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Author Q&A with @MLJohnsAuthor | BLACKHORSE ROAD Book Tour and $25 Amazon/BN GC #Giveaway | @GoddessFish Promotions Presents #WomensFiction

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for BLACKHORSE ROAD by Merida Johns and stops at Readeropolis with an author ...

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for BLACKHORSE ROAD by Merida Johns and stops at Readeropolis with an author interview. The women's fiction romance is available now from Coffee Cup Press.

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

Be to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found by clicking the banner below.

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:

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

This is such a great question because how I look at the audience for Blackhorse Road today is different than the one I envisioned when I was writing the story.

Blackhorse Road as a work of women’s fiction—a story of a woman protagonist’s journey toward a fulfilled self. Because of its genre, I believed that the story would appeal primarily to women age thirty and older who relish diving into narratives about how ordinary women tackle challenges, face deception and betrayal, and struggle with self-doubt but are able to come full circle in unexpected ways.

Since launching the book, I have had a couple of “Ah-ha” moments that have changed my perspective.

The first came during a virtual launch party for Blackhorse Road, an audience member asked the beta readers if the book would be appropriate for younger readers. What prompted that question was the beta readers’ observation about how the lines of communication between Luci (the protagonist) and her father play a critical role in the formation of Luci’s values and belief system, and her grit to achieve autonomy. In response to the question, one of the beta readers said that she had given the book to her seventeen-year-old granddaughter so that the two of them could read it together, and another beta reader shared that she was reading the book with her fourteen-year-old daughter. The consensus among the beta readers was that the book was appropriate for teens fifteen and older.

Diane Donovon, Senior Reviewer Midwest Book Review notes the strong communication and interplay among the characters in the following way:
The first strength to note about Blackhorse Road is that Merida L. Johns takes the time to not just present family interactions and scenarios to form a foundation for Luci’s roots, but describes interplays between generations with exquisite detail, including insights about the origins of their prejudices, belief systems, and experiences: “Clearing the breakfast dishes from the table, Luci grimaced. When acting spirited, Sam could be frustrating. “Pop, please. No, Barry is not ugly. In fact, he’s very, very cute.” “Ah, I see I’ve hit a chord,” Sam teased. “Come here and tell your pop more about this boy that you’re going to see tonight.” That statement took Luci off guard....In her mother’s mind, as the family knew, the Irish were the salt of the earth. A question no one dared to ask, though, was whether Marie regretted not marrying one of her prosperous Irish cousins rather than Sam.”
The second ah-ha moment came from a text I received from a middle-aged man who had just finished reading Blackhorse Road.  “Just finished Blackhorse Road.  WOW!  Very powerful.  Made me cry!  Great job.  Let me know when you have a book signing event in my area.”
Given my “ah-ha” moments,  my answer is that Blackhorse Road is for any reader, fifteen years or older, who likes stories about how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through sorrow and betrayal, struggle with self-doubt, and act on their aspirations to achieve flourishing lives.  Blackhorse Road is for any reader who delights in connecting with the characters becoming one with the story.  

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

The book title and cover raise a lot of curiosity.  But the three elements on the cover—the red envelope, gold key, and title—are as tightly interconnected as the threads of a tapestry. 

The first reveal of the title’s meaning comes in Chapter 12, a third of the way into the book—but readers, who think they have uncovered the real meaning of the title, will be surprised by an unexpected twist in the final chapter that unveils the complete mystery behind the title.  Caution to readers—no peeking!

Without unveiling the enigma of the title, what I can provide, however, is the following quote that reveals the symbolism associated with the title, if not its underlying significance to the protagonist’s story.

Closing her eyes, Luci dug back into her memories of Celtic tales retold to her on sultry evenings on her grandmother’s porch. The horse represents freedom, and a black horse signifies strength, wisdom, and maturity for overcoming life’s obstacles. Perhaps there are coincidences, after all!

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

What a difficult question to answer.
As I wrote the story, I formed a relationship with all of the characters in Blackhorse Road. I was amazed at how the characters surprised me as they evolved from my computer keyboard. I found myself challenging them with questions. Luci, you did what?  What were you thinking, Chris? Berry, that was heavy!  Sean, you were brilliant!  Marie, how could you go so low?  I also fell in love with characters I would never have anticipated, and I was unpredictably torn between love interests—pure satisfaction that made me smile as the words tumbled across the computer screen!

If I have to pick one character who fascinated me the most and who is the most complicated, it is Marie, the protagonist’s mother. There is a mystery about Marie that engaged my developmental editor and my beta readers as well as myself. In the focus group with my beta readers, Marie is the character that took up the most space and intensity of the discussion. She brought up emotions that ranged from dislike to hate and fell on various points on the spectrum between compassion and disgust.
I think most readers will relate to Marie because she is familiar to them—a person that they have known but have never been able to decode to figure out what makes her tick. The following quote gives a hint to the complicated nature of this character, why she remains a mystery, and why she has prompted such fierce discussion among my beta readers.

To describe her mother as a two-faced personality would be the most straightforward response. But instinctively, Luci knew better. She had overheard Sam telling Adele one time, “Your mother is a complex and troubled woman.” Those words stuck in Luci’s mind and begged the question, Why is she troubled? Untangling the web of Marie’s behavior, however, was not easy for her eighteen-year-old daughter.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

A fun fact is that in all my fiction, there will be a character named Jack, and dog lovers will be delighted to find that a Boston Terrier plays a significant, if cameo, role.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Word of mouth among readers and book lovers is the most potent way of making a book successful. That communication can take many forms: recommending the book to a hometown library, book clubs, and to friends and others via social media.

Following me on my blog at on twitter @MLJohnsAuthor, on my FB page and on Goodreads and Amazon author pages is helpful. If readers want to find out more about the Blackhorse Road or works in progress, I post regularly to all of these social media platforms. I’m also planning on hosting Blackhorse Road Virtual Discussion Parties beginning after Labor Day. So stay tuned for these announcements via my social media.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am working on a women’s fiction novel tentatively titled Suzanna that begins in Columbus, Ohio, in the mid-1980s. Suzanna has her whole life in front of her like an open freeway or so she believes . . . The story is packed with challenges and hard decisions, as Suzanna strives to follow her North Star. The ending, like Blackhorse Road, has a surprising twist—this one, though, might raise the reader’s curiosity just enough to wonder if coincidences that edge on the paranormal might be real. Stay tuned!


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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great post and I appreciate getting to find out about another great book. Thanks for all you do and for the hard work you put into this. Greatly appreciated!

  2. I liked the excerpt, sounds good.

  3. Great excerpt and interview, I enjoyed reading them!

  4. Do you have any ideas for a follow up?

  5. Hi Bernie: Yes, one is in progress now. It is another women's fiction that I am working on a women’s fiction novel tentatively titled Suzanna that begins in the mid-1980s. Suzanna has her whole life in front of her like an open freeway or so she believes . . . The story is packed with challenges and hard decisions, as Suzanna strives to follow her North Star. The ending, like Blackhorse Road, has a surprising twist—this one, though, might raise the reader’s curiosity just enough to wonder if coincidences that edge on the paranormal might be real. Stay tuned!

  6. Thanks so much for hosting me and Blackhorse Road. I loved the interview questions and being able to address the target audience of the book (my perceptions have changed since the release of the book) and be able to delve into the complex character of Marie. Great questions!

  7. Looks like an interesting book.
    Thanks for the contest. 

  8. Do you listen to music when you write?

  9. Do you write more in bad weather or sunshine?

  10. Do you relax on the weekends?

  11. Do you write on a computer or tablet?

  12. How do you choose the art work for the cover?

  13. Do you take holidays off from writing?

  14. Thanks for the opportunity to win! And thanks for sharing.

  15. What author do you most admire? Read the most?

  16. How many books do you read in a year?

  17. Do you take time to read as well as write?

  18. Do you remember to drink water when you're writing?

  19. How has the pandemic affected you and your writing?

  20. Are you doing anything special this weekend?

  21. How many hours a day do you write?

  22. LAST DAY
    Thanks for the contest.


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