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The Surprising Secondary Characters in Blackhorse Road—Time

Old Letters and Diaries

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 is 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 eras.  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 lost all hope.

 

Readers tell me that they connect with the different time periods represented in the story in Blackhorse Road. Just as they 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 even a sliver of time, such as the street dance scene.

 

Readers might ask, "How do you turn an era into a secondary character?"  I connect people to eras by 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 becomes easy 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 also feel a bond with the time eras in which the people in the story lived as well.

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First Book Club Virtual Discussion

Praise for Blackhorse Road
Praise for Blackhorse Road

The first virtual book club discussion for Blackhorse Road is happening tonight!  So excited to hear the insights and answer the questions from the twelve members who hail from Maryland.  

 

 

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The Vision for Blackhorse Road

As soon as I saw this article, I had to share with the readers of Blackhorse Road. "A novel changed the life of Francesca Lo Basso—and there's scientific evidence that she's not alone."

 

This is exactly what I hoped for Blackhorse Road.  Read the article from The Greater Good Magazine--Science-based Insights for a Meaningful Life

 

How Reading Fiction Can Shape Our Real Lives

 

 

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More Praise for Blackhorse Road

Thrilled with the new review of Blackhorse Road from Our Town Book Reviews: 

 

"A really nice read. What a picture of life in the 60's. This book deals with so many items, emotions really. From the moment I began to read about the true hardships, the real picture drawn by the people trying to immigrate I wanted to keep reading to see what happened. I wanted to see where this was going to lead. At first I thought the letters would create a back and forth kind of reading confusion. That didn't happen here. Everything centered around Luci in one way or another and the author seemed to be able to weave this story without any confusion, Even no hiccups to my reading which I thought surely would happen. This is an interesting book, suitable for all ages. "

 

https://www.ourtownbookreviews.com/2020/08/black-horse-road.html

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10 Quotes to Live By

10 Quotes To Live By are highlighted today on the book tour for my novel Blackhorse Road! Thank you to Joanne for giving me the opportunity to share these from the characters in the book to use as fuel to power up your week https://joanneguidoccio.com/2020/08/17/10-quotes-to-live-by/#comment-95839

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Over the Moon

Blackhorse Road just got its first Amazon review--5 stars!  Check it out on Amazon.

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What are Readers Saying About Blackhorse?

Blackhorse Road A Novel about Choice

Since its release two weeks ago, I've been receiving emails and texts about readers' reactions to Blackhorse Road.  A theme that seems to be running through the messages is that this is a compelling story that has something in it for everyone.  The characters, events, location, and plot affect readers differently—but there is no doubt that each has come away being transported to an unexpected place within themselves.

 

Here is a place for readers to post their comments and reactions and to share their Blackhorse Road journey with other Blackhorse Road travelers. 

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The Development of Luci in Blackhorse Road

At the virtual launch party for Blackhorse Road held on July 21, one of the beta readers elaborated on the maturity and perceptiveness of eighteen-year-old Luci, the story's protagonist.  We didn't have the time during the launch to discuss what informed me about Luci's character, so I'd like to share the insights that led me to develop a character who had this type of awareness at such a young age.

 

A few years ago, my husband and I were visiting with friends who had two teenaged children—a daughter, eighteen-years-old, and a son, sixteen-years-old.  The six of us chatted before, during, and after dinner, engaging in conversation about politics, world events, and everyday issues.  The teenagers were not ancillary to the conversation but were part of it.  I put on my "coaching" hat and listened carefully to what these young people had to say and engaged them, from time to time, with powerful questions—What are you concerned about? What's most important to you? If you had the choice, what would you do? What is your assessment of this situation? How would you handle that problem?

 

When we left for the evening, I turned to my husband and said, "I'm so relieved because those two young people are our future—I'm so impressed with their level of insight, judgment, and perspective."

 

In our busy, distracted world, I don't know that older adults or parents have given themselves the gift of space to listen to, be curious about, or seek out the wisdom of their young adult children or their children's friends. Remembering the remarkable experience I had with the teenagers of our friends, I wanted Blackhorse Road to reveal to my readers the possibilities of this dimension.

 

The following quote is taken from Chapter Five in Blackhorse Road and gives an insight into how Luci's maturity was developed through the relationship with her father, Sam.

 

"Sam knew the best way to get Luci to reveal her thoughts was to pose a question requiring an opinion. He recognized Luci's growing emotional maturity and was proud of his daughter's self-confidence and her commitment to a more tolerant world. He also welcomed her ideas and encouraged her to debate with him, believing it honed her judgment and decision-making. Often, Sam would ask Luci her thoughts about a political matter or seek her advice in sizing up a business problem. Allowing her to express herself in a secure environment, Sam believed, helped his daughter build self-esteem."

 

Added to Sam's practice of listening, observing, and asking questions, his insight about how people react when given a choice contributed to Luci's maturity.  Here's a quote from the book where Sam shares his thoughts about autonomy with Luci.

 

"Given the relevant facts and the chance to think things through, most people are smart, creative, and resourceful enough to make the right decisions."

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Secrets Behind Publication of Novel Blackhorse Road Revealed at Pre-launch Parties

Was I ever excited about the pre-launch virtual parties for Blackhorse Road.  They sure lifted the web of mystery about the development of the novel!

 

I know that most readers of fiction aren't privy to the publication process—but they have a hunger for getting answers to questions about the story behind the story. And that's why I designed the pre-launch—to give readers at a peek at who the people are who made Blackhorse Road possible and to satisfy readers' curiosity by of things that are not usually disclosed about production.

 

Featured guests at the parties—Megan Shultz Grennan developmental editor, Kim Bookless, copyeditor, Pat Hertel, proofreader and copyeditor, and beta readers Marian, Sue, Carol, and Laurel—didn't hold back punches as they assisted me in unveiling the mystery of how a manuscript goes from the first draft to finished product.

 

The beta readers shared their insights into the story characters and their visceral responses that they had to portions of the novel.  Each of them fielded questions and told the audience how they came away with different lessons, thoughts, and yes, there were questions about some unresolved issues among the characters.  Perhaps there's a sequel in work?  

 

The audiences were not shy about asking questions either!

 

·        Why did you write the book?

·        What was the hardest part to cut out of the story?

·        How much research went into the story?

·        How much of the story comes from your own family, including ancestors?

·        Does the story touch on sensitive issues?

 

I have to say that the audience response has been overwhelming, and here is a sampling of comments:

·        "I haven't had any interactions with developmental editors before . . . so it was great to hear about Megan's role and see your manuscript examples. That was excellent," said one attendee.

·        "It was great to hear from your team and about the whole book process. Kudos to you for picking up the ball and scoring several touchdowns," said another.

 

My heart overflows with having such a great group of cheerleader.s 

 

The official virtual launch party for Blackhorse Road is scheduled for July 21, 2020, at 7:00 PM CT.  So, join the fun and registration visit www.MeridaJohnsAuthor.com.

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Authors Write About What They Know

Fort Malden, Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada
Fort Malden - Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada 
Creative Commons Photo by John Stanton
Retrieved: http://www.fortwiki.com/File:Fort_Malden_-_15.jpg

It is said that authors write about what they know—I guess that might be true. In my novel, Blackhorse Road, I've included a place that resonates with history, memories, and spirits, and some of my own memories, too!. After reading the excerpt below from Blackhorse Road, click on the link and view the pictures to see why Luci loves Fort Malden so—I promise, you will feel its energy and vibration, and maybe even feel the spirits of long ago.


"Nevertheless, the manicuring and modernization could not destroy the resilience of the old fort's spirit. The fortification's life force emanated as strong as ever and rose from the earth and battlements like a quivering earthquake. The power of General Brock and Tecumseh, the soldiers, the French settlers, and the First Peoples, still cried out demanding acknowledgment. They will not be denied, Luci comforted herself. Time marches on and changes things, but it cannot eradicate the imprint of energy stamped on a place. Energy does not die. Its vibration, perhaps redistributed, continues. Memories are similar. They do not die; they are the waves that flow throughout a lifetime."

 

For more photos see the link here https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g793524-d1861821-Reviews-Fort_Malden_National_Historic_Site-Amherstburg_Ontario.html

 

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