Blog Tour Showcase: Blackhorse Road

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Blackhorse Road
Media Johns

Women’s Fiction, Romance
304 Pages
Published July 4, 2020 by Coffee Cup Press

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 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.

Blackhorse Road: A novel about deception and forgiveness and love gained and lost

Q&A with the Author, Merida Johns

How a Time is a Secondary Character in Blackhorse Road

“The exceptional self-awareness that the characters show is what stands out in Blackhorse Road,” says Blackhorse Road reviewer Gayle Scroggs, PhD, PDD.

As the author, I wanted the values, beliefs, and life philosophy of Blackhorse Road’s characters to form the story’s backbone. Here, characters mean not only just people in Blackhorse Road but eras as well. Yes, that’s right, eras were made them into their own characters!

Tony Hoagland, author and poet, writes that “The glory of the protagonist is always paid for by a lot of secondary characters.” In Blackhorse Road, time is not an add on or a placeholder. Instead, it becomes a secondary character that adds depth and perspective to the protagonist, antagonist, and other secondary characters. Stories are about relationships with people, but people also have a relationship with the era in which they live. I wanted to make those relationships come alive in Blackhorse Road, whether it was a treacherous immigration period, a turbulent social justice era, or a time when many people almost lost all hope.

Readers tell me that in Blackhorse Road, they connect with the different time periods. Just as readers form relationships with secondary characters that are people, they also form connections with different eras in the story. For some, the association is most acute surrounding the Irish immigration to Canada between the 1830s and mid-nineteenth century. For others, it is the mid-1960s or the Great Depression with the story.

Readers might ask, How do you turn an era into a secondary character? I connect people to eras through reading old letters, diaries, or other firsthand accounts of the period. These documents reveal a relationship between a person and an inanimate object, and through this relationship, it isn’t tricky to turn an era into a secondary character.

It’s my hope that that as readers connect with Luci, the protagonist, and Sam, Barry, Shelia, Chris, and the other secondary “people” characters in Blackhorse Road that they will also feel a bond with the time eras in which all the people characters lived as well.



Monday, July 18, 1966 – Buffalo, NY

Dear Luci with an i,

Here I am at 2:00 a.m., a lonely lover whose sole comfort comes from the cherished memories we made together a few hours ago. My desk is a witness to the completion of many term papers and homework assignments, but it has never been my partner in a confession of love. Can words convey the depth of my thoughts, rampant emotions, and gratitude to you? I’m uncertain they exist, and if they did, it’s unclear that I could assemble them to explain how you have captured my heart and what you mean to me.

I’m no John Keats or Robert Browning, but my feelings are no less potent than their descriptions of love. Being “in love” is a passion like the flames of a blistering fire that race across the prairie. It’s fierce and red, self-serving, and out of control. It feeds upon itself until there is nothing left. “To love,” though, is a passion like the embers of a flickering fire that lingers within the hearth. It’s gentle and glowing, crackles with surprise, and permeates the senses. It’s warm and steady. It rekindles itself, and it endures.

With you, Luci, being “in love,” is inadequate for me. No, I love you. You unexpectedly and beautifully transformed my life the evening you entered it. Because of you, my world flourishes in joy, compassion, amusement, serenity, and awe. I feel, for the first time, that I am entirely immersed in the bounty of life. I would be lost and hollow without you. You’ve made me complete. I can face any hurdle and accomplish anything with you beside me. Our time is just beginning, Luci, as we walk across the stepping-stones of life together.

For all of this and more, I seal my love with gratitude for our memory making. I send you a cascade of Bois Blanc Island kisses, placing each one where I know it will please you the most.


Meet the Author

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.

Get Social with Merida

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Merida Johns will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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8 Responses

  1. Merida Johns

    Thanks for hosting. I appreciated the opportunity to share how “time” was used as a secondary character in Blackhorse Road. So many readers have contacted me about how they connected to the 1960s time period as well as to other secondary characters in the story.

  2. James Robert

    Great hearing about your book. Thanks for sharing and for this giveaway also.

  3. Jan Lee

    The excerpt certainly proves this is woman’s romance. I think a lot would enjoy the story but it’s not my genre.

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