Moon in Bastet

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author E.S. Danon and her magical realism and  Jewish fiction novel, Moon in Bastet.

Author’s description

A memoir turned into thrilling fiction; Moon in Bastet is based on the life of author E. S. Danon. The story follows a fourteen-year-old girl named Eva, an orphan living in the Negev desert of Israel who is working as a custodian of Cirque Du Christianisme. Her life is controlled by a volatile drunk named Bella who favors a group of equally volatile teenage bullies over her and her own safety or sanity.

Bullied, neglected, and alone – Eva’s only friends are an odd, thirteen–year–old Sephardic boy named Jack and a small cohort of Bedouin sister-wives. On the brink of giving up on life, Eva stumbles upon a mysterious cat in the middle of the desert. Or really, did the cat stumble upon her?

Together they must fight to stay alive, win the battles thrown at them, and Eva must learn to not only lean on others but to trust in herself.

Filled with mystery, magic, and symbolism – Moon in Bastet is a story of resilience, survivorship, forgiveness, and women empowerment. This is a work filled with Jewish mysticism that can be enjoyed by people of all races, ages, and religions everywhere.

About the Author

Elizabeth Danon received her B.S. in Marine Science from Stony Brook University before working as a Marine Biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service. She traveled the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico: collecting data aboard commercial fishing vessels and dredges.

When that didn’t pan out to be the glorified job that she expected, finding herself covered in shark snot and fish scales daily, Elizabeth became a technical writer. In her spare time, she began doing standup comedy after taking comedy bootcamp with the Armed Services Arts Partnership. At this time, she married the most wonderful man who also provides most of her joke writing material. Unfortunately, because he’s Indian he has also enabled her Maggi addiction… Like she needed that on top of her already long-standing iced coffee issues.

Her favorite show is Schitt’s Creek, as she feels a special bond to her fellow comedians – and Sephardic brethren. Growing up half-Jewish herself, Elizabeth eventually converted to being full-Jewish with Temple Israel as a student of Rabbi Panitz.

Her enriched, but complicated, heritage has been an inspiration for most of her creative writing. Being an Aries, she has always felt like a leader and has therefore integrated her feminist beliefs into her work, albeit dropping every women’s studies course that she ever elected in college.

Additionally, her writing has an unmistakable international presence. Elizabeth wanted to discover as much as she could about her Sephardic Heritage and went on Birthright, followed by her independent travels to over ten other countries… carrying nothing but a red bookbag.

Find the Author at

Website: https://linktr.ee/esdanon
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/esdanon
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/DANON.ELIZABETH.BOOKS/about/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/esdanon

Buy Moon in Bastet

Buy on Amazon.   Buy at BN.

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

GF

My Favorite Excerpt

Mist twinkles atop the desert sand as a cohort of camels take their morning promenade. A girl runs past them, chasing the rising globe of fire.

Her breath labors as she slips on a rock.

“Ugh!”

A perfect little scrape forms on her knee, but she continues onward and unfazed.

Her skin is olive tinted; her head covered by a canopy of endless brown, curly hair. On her face sit two prominent beauty marks, on either side of her mouth. She is slender and not yet fully grown, but by no means does she have a frail frame. She wears a beige, spaghetti strapped dress that is knee length and complete with a secret pocket – all of which is covered in dirt. A headband woven from plants and flowers sits around the girl’s head.

This girl is named Eva.

She sprints up another dune’s side, her dress ballooning around her as she sits suddenly with crossed legs. The mirage of the sun’s gaseous performance begins to play on the horizon; another Israeli sun rise in the Negev. Like toy soldiers, the sun’s rays advance in a medley of oranges and yellows. Pink is usually reserved for sunrises – however on this day, a rosy aura is cast around the girl as she grabs a rock and casts it towards the sun: This is how a desert girl skips rocks. Next, she takes aim at the arse of the nearest camel.

The rock misses by centimeters, causing a fuss amongst the cohort, but Eva’s almond shaped, brown eyes glisten.

“G-d! Adonai! Where are you? I see you in the colors of the sky!” Her voice echoes as her eyes drift upon the sunrise. “Why are you ignoring me like everyone else does? I feel you in the warmth of light but where are you? Why haven’t you rescued me yet?” She shivers and brings her bare feet in closer to herself. “Can you at least give me a jacket? You’re not very gentleman-like, you know… it’s really chilly this morning.”

Eva puckers her lips in defeat, and then meditates in the following silence, focusing on the warmth ricocheting from the sand and onto her goosebumps.

“Well at least my cramps are gone,” she says once her anxiety diminishes – massaging her lower stomach, happy that her most recent predicament has gone away. “But yet I still must deal with the cramp of life: being unheard and misunderstood.”

Reminded of the reason why she came to pray in the first place, Eva turns to the sky and gives a cloud a dirty look. “G-d, you have approximately twenty-four hours or I will throw rocks at every camel that I see! I can’t survive in that stupid Circus another day.” She throws a finger towards the unsuspecting cloud in the sky and pauses, thinking of a way to coax G-d into saving her.

“You know what – if you like your camels so much, then you better get me out of this place!” Shaking her head, she mumbles, “I’ll just throw rocks at each of their heads. Not like they would care. They’re already dumb… dumb camels.” She looks at a moon shaped scar on the top of her hand, given to her by one of the water-hoarding creatures several years ago.

“Dumb camels,” she repeats.

Silence again is all that responds to Eva once she finishes speaking to herself. She slumps over, shrugs, and decides to head back to her home that sits half-a-mile away from the dunes.

Her feet slip on the sand, causing her to lift her left hand to her face. She huffs as she thinks of her favorite book; reading it gives her solace in her own solitude. Eva sighs, feeling stuck in an ocean made of sand and trapped with her own imaginary desert marlin. She’s already picked out several camels to act as the sharks.

Ironically, one of the camels spits at her as she passes – as if asking, “Where’s your rock – dumb human?”

“Rude,” she mutters in response.

Eva finds her way to a camp studded with only several architectural structures that is surrounded by seven-foot-high wall made of sand. There is only one exit and one entrance, a sky-high rectangular structure made of wood that suffices as a gate. As she skips under it, a sign that reads Cirque du Christianism sways after her.

Officially home, she is welcomed by an array of Circus tents.

Her lazy footsteps saunter past the main tent to her right, soon halting as she approaches a much smaller blue tent. Looking back towards a white tipi, she can feel her body tensing as she holds her breath before leaping forward in front of the blue tent.

I hope he doesn’t attract attention to me.

Twin Time

Today it is my pleasure to welcome authors Olga Werby & Christopher Werby and their Time Travel/Historical Fiction/Urban Fantasy novel, Twin Time.

Authors’ description

The portrait that hangs in Aunt Nana’s house

Alex and Sasha are twin sisters, physically identical down to their freckles. But the resemblance is only skin deep—Sasha is profoundly autistic, while Alex is not. Sasha can’t communicate and acts bizarrely, and the family revolves around her and her intense needs. Yet the aged, wealthy, and mysterious Aunt Nana seems to have a particular interest in both girls. Offering a helping hand, she encourages the family to move to San Francisco to be near her. And when the young twins discover a tunnel in Nana’s tool shed, it leads them on a journey across the world and back 100 years in time. The tunnel is a pathway to the Firebird Estate, the home of their ancestors, located in rural Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Even more remarkable, through the effect that twisting time has on cognition, Sasha is not autistic when she’s at the Firebird Estate. Now, growing up in two strikingly different times and places, the twins must face their separate destinies among the ravages of the incipient Russian Revolution. Can they save their families on both sides of the tunnel? Can they simultaneously stay true to their own hearts, to each other, and to the people they left behind? Each sister must face her own personal challenge—but only together can they discover their own future within their family’s past.

So, which child do you like best?

In my own experience, my favorite of my own books is always the one I’m writing now. Having read and enjoyed Olga Werby’s book Harvest (see my review) I was curious about how she felt about these two books of hers. So, I asked her which one was more fun for her to write: Harvest or Twin Time?

Yes, I know this is a little bit like asking someone which of their children they like best. “Both” is a good answer. But to author Werby’s credit, she had an interesting and well-thought-out response.

“Harvest” and “Twin Time” couldn’t be more different! One is a sci-fi thriller; the other is a fantastical, historical romance. I’ve spent years researching the science for “Harvest”—the scientific details in that story are all true. But the same is true for “Twin Time”. “Twin Time” is partly based on my grandmother’s childhood. She grew up in post-revolutionary Russia, in a rural village where the political change was slow to arrive. When it finally did, her family had to run in the middle of the night to stay alive. They lived through unspeakable horrors and didn’t survive unscathed. Most died. When and where we are born shapes our lives. When you read “Twin Time”, you will get to experience what it was like to live in another time and place with a different value system and different culture.

I came to America as a refugee; I grew up in Russia and those experiences shaped my life. To write about what it feels like to be there, even if at a different time and place than what I knew, was transformative. I loved doing the research, looking at illustrations and old photographs. It made me remember the fairytales of my youth.

Emotionally, “Twin Time” was more powerful for me, while “Harvest” was more intellectually stimulating. Writing these two books was a very different experience. But I wouldn’t swap my life for the life of my heroines in either of these novels—they had it rough. Spending a few years dreaming the lives of these women is very different from living those lives. I have to say, I’m a girl who likes first-class bathroom accommodations!

About Olga Werby

Olga Werby, Ed.D., has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She has a Master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. Olga has a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. She became an accidental science fiction indie writer about a decade ago, with her first book, “Suddenly Paris,” which was based on then fairly novel idea of virtual universes. Her next story, “The FATOFF Conspiracy,” was a horror story about fat, government bureaucracy, and body image. She writes about characters that rarely get represented in science fiction stories — homeless kids, refugees, handicapped, autistic individuals — the social underdogs of our world.

Her stories are based in real science, which is admittedly stretched to the very limit of possible. She has published almost a dozen fiction books to date and has won many awards for her writings. Her short fiction has been featured in several issues of “Alien Dimensions Magazine,” “600 second saga,” “Graveyard Girls,” “Kyanite Press’ Fables and Fairy Tales,” “The Carmen Online Theater Group’s Chronicles of Terror,” with many more stories freely available on her blog, Interfaces.com.

Find the Author at

http://www.interfaces.com/blog/
https://www.amazon.com/author/olgawerby
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4056895.Olga_Werby
https://www.facebook.com/OlgaWerby/
http://Pipsqueak.com
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDE3BNceupMYgvoaoAps2mg
https://www.linkedin.com/in/olgawerby

Buy Her Books at

“Twin Time”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LZM578L/

“Harvest”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R8HGKWN/
“Becoming Animals”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078P6BB6K/
“Suddenly, Paris”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014OM5158/
“The FATOFF Conspiracy”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014S0W4WO/

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Olga Werby & Christopher Werby will be awarding two signed books to a randomly drawn winner (US only) via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Boris Blackburg was observing Alex carefully, judging her emotional state and her ability to comprehend what he was telling her. She seemed very confused. He wasn’t surprised. This was the strangest assignment he had ever accepted. At first, he thought it was some silly notion of a well-to-do old woman. But as the years passed, he got to know Nadezhda well, and he liked the old woman, eccentricities and all. And as he got to know the Orlov family as well–vicariously, of course—the assignment grew more and more strange and intriguing.

Boris was also well compensated for his work. He was going to ensure Nadezhda’s wishes were followed. Alex Orlov would inherit her great-aunt’s estate and all the accompanying strangeness that came with it. He would make certain of it.

“Where did you get these?” Alex asked.

“Nadezhda, your Aunt Nana, gave these to me about eighteen years ago, shortly after you and Sasha were born.”

“I… I…” Alex seemed to want to say something, but couldn’t get it out. Boris was prepared to give her time, as long as her parents didn’t interfere with his mission by arriving too soon. At least the girl was now of age and the complications of guardianship had gone away–but he needed to complete his assignment before her parents arrived and complicated matters.

“Who’s the woman in this photo?” Alex pointed to a small black and white print of a man and a woman walking on the street. The image was very small, and it was difficult to identify the people, both of whom were wearing hats.

“Who do you think it is?” Boris asked. He knew, of course–Nadezhda had identified most of the photos for him, and there was information written on the back of most.

“I don’t know. But… it looks like… me?” Alex’s voice was small, barely audible.

Boris nodded.

The Murderous Macaron

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Ana T. Drew and her cozy mystery novel, The Murderous Macaron.

Author’s description

Julie has her freedom, a dream job as a pastry chef, and a corpse growing cold on her floor…

 

Welcome to Beldoc, a small town in the heart of Provence, imbued with lavender and fresh baked bread! You can idle around, or you can puzzle out a murder mystery.

 

When a man dies on her watch in her pâtisserie, newly divorced chef Julie Cavallo is dismayed. It isn’t that she’s a suspect. The local gendarmerie captain signs off the death as a natural event. A heart attack. But for a reason she won’t discuss, Julie suspects Maurice Sauve was poisoned. What’s a girl to do? She’ll ignore the risk and seek justice for Maurice on her own!

 

Well, not quite on her own. Julie’s eccentric grandmother, her snarky sister and her geeky sous chef are keen to help. The team’s amateurism is a challenge. But there’s also the pesky matter of no evidence, no clues, and soon, no body. The murder—if it was a murder—was planned and executed flawlessly.

 

Can a small-town baker solve the perfect crime?

 

“The Murderous Macaron” is a twisty whodunnit mystery perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich, Alexander McCall Smith, Jana DeLeon, and Lilian Jackson Braun.

My Review

The Murderous Macaron is a fun read, sure to please fans of cozy mysteries and lovers of well-meaning and sometimes bumbling amateur sleuths. (I do happen to be one such fan.) Julie’s bakery is the focal point of this gentle who-done-it, and there is just enough of France woven into the story to appeal to lovers of travel as well.

What I liked best: Simply put, this is an enjoyable book. I appreciate that it was an easy read, well paced and well written. The somewhat complex solutions to the case were believable yet not obvious, providing a satisfying ending.

My favorite thing was Drew’s stellar cast of secondary characters. Grandma is great. I do love feisty old women and she delivers. Sister Flo, the artist, is equally fun, and I could have done with more of the geeky sous chef as well. I’m not a huge dog fan, but I even enjoyed Lady, the sleuth dog who joins the team.

What I liked least: There is a fascinating backstory here, dribbled out in  small pieces and never fully dealt with. It is difficult to reconcile the light tone of the novel with an unexplained traumatic family death, an estranged twin with unusual powers, and Julie’s issues with both of the above. Yet, it all comes up often enough to make it hard to ignore.

The reader wants answers. I suppose the author intends to weave more explanations into future novels, but as regarded these issues, I felt cheated at the end. Plus, the only part receiving a real explanation (why Julie doesn’t like her twin) is just odd.

However, Drew’s story was charming enough for me to put that frustration aside, along with my current irritation with the gluten-free world, brought on by a husband who’s decided to go gluten free for no real reason, forcing me to abandon half of my favorite recipes.  That’s hardly Ana T. Drew’ fault, and I resolved early on not to hold Julie’s gluten-free bakery against her.

So, I’d be happy to read more books in this series and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery novel.

About the Author

Ana T. Drew is the evil mastermind behind the recent series of murders in the fictional French town of Beldoc. When she is not writing cozy mysteries or doing mom-and-wife things, she can be found watching “The Rookie” to help her get over “Castle”. She lives in Paris but her heart is in Provence.

Find the Author at

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/ana-drew
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnaDrewAuthor
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ana-t-drew
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/anadrew
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authoranadrew

Visit the author’s website ana-drew.com for a free cookbook and a game!

 Buy The Murderous Macaron on Amazon.

 Yes, there is a giveaway

Ana T. Drew will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

I sit down across a round table from the gendarme, Capitaine Adinian, and begin my sad tale of yesterday’s macaron-making workshop that didn’t go as planned.

He listens, barely taking any notes.

When I get to the part where I asked my students to mix the ingredients I’d prepared for them, Capitaine Adinian leans forward. “Who prepared and laid out the ingredients?”

“I did.”

“When?”

“Shortly before the class began.”

“Did you leave the shop, even for a brief time, after you had everything ready for the class?” he asks.

“No.”

He scribbles something in his little notebook. “Please continue.”

“Most participants struggled to get their batter to stiffen,” I say. “Some gave up, claiming it was impossible without an electric mixer.”

“Did Maurice Sauve give up?”

“Quite the contrary. He whisked unrelentingly, switching hands but never pausing. He was the first to complete the task.”

Capitaine Adinian writes that down.

“I gave him one of these.” I show Adinian the remaining badges that Flo had made for the workshop.

“Great Baking Potential,” he reads aloud.

“Then I went around with his bowl and had everyone admire the perfect consistency of the batter.”

“Did anything stand out or seem unusual at that point?”

I gaze up at the ceiling, picturing the scene of me praising Maurice Sauve’s firm, satiny batter, students giving him their thumbs-up, and him smiling, visibly stoked. But he isn’t just smiling, he’s also… Panic squeezing my throat, I zero in on his face. He’s panting.

Oh. My. God.

I clap my hand over my mouth. “What if he’d whisked too hard? What if that exertion caused his heart attack?”

“An intense workout, especially at freezing temperatures, can trigger a heart attack,” Adinian says.

“He whisked intensely.”

“Madame Cavallo, I’ve never heard of anyone whisking themselves to an early grave.”

Doorway to Scorn

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Dimitrius Jones and his fantasy novel, Doorway to Scorn.

Author’s description

Many in the world of Austyria dream of becoming heroes, gaining classes like Mage, Knight, and Beastmaster. With the power granted to them by the powerful Alrelics, they can level up and accomplish extraordinary feats.

The citizens of Hollo village long for a hero to save them from the malevolent Gate, which disfigures all who see or try to enter it. Lex dreams of becoming a Soldier and leaving his cursed village with his friends, Bibi and Ariel, but his class designation ceremony devolves into absolute disaster. Within days, he’s forced to embark on a journey that will change his destiny forever.

To save his friends, Lex must uncover the mysteries of this mysterious doorway, while keeping his scornful heart in check before it consumes him utterly.

How Happy is Happy Enough?

So, I’m personally struggling with the question of how happy a happily-ever-after ending has to be to satisfy readers. I suppose my even asking the question makes it clear I think there is some wiggle room, or there ought to be.  After learning more about Doorway to Scorn, I was delighted to get the chance to ask author Dimitrius Jones what he thought. I really liked his response.

As someone who’s read his fair share of romance novels, I get it. We love to ship people and see those ships weather a storyline’s challenges and persevere. We want to be rewarded for instilling hope into our favorite pairing with an ending that is adorably predictable.

We escape into these stories because we’re not sure if true love actually exists sometimes. It’s hard to reconcile a belief in soulmates when we can log onto social media and watch a divorce happen in real time at almost any moment. That’s why it’s so tantalizing to find a romance novel that will soothe our concerns with the promise of a happy ending for the featured couple, even if there’s much ground to cover beforehand.

I’m just not here for it, personally. I feel like it’s overdone.

I won’t go so far as to say I prefer depressing, tragic endings and think they should completely replace happy endings. However, I can appreciate a bittersweet ending where not every character gets the exact resolution we think they should. Real life doesn’t work either way. You don’t always get the ending to a relationship that you deserve, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a beautiful story out of it. It doesn’t mean there isn’t art to be found in a non-happy ending.

I think we could benefit from reading about relationship stories that we can better relate to versus stories where we idealize the couple. Some may say it’s boring, but I think it’s a challenge. As a writer, I’m always seeking new ways to express real life in a fictitious setting. What better way to expand my creative bandwidth than challenging myself to craft a great story without relying on tropes?

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any more happy endings. I just believe we shouldn’t fear realistic ones that don’t always make us feel fuzzy inside. It’s okay. There’s still a story there.

About the Author

Dimitrius Jones was born and raised in West Texas, much to his eternal annoyance. Despite this, he first picked up the pen at the tender age of six. His first masterpiece was a page-turner was about dolphins that used eye lasers to kill a hurricane. From there, his life took a few twists and turns, but he always found his way back to his trusty notepad.

His next few projects include a self-help book for those who suffer from low self-esteem as well as a full-length fantasy/romance novel to be released sometime in the future. Dimitrius has always, perhaps unsurprisingly, been inspired by the mystery, tragedy, and wonder of fairy tales.

His goal in life is to constantly inspire, amuse, and shed light into the corners of life we didn’t know were right in front of us.

Find Dimitrius Jones at:
Website: http://dimitriusjones.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/idimitriusjones?lang=en
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordimitriusjones/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/idimitriusjones/?hl=en

Buy Doorway to Scorn on Amazon. The book will be $0.99 during this tour!

 Yes, there is a giveaway.

Dimitrius Jones will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

“Lex. You need to run.”

Bibi’s voice is low, just above a whisper. She flips her daggers in her hands until they’re pointing away from her body, something I’ve never seen done before. They’re normally used for stabbing – usually in the most treacherous manner possible – and held with the blade facing up, not down.

“I’m not leaving you here to fight that alone.”

“Then you’re a fool. You can’t help me here, and that cursed weapon you have won’t save you. I don’t even know why you’re still holding onto it.”

“I have potions. If you get hurt, I can at least heal you.”

Bibi doesn’t respond, but I can see the muscles in her shoulders and arms tensing as the shadow man regains his composure and goes completely still. She doesn’t sound like herself. It’s as if she’s a completely different person.

The shadow man points his blade high into the sky, and a strange, smoke-like energy begins to wisp around him. Soon, he is joined by two identical shadow men, each taking a battle stance with swords of their own.

“This is not a fight I plan to win,” Bibi says, and that’s when it dawns on me. She’s trying to buy everyone else time to escape from these things.

Blackhorse Road

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Merida Johns and her women’s fiction/romance novel, Blackhorse Road.

Author’s description

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.

 Writing for People Who Relish a Compelling Story

I’ve always struggled with others’ needs for me to define my target audience.

“Uh, people who like to think? Maybe people who are curious?” I told the woman in charge of placing my paperbacks in the local bookstore.

She gave me an eye roll. “I’m going put them in young adult,” she said.

Arrgghhh. So, when Merinda Johns described her book as “more than a romance novel” I was curious. Who did she see as her intended audience? I asked her and I love her response!

Yes,  Blackhorse Road is more than a romance, and there’s an unusual backstory about what propelled me to take an offramp from writing nonfiction, mostly textbooks, to authoring fiction.

After I retired from academia, I started my practice as a leadership coach and focused on helping women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential. During the past ten years, I transitioned from writing textbooks to motivational books on creating environments where people flourish through better leadership.

About three years ago, I was on a conference call with fellow life coaches, and we were discussing concepts of what makes a fulfilling life.  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, storytelling has been the most compelling form of communication for thousands of years. As far as I could recall, none of the great Profits fed up learning objectives and multiple-choice questions to their followers.  No!  They got their message across through stories.

Since I was ten-years-old, I had wanted to write fiction, but my professional career steered me in another direction.   Now, I saw an opportunity to follow the dream I had had as a child and write books that immersed readers in the human experience rather than writing about frameworks and theories.

Blackhorse Road is best characterized as women’s fiction—a story of a woman’s journey toward a fulfilled life. It is a story about how an ordinary woman tackles challenges, lives through sorrow and betrayal, struggles with self-doubt, and acts on her aspirations to achieve flourishing life.

Blackhorse Road blossoms from my imagination that is influenced by 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 Blackhorse Road has more—it is enriched by the backstories that set the context for the characters and events in the story—historical incidents, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and psychology that influence the values of the characters and ultimately the consequences of their actions.  As Connor, one of the characters in Blackhorse Road says, “Time and place shape a person.” It’s the intermingling of these forces that creates a complicated explosion and tension within and among the characters.

Even though Blackhorse Road fits squarely into women’s fiction, it is a story that can appeal to everyone.  This realization came from two “ah-ha” moments that I had.

The first came during a virtual launch party for Blackhorse Road when 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—an insight we had not discussed at the original meeting of the beta readers seven months earlier!

Okay, I said to myself.  Blackhorse Road is for women readers fifteen years and older.

But then a  second ah-ha moment came roaring through like a tornado when I received a text from a fifties-something man.  “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.”

So, in the end, while Blackhorse Road has a lot of romance in it, it is more than a romance novel. Blackhorse Road is for anyone who relishes a compelling story about how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through love gained and loss and sorrow and betrayal, and who struggle with self-doubt, and act on their aspirations to achieve flourishing lives.

About the Author

Merida Johns takes her experience as an educator, consultant, and businesswoman and writes about the human experience. In 2018 Merida took an unlikely off-ramp from writing textbooks and motivational books to authoring women’s fiction. Her stories are learning lessons where awareness and curiosity transport readers to the most unexpected places within themselves.  Merida hails from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, grew up in Southern California and has lived from coast-to-coast in the United States.  Besides writing, she enjoys fabric arts, including weaving and knitting. She makes her home in the serene Midwest countryside that gives her the inspiration and space for storytelling.

Find the Author at:
Her website:  www.MeridaJohnsAuthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeridaJohnsAuthor/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/meridajohns
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Merida-L.-Johns/e/B001IU2KBS
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/MeridaJohns
Buy Blackhorse Road on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

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.”