into a world where . . . transgression changes everything and challenges carefully-constructed foundations of belief and values. As Luci lets go of her lifesavers and navigates obstacles to happiness, her story becomes a vivid portrait of hope and self-examination which ultimately moves into unexpected territory. Novel readers seeking a tale that closely considers deception and forgiveness, love gained and lost, and family ties will welcome the multifaceted Blackhorse Road's ability to come full circle in a satisfyingly unexpected way. - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

It’s the turbulent mid-1960s, and Luci, an eighteen-year-old Southern California girl, is on the quest for self-determination and new beginnings. Three powerful forces influence her values: the grit of her Irish great-grandmother, Lucinda McCormick; the philosophy of choice of her father, Sam; and the 1960s ideals of equity and altruism. But potent foes thwart Luci at every turn. Her budding romance with a handsome United States Air Force Academy cadet sets the stage for conflict and deception that last for two decades. When Luci discovers how her autonomy and her love affair were hijacked, she struggles with anger and bitterness. But from a surprising source, she finds a forgiveness path that restores her well-being and hope and, in the end, faith in herself.


Uncertain what to make of Luci’s stillness, Barry brought his head close to hers and asked, “What are you thinking?”

Luci held back, still gazing ahead. She turned and drilled into Barry’s blue eyes. “I guess, using an Irish term, I could say, ‘What a bunch of malarkey!’” She drew back her lips in a saucy grin and weighed his reaction.

Luci’s response was unarming but charming. Barry laughed. “No one has ever told me in such a nice way that I’m full of bullshit.”

“Well, I guess there’s that!” Luci chuckled, then turned thoughtful. “Putting the ‘BS’ aside, I’d say the story is about choices, not a lovestruck fairy tale. It’s about risks and consequences and being true to your values. It’s about living who you are and not how someone else expects you to live.”


Author Interview
1. How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
The first writing of the book takes me about six to nine months.  But that is only the first draft!  
Afterward, the manuscript is reviewed by the developmental editor who assesses the structure of the novel, looks for gaps in the plot, and evaluates character development.  From my point of view, developmental editing is one of the most critical steps for ensuring the story delivers a good experience for the reader.  I’m am fortunate to have a fantastic developmental editor who has great insight and talent.
After the developmental editing is completed, I rewrite the manuscript before sending it for the first round of copyediting, which results in my rewriting once more.  But . . . I’m not finished yet.  There is a review by the beta readers to assess the story from a reader’s perspective.  Given the beta reader’s input, the manuscript may require additional drafts.  After rewriting, the manuscript undergoes an additional round of copyediting and proofreading before it is ready for printing.  The entire process from concept to finished product takes between two-and-a-half to three years!
2. How do you select the names of your characters?
I choose names that feel as if they fit the character and the era. For example, in Blackhorse Road, there is a character named Lucinda, who was born in Northern Ireland in the mid1800s.  At first, a reader may question whether the surname might be out of place for someone of Irish origin.  However, in doing my research, I found that Lucinda was a popular name for that era in the county where Lucinda was born.  The protagonist in Blackhorse Road is Luci, and her name is a modernized version of her great grandmother Lucinda’s name—perfect for a mid-1960’s gal who wants to be hip.
3. What creature do you consider your “spirit animal” to be?
The rabbit is my spirit animal.  Several rabbit figurines and stuffed toys populate my office.  In mythology, rabbits can act as guides between earth and heaven for spiritual growth.  The rabbit is an excellent navigator who is mindful and lives in the present moment.   The rabbit spirit animal is a perfect fit in guiding me in writing stories about ordinary people maneuver the stepping stones of life and in following their North Star.
4. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
When I started writing, I took to heart two pieces of advice:  write about what you know and know about what you write.  My novel blossoms from my imagination. That creativity, though, is influenced by what I know—my experience, perspectives, and observations that give the story authenticity and sensitivity, helping readers connect with the characters and feel their joy, disappointment, sorrow, and happiness.
But there is another part of Blackhorse Road—the part where I know about what I write. My imagination and experience were supplemented by research that opened a new world of fascination. For things that I wanted to know more about,  I took a shovel and start digging and couldn’t stop—hungry to learn and examine how historical events, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and psychology might influence the values of the characters and ultimately the consequences of their actions.  What I uncovered, through old letters, diaries, and other firsthand accounts, I’ve shared and exposed within the whirlwind of my imagination on the pages of the story.  As reviewer Gayle Scroggs says, “The exceptional self-awareness that the characters show is what stands out in Blackhorse Road.” And it is the backstories added to my imagination that add depth to the characters and events. 
5. What is your favorite genre to read?  
My favorite works of fiction and nonfiction highlight the woman’s journey for a fulfilled self.  Currently, I’m reading My Dear Hamilton (Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie), which is a novel about Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a woman perhaps more fearless than the man that she married.  Other works that I’ve enjoyed include James Alexander Thom’s works Warrior Woman, a story a Shawnee Woman Chief, and Follow the River, an account based on the courage and grit of the pioneer woman, Mary Ingles. 
And I love diaries, published and non-published. My first stop in every museum gift shop is the bookshelf, looking published diaries and letters.  A couple of examples are Covered Wagon Women Diaries and Letters from The Western Trails, 1850 edited and compiled by Kenneth L. Holmes and Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
For three decades, I was a university professor who taught classes and wrote textbooks on “nerdy” subjects centering on computer systems in healthcare.  

But a decade ago, informed by my experience in a male-dominated area, I started my practice as a leadership coach to help women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential. Consequently, during the past ten years, I transitioned from writing textbooks to motivational books on creating environments where people flourish through better leadership.

 About a year ago, I was on a conference call discussing concepts of what makes a fulfilling life with fellow life coaches.  Bang! Like a thunderclap, I had an insight. What would it be like to help people understand the concepts of a flourishing life in a story instead of through a motivational book or text? After all, I thought, storytelling has been the most compelling form of communication for thousands of years. As far as I could recall, none of the great prophets fed up learning objectives and multiple-choice questions to their followers.  No!  They got their message across through stories.

 Motivational books and textbooks give frameworks, theories, and ideas, but they don’t immerse us in the human experience. They don’t show us how others face challenges, embrace their passions, overcome sorrow, celebrate achievement, quash self-doubts, develop positive emotions and relationships, handle betrayal, or act on aspirations. 

 Storytelling ignites our imagination and emotion.  We experience being part of the story rather than being served up a platter of facts, exercises, and information. 

This eye-opener was enough for me to take on the challenge of novel writing.  My passion is to help people catapult beyond concepts and theories and jump into the wonderment of imagination in designing a flourishing life for themselves.  Storytelling does this best.

Happily, as a fiction writer, I have jettisoned learning objectives and test questions.  Ah…the freedom makes me feel as light as a balloon on a summer breeze.



Merida Johns will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner
via rafflecopter during the tour.

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  1. Thanks for hosting. This was a great interview that skillfully mixed it up--elements about the author, about the story, and an opportunity to share with others things that have helped to keep me inspired as an author

  2. I appreciate hearing about your book, thanks and for the giveaway also. Thanks so much!

  3. How long did it take you to write your book?


Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.