My Books!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Blackhorse Road

 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.






The cranky engine revved as the driver shifted gears, and the military bus crawled forward exiting the air force base. Along a narrow and dark roadway, the vehicle increased its speed and left the MPs at the gate standing immobile and mute in the glow of the rising moon. Drifting through the open windows, the Southern California desert air blew like pixie dust across the faces of the thirty young women headed home from the street dance. A few hours ago, they were preening and adjusting their bouffant hairdos, reapplying creamy pink lipstick, and placing the last twirls of mascara on their eyelashes to prepare for a street dance with cadets from the elite Air Force Academy. Then, the atmosphere buzzed with gossip, chatter, laughter, and anticipation. Now, the glimmering night sky created the perfect backdrop that lulled each into a contented silence to fantasize about the handsome men they had met.


“This is the beginning of my story about love and betrayal and a journey toward empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. It is also a story of choice—my choice to be inspired by the resilience of a great-grandmother, the values of a father, and the wisdom of a spouse. But in the end, it is a story of how a letter of gratitude . . . reminded me to open my heart to love and kindness.”

A Word With the Author:

1. Did you always want to be an author?


My first recollection of writing fiction was when I was about ten years old.  What inspired that effort was a picture that hung in the dining room of my parents’ home. It was a moon-lit lake scene that screamed out that mystery lurked among the shadows cast from the trees on the shoreline.  At the time, like most young girls in the 1950s, I was into Nancy Drew books.  So, my first attempt at fiction involved some type of scary adventure along the shores of a secluded lake. Although I had minor attempts at writing short stories in high school, my fiction writing career was interrupted by authoring nonfiction works related to my career in health information systems and leadership. 


About three years ago, I got back on the fiction writing track during a conference call in late 2017 with a group of fellow life coaches. As we were talking about what makes a flourishing life, I blurted out, “What would it be like to help women and men achieve a flourishing life through storytelling instead of another self-help book?”


After that phone call, I got started answering that question. Almost three years later, the result is my debut novel Blackhorse Road, a compelling story of womanhood and the power of choice, gratitude, and forgiveness.


2. Tell us about the publication of your first book.


My first nonfiction work was published in 1997—I can hardly believe that it was twenty-three years ago!  While I enjoyed nonfiction work, my true love is writing fiction.  


When I started writing fiction, I took two pieces of advice before pounding the keyboard—write about what you know and know what you write.  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 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.  My experience in writing nonfiction has helped me uncover these backstories from usual fact-checking and readily available historical references.  But the sources I like best to enhance the pallet of my novel are diaries and old letters that are first-hand accounts about relationships and peoples’ challenges, and their feelings of sorrow, love, hope, sadness, and happiness. 


I wrote Blackhorse Road because I wanted to show how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through sorrow and betrayal, struggle with self-doubt and act on their aspirations to achieve flourishing lives. My hope is that my fiction raises readers’ awareness and curiosity and transports them to unexpected places within themselves. 

3. Besides yourself, who is your favorite author in the genre you write in?


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 about Nonhelema, a Shawnee Woman Chief, and Follow the River, an account based on the courage and grit of the pioneer woman, Mary Ingles.  


And, of course, 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. 

4. What’s the best part of being an author? The worst?


I believe that I am an introvert at heart, so writing sixteen hours a day in my office overlooking the Midwest prairie land is paradise. Uniting my strength of curiosity with my creativity allows me to explore, discover, and to imagine and be open to new things in my writing. In the end, this gives my life meaning by accomplishing a worthwhile task of writing stories that raise readers’ curiosity and transport them to unexpected places within themselves.


Although I would not categorize this as the “worst” part of being an author, the transition from writing nonfiction to fiction was a challenging learning curve.  Writing textbooks, I was used to telling, not showing. In switching to nonfiction, I had to go about learning how to step away from a fact-based narrative and to free my imagination to reveal the virtues and foibles of characters and engage readers’ emotions and raise their curiosity.           



5. What are you working on now?


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:


Short Bio:

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.


Long Bio:

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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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Saturday Sample and Weekend Writing Warriors

Welcome to Saturday Sample and Weekend Writing Warriors. Today we'll continue to share excerpts from Never Trust a Pretty Wolf. On Sunday when you finish here, do go to for more excerpts from a bunch of great authors.

Liesel Wolf has a secret, a dangerous secret she’ll go to any lengths to conceal. When she’s paired in a charity game with sexy marshal Andy Bryce, a man with secrets of his own, her carefully constructed world comes crashing down, and Liesel’s on a collision course with her past.

Chapter One

Last Week

“Liesel, what does the GPS say?”

Andy’s voice jerked Liesel out of her reverie. “Uh, we have to climb a little higher.”

When she and Andy had left the pool behind, the trail turned sharply upward. In spots the path almost petered out. When rocks or trees blocked the way, they had to step off the trail and try to make their way around the obstruction. Tree branches slapped Liesel’s face as she stumbled over forest debris. Gnats buzzed around her head, making the climb even harder. Worse yet, mosquitoes were feasting on her ankles.

This week: I'm picking up where we left off last week.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Love & Cherry Blossoms

Title: Love & Cherry Blossoms
Author: Amara Kent
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 26, 2020
Cover Design: Lucy Smoke from Smoking Hot Covers
Don’t ever fall in love. No good can come of it.
Rule Number One: NEVER sleep with the same man more than once.
I’m prone to falling for men, hard and too quickly, which has only ever ended badly for me.
It’s why I gave myself the rule with a strict no-returns policy.
I’ve never had any issues abiding to it, until he comes barging into my life.
He’s tall, sexy and oh so arrogant.
It was only ever supposed to happen once. One sexy experience on the plane, and then we go our separate ways.
He proposes one more night to truly show what it’s like to be with him.
He’s about to make me break my number one rule, and I’m not sure I’ll survive.
Rule Number One: NEVER give a woman your heart again.
Relationships… they’re more trouble than they’re worth.
I’m content living my life in the single lane.
That is, until she wanders into my life.
She’s unlike any woman I’ve ever met. Feisty, argumentative and happy to put me in my place.
We had one amazing experience on the plane, but it wasn’t not enough. I need more.
She’s making me want things I shouldn’t, and I’m not sure if I’ll survive it.
Warning: This book is intended for mature readers only. It contains some triggers, explicit language and graphic sexual scenes that are only suitable for those 18+
JoJo feat. Tory Lanez & 30 Roc – Comeback 
Marian Hill – Got It
Two Feet – Go Fuck Yourself
Natalia Kills – Rabbit Hole Samantha Jade – In the Morning 
Fugees – Killing Me Softly With His Song Taemin - Thirsty
Beyonce – Partition
Ciara feat. Justin Timberlake – Love Sex Magic 
Natalia Kills – Not In Love
Amara Kent hails all the way from Australia. 
She has been an avid reader ever since she was a little girl. From this, came a very wild and often weird and twisted imagination. She's always spinning stories of fantasy and steamy romance in her head.
When she's not trying to keep up with a million-and-one stories that comes to her, you can usually find her binge watching The Simpsons or Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Mimi Takes Paris


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Elizabeth Cooke will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

It is the start of the adventures of a small black poodle, escapee from a cruel puppy mill, who is rescued by Nicole Marcel, a pretty girl singer in the City of Paris. The two become inseparable.

The little dog has an animal intelligence and a tremendous sense of smell, and proceeds to solve a murder, and other crimes by nasal prowess. Mimi gains celebrity status, as does her PERSON, Nicole.

It is a Cozy Mystery like no other!

In book two, titled “Mimi’s Paris Dilemma,” Mimi’s reputation, (and that of Nicole’s), is sullied by an unfair assessment by the public. The little dog slowly regains status by solving other crimes.

Read an Excerpt

Mimi was fortunate enough to live in Paris, and she knew it. She, and her ‘person’ resided in a petite hotel on the Left Bank. That ‘person’ was young and pretty and would leash Mimi for walks.

In winter, Mimi wore a pink wool coat with a tiny, white handkerchief peeking out from a pocket on the back. It was so handsome against her jet -black toy-poodle hair. Of course, in warm weather, she only sported the leash.

How proud was Mimi to parade along the rues and boulevards. All of 12 inches long and perhaps 10 inches high, she walked with such elan, that people noticed her. She liked that. But most of all, Mimi reveled in the fact that she had been lucky enough to be endowed with a moist, black muzzle with two intense nostrils that provided her with a world of sensuality.

The scent of companion dogs with messages left behind, greeted her at every corner. The odor of soupe a l’oignon or boeuf, simmering in wine, emerged from the bistros as the two passed by, one two legged, the other on four. Oh, and to pass a fromagerie, was a special delight. The smell of the pungent cheeses from across the country within the little store could not be contained, and all of France was laid before Mimi’s hungry little nose.

Occasionally, Mimi was lucky enough to find a morsel of crepe au sucre on the rue Cler, inadvertently dropped by a hungry tourist who had been munching while he walked. Ah, life was good. What a lucky dog am I, was her constant thought.

Mimi knew she was smart, and she knew her sense of smell was extraordinary, even for a dog. She could define with her nose every herbal addition to a stew of veal with sage, or rosemary in a gigot d’agneau. Oh, the herbal names meant nothing, but the specific tingle in her nostrils made everything so clear, distinct and utterly delicious.

But not this time. This was a dark odor. It was the smell of blood.

About the Author: The daughter of the Dean of Medicine at Columbia University, Elizabeth Cooke was raised in Manhattan, graduating from The Brearley School, and Vassar College, with a major in Drama, and minor in Art. As a young woman, she worked in theater and as a casting consultant, briefly served on the board of MoMA, before moving to Paris for three years, after her marriage ended. There, she immersed herself in the museums, studied at the Sorbonne, cooked at The Cordon Bleu, and traveled all over Europe. Until recently, Elizabeth Cooke resided on the East End of Long Island. For 10 years, she was the Chairman of The Bide-A-Wee Home, a prestigious animal shelter complex in New York City and Long Island. She also served on the Executive Committee of the Westhampton Free Library for 30 years.

ParisIn “Eye of the Beholder,” completed after the memoir, Elizabeth Cooke writes in rather irreverent terms, of the lives of six artists and the most compelling muse in each of their lives: next came, “A Shadow Romance,” an odyssey of an unfulfilled love affair between a mature New York City couple: then, the four “Hotel” books. She has just completed “How To Game People Without Even Trying,” the true story (fictionalized) of the murder of her second husband in his Paris apartment. A fifth ‘hotel’ book, titled “Rendezvous at a Small Hotel” has just been released. The sixth hotel book, “Intrigue at a Small Hotel” has received top honors from The Paris Book Festival for 2016. The seventh and final in the hotel series, “The Hotel Marcel Dining Club” is currently available.

For her, there is great joy in having the gift of expression that writing provides, and this is reflected in her rather prolific output.

Barnes and Noble:

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Among the Pages

Among the Pages

by Sara R. Turnquist 




GENRE: Historical Romance (sweet)






A woman’s choice…is in question.


Brianne is a somewhat naïve college freshman. She becomes disillusioned as her professors and peers challenge many of her long-held beliefs. When she finds a diary that belonged to a distant relative, she hopes it will offer much needed distraction. And she is soon drawn into the story of a passionate woman who seems to whisper from the past.


In 1915’s New York, idealist and primary teacher Margaret struggles with the problems women face at home and in society. She is first timid about speaking her mind, but in time cannot keep her impassioned spirit hidden—not even from the gentleman who teaches in the classroom next door. His concern for her stretches the limits of their friendship, pressing into something more. Caught up in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, she faces down authority figures and others who question her beliefs.


And so, Brianne is whisked along on this journey as Margaret joins the fight for women’s rights, all the while trying to work through her own questions and experiences with modern feminism.


Before long, things spin out of control and she wonders where her newfound relationship fits into everything? Are there any clear answers? Will she land on her feet? Or be forever lost to herself?






HISTORICAL TIME PERIOD – Margaret attends a speech/rally


“And they say we cannot gather and not speak of the vote. What exactly shall be their reasoning for not permitting us the vote? The lack of education from whence they first deprived us? This, and their own insistence that we are not knowledgeable about the workings of the government, politics, and society? And why should we not be? Because we are consigned to the home.”


The crowd murmured in agreement as the speaker continued driving her points.


Margaret nodded along, lost in the speech.


Voices in the crowd grew more aggressive. And progressively louder.


Margaret glanced around, her gaze shifting from one side to the other.


People around pressed in toward the speaker.


Margaret’s heart squeezed. This could not be good. It would not end well. She scanned the faces nearby. So many. All caught up in emotions provoked by the speaker’s words.


What would happen? This could not escape the notice of others. Of those who would oppose…


She swallowed. Hard. Her breaths came rapidly as she thought about the gathering being moved upon.


Jerking her head from side to side, she spotted an opening in the bodies around her. She slipped through and moved farther away from the group. 


And once she deemed herself at a safe distance, she took notice of the onlookers. Their disapproving glares stabbed at her.


Dare she defend the women? The speaker?


Her hands shook. And her heart raced.


She just…couldn’t. So she shrunk back across the street and watched from an even greater distance.


Moments later, hoof beats clomped on the pavement.


Her breath caught in her throat.


Police swept down upon the gathering. Had they come to break up the meeting or intimidate?


She didn't stay to find out. Shrinking farther into the approaching darkness, she slipped into anonymity.


Author Interview:

What are your favorite TV shows?

I loved “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and I enjoy “When Calls the Heart.” I also enjoy comedies such as “Big Bang Theory” and really liked “Friends.” I do like some good action, loved “24” and I like “NCIS.” I (obviously) don’t have much time for TV shows these days. Especially since I have little ears around…If Mickey Mouse or HGTV (safe for the little ears and eyes) doesn’t do it, it doesn’t much happen on the TV around here.

What is your favorite meal?

Fettuccini Alfredo. No contest.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

I am writing it. It is about the Hussite Wars in the Bohemian (Czech) lands during the Medieval Period.

Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?

I really admire Tamara Leigh’s books and the career she has charted for herself. I like the way she manages her books and her readers.

How did you come up for the title of this book?

The book’s original title was “The Diary.” I began to think…that’s a little “on the nose”…you know? A bit obvious. But the connection between the characters happens with this diary. And the connection we have to the past as well. It all happens “Among the Pages” of the diary. 



AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Sara is a coffee lovin', word slinging, Historical Romance author whose super power is converting caffeine into novels. She loves those odd little tidbits of history that are stranger than fiction. That's what inspires her. Well, that and a good love story. 


But of all the love stories she knows, hers is her favorite. She lives happily with her own Prince Charming and their gaggle of minions. Three to be exact. They sure know how to distract a writer! But, alas, the stories must be written, even if it must happen in the wee hours of the morning.


Sara is an avid reader and enjoys reading and writing clean Historical Romance when she’s not traveling. Her books range from the Czech lands to the American wild west and from ancient Egypt to the early 1900s. Some of her titles include The Lady Bornekova, Hope in Cripple Creek, The General’s Wife, Trail of Fears, and the Convenient Risk Series.


Happy Reading!





Twitter:  @sarat1701



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Instagram:       @sarat0103




Pinterest:         @saravturnquist




YouTube:        Sara Turnquist




Buy Link:





One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.



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