|Johnnie Bernhard, Featured Writer|
A former English teacher and journalist, Johnnie Bernhard lives with her husband in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Her work has appeared in the following publications: University of Michigan Graduate Studies Publications, Heart of Ann Arbor Magazine, Houston Style Magazine, World Oil Magazine, The Suburban Reporter of Houston, The Mississippi Press, The Ocean Springs Record, University of South Florida Area Health Education Magazine, Parent Guide of Sarasota, Fl. ISD, the international Word Among Us, Gulf Coast Writers Association Anthologies, and the Cowbird-NPR production on small town America. She is the co-editor of several anthologies for the Houston Writers Guild. She currently supports writers world-wide as a literary agent for Loiacono Literary Agency.
Her historic fiction novel, A Good Girl received second place, finalist recognition in the 2015 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, one of America’s leading literary competitions.
Johnnie and her husband, Bryant reside in a 19th Century cottage surrounded by ancient oak trees and a salt water marsh near the Mississippi Sound. They share that delightful space with their dog, Lily, and cat, Poncho. All residents eagerly await weekend and holiday visits from the Bernhard’s adult children and their granddaughter, Frieda, the Belle of Crossmaglen, Ireland.
Book Blurb for A Good Girl
Take a road trip with Gracey Reiter as she says goodbye to her dying father and a crippling family legacy in A Good Girl.
It’s a long line of pain for the chaotic gene pool of the Walsh-Mueller family. When Patricia Walsh leaves the famine of 19th Century Ireland behind, she finds a home with Emil Mueller in a German settlement on the Texas Gulf Coast. Their happiness quickly dissolves into a harsh reality as wars, hurricanes, infidelity, and alcoholism find them and the five generations carrying their name.
Gracey crosses that line of pain with ghosts from the past and a slippery grip on the future. Her husband doesn’t understand why she can’t let it go; her siblings aren’t talking, and her daughter is hell-bent on leaving the country.
An all-encompassing novel that penetrates the core being of all who read it, A Good Girl pulls back the skin to reveal the raw actualities of life, love and relationships, told with candor and honesty.
A Good Girl is the ageless story of burying parents and raising children for multiple generations. It’s a road we all travel.
Excerpt from Chapter Six, Trading Fate
William Stokes, the owner of the land and the people starving on it, was more than willing to remove the carriers of pestilence from his family’s land. Two exit routes secured the family name and land for generations to come—bury the dead and launch the half dead to America. It cost him nine tickets on a freight ship leaving Dublin for New York. To ensure the clan would never return to Galway, William Stokes invented a cousin in America, who eagerly awaited the family for employment and housing on his cotton plantation near Charleston, South Carolina. For 600 shillings and a lie, Colum Walsh was removed from Ireland forever; the bones of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather cried out from their shallow graves on the Stokes Estate.
The family of nine walked to Dublin, eating molded bread and stolen eggs. What they found waiting for them on Dublin’s Docklands only Satan could conjure. The begging children, the school girl prostitutes, the aged and dying, the staggering drunks—together, a slow moving mass of ragged people clamoring, clawing, and scratching their way to the freight ships like a massive grey shroud from hell.
What Colum Walsh, his wife and seven children received for the portal to the land of milk and honey, was third class accommodations on a coffin ship sailing under the Union Jack. Colum, his daughter Bridget, and his five-year-old son, Michael, were dead within the first ten days. Typhus, carried by the lice-infected straw used for bedding by the third-class passengers, took their last breath. In the delirium of his raging fever, Colum begged to go home.
“My Mam. Mam is calling me. She’s calling me home. I can swim to her, Aileen, if you help me, I can swim home to Ireland.”
Their burial at sea was held in the faint morning light with the receiving Atlantic rowing beneath them. A third mate positioned the three corpses, wrapped in canvass with weights attached to their feet. The plank was raised. A sound. Bubbles. The black ocean swallowed them whole. Aileen and her five children returned to the bowels of the ship, cold, wet, and hungry.
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