Wednesday, May 01, 2013

WHERE TREASURE HIDES - Johnnie Donley - One Free Ebook

(Note to new people reading the blog: If you don't follow all the instructions at the bottom of the page, you won't be included in the drawing for the free book.)

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I wish I had been blessed with Alison’s artistic talent! Her fingers itch for a brush the way mine itch for a pen. I’m just more comfortable holding one in my hand even if I don’t have anything to write. Other than that, I don’t consciously base my characters on myself or anyone I know. They grow into themselves through freewriting and in the initial draft.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I asked my daughter, and she said that I fill my glass with so much ice that “you can only put a teaspoon of soda in it.” And a straw. I kind of have an obsession with straws.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve been making up stories as long as I can remember, telling them to myself as I fell asleep at night. In the third grade, I made up an amazing game with my friends where we were kittens who could turn into lions and tigers with our magic watches. But it’s only been in the last six years or so that I’ve been able to devote time to a writing career.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love Anne Perry’s World War I series, Tolkien’s Middle Earth sagas, C.S. Lewis’ nonfiction works (though not his space trilogy), Daniel Silva’s thrillers, and practically anything about World War II. Other favorites include Kate Morton, Susan Frasier King, Jane Kirkpatrick, Davis Bunn, and Jack Cavanaugh.

My most recent reads are Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer and Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman. Both were fun and entertaining stories by talented authors. I’m currently re-reading Les Miserables and The Hobbit.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I choose not to run, run, run by limiting my obligations to only a few major activities. I facilitate a women’s Bible study, serve as President of the American Christian Fiction Writers Central Florida Chapter, and volunteer as a guardian ad litem for my county. I also have other ACFW responsibilities, such as a First Impressions first round judge and Genesis Historical Fiction Coordinator.

Almost every day, I have quiet time in my comfy chair. My papillon Rugby lies across the top of the chair so he can see out the bay window. I pray, read Scripture, and write in my journal.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed – who isn’t? But these are specific choices I make to lessen stress and give me the time I need to write.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
This is an interesting question. Somehow the main characters seem to choose themselves, though I have looked up common German names, for example, for those characters and kind of try different ones on for size. Eventually something fits just right. I’ve also used a database that lists the most popular names by decade. This is a great resource for historical novelists.

For minor characters, sometimes I just look around at the books on my shelves or check the credits of some TV show for inspiration.

A World War II double agent, the protagonist in an earlier manuscript, was code-named after my sister’s cat which inspired the names of an entire secret mission.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Giving my now adult children happy childhood memories.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
When I was two, I wanted to be a dog when I grew up. But now I’d like to be a powerful bird, like a falcon or hawk, so I can fly above the world and see its magnificent variety.

What is your favorite food?
I love pizza and a really good steak. But not at the same time.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I’m always afraid of the blank page so it helps me to write my first draft during NaNoWriMo. Where Treasure Hides began as a NaNoNovel in 2009. The published story bears little resemblance to that messy draft, but it gave me something to work with. I also found it helpful to being a blank book with the words, “My name is Alison Schuyler ...” I kept on writing and discovered several things about Alison that helped with both character and plot development.

This year, I spent November writing my next project. Again, I don’t expect the polished version to look much like the original. The main characters need more depth, and my dramatic climax didn’t work. But the messy draft gives me potential.

Tell us about the featured book.
Alison Schuyler inherited her family’s artistic talent and a strong belief that true love leads to tragedy. On the eve of World War II, a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings bold and compassionate British officer Ian Devlin into her life. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. As time, war, and a spurned Nazi officer struggle to keep them apart, Alison fears she and Ian will be separated forever. She needs to find the faith to fight for their love and to trust God with her future.

Please give us the first page of the book.
First Page (Lena, this is actually the first two pages. The first page is only the first two paragraphs, but adding the second page gives a more complete vignette. Of course, feel free to use as little as you wish.)

August 1939

The stringed notes of “Rule, Britannia!” grew louder as the crowd quieted, eyes and ears straining in their search for the violin soloist. The patriotic anthem echoed through Waterloo Station’s concourse, and as the second chorus began, sporadic voices sang the lyrics. Travel- weary Brits stood a little straighter, chins lifted, as the violinist completed the impromptu performance, the last note sounding long after the strings were silenced.

Alison Schuyler gripped her leather bag and threaded her way through the crowd toward the source of the music. As the final note faded inside the hushed terminal, she squeezed between a sailor and his girl, murmuring an apology at forc­ing them to part, and stepped onto a bench to see over the crowd. A dark-haired boy, no more than seven or eight, held the violin close to his anemic frame. His jacket, made of a finely woven cloth, hung loosely on his thin shoulders. The matching trousers would have slipped down his hips if not for his hand-tooled leather belt.

Either the boy had lost weight or his parents had purposely provided him clothes to grow into. Alison hoped for the latter, though from the rumors she’d heard, her first assumption was all too likely. She stared at the cardboard square, secured by a thick length of twine that the boy wore as a cheap necklace. The penciled writing on the square numbered the boy as 127.

Other children crowded near the young musician, each one dressed in their fine traveling clothes, each one labeled with cardboard and twine. Germany’s castaways, transported to England for their own safety while their desperate parents paced the floors at home and vainly wished for an end to these troublesome days.

“Now will you allow him to keep his violin?” A man’s voice, pleasant but firm, broke the spell cast over the station. The children fidgeted and a low murmur rumbled through the crowd. The speaker, dressed in the khaki uniform of a British Army officer, ignored them, his gaze intent on the railroad official overseeing the children.

“He better,” said a woman standing near Alison. “Never heard anything so lovely. And the lad not even one of the king’s subjects. I’d take him home myself—yes, I would—if I’d a bed to spare.”

Alison mentally sketched the tableau before her, pinning the details into her memory. The officer’s hand resting on the boy’s shoulder; the official, a whistle around his neck, restlessly tapping his clipboard with his pencil; the dread and hope in the boy’s eyes as he clutched his prized instrument. The jagged square that tagged his identity.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My Treasured Moments blog is at

Thank you, Johnnie, for sharing your book with us today.

Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Where Treasure Hides

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Johnnie Alexander said...

Lena, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. Writing Where Treasure Hides was such a joy, and I'm still fascinated with World War II. God bless!

Heidi Reads... said...

This book sounds intense! The historical elements sound fascinating. Can't wait to read it!
Heidi, CA

Abbi Hart said...

I'm a huge WWII fan-except that sounds kinda wrong so rather I'm a huge fan of the WWII time period! I love reading books set during that time and this one sounds really good! Thanks so much for the chance to win!
Abbi (PA)

Johnnie Alexander said...

Heidi, this book was so much fun to research. Though also very sad. The cruelties and tragedies are unbelievable -- except we know they happened. I've been skimming through a book I've read before called Hitler's Soldiers in the Sunshine State for a short story I'm writing. One German POW wanted to tame an alligator :)

Johnnie Alexander said...

Abbi, that was cute. I need to be more careful about how I say that, too! I became interested in the massive looting after seeing a documentary called The Rape of Europa. Later, I read a book by the same name. It's amazing how much was stolen and how much has never been recovered.

Patricia Bradley said...

Love this book! The characters are so real and Johnnie's writing is awesome!

Melissa M. said...

That is a wonderful beginning, and I almost always like WWII-era novels! (I just hope there's not TOO much romance--something I've been trying to avoid due to my heart getting too mixed up in such things and not being realistic or right when it comes to my thinking about young men.)

-Melissa M. from TX

Mary Preston said...

Truly a fascinating time period. I look forward to reading WHERE TREASURES HIDE.

Mary P


karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

karenk...from PA
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Patsy said...

Sounds great! Would love to read it!

from South Mississippi


apple blossom said...

thanks for chance to win
live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

sm said...

Historical Fiction about
WW II sounds very interesting. sharon, CA

Johnnie Alexander said...

Pat, thanks so much for coming by and your support. (I'm crazy about my critique partners!)

Johnnie Alexander said...

Melissa M -- this story wasn't written as a conventional romance though Ian and Alison obviously are deeply in love with each other. I think you'll find Ian to be a man's man, honorable and strong. After all, he's a soldier :)

Johnnie Alexander said...

Mary P, I so agree with you. There is so much to that time period -- so many things happening on both a grand scale and at very personal levels. The history just draws me in and doesn't want to let me go.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Karen, thanks so much for stopping by and participating in the contest. I'm glad you enjoyed the opening.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Patsy. I'd love for you to read it! Thanks for stopping by!

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Apple Blossom. How's the weather up there in North Dakota? We're having a very rainy day here in Central Florida. Thanks so much for participating in the giveaway.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Sharon, this was such a fascinating book to research and to write. I mentioned a couple of resources in an earlier comment. Another favorite was a documentary about the hidden children in Holland. So many families took in the Jewish children and hid them from the Nazis. That is why my heroine's heritage is Dutch.

Marissa said...

Where Treasure Hides looks very interesting!! I love WWII novels!

Marissa from CO

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Marissa. Thanks for stopping by. I love WWII novels, too! LOL!

Katie said...

Sounds splendid! Please enter me. I'm from NC.

Unknown said...

I would love to read this.

Deborah Dun, FL

Cindy W. said...

Where Treasure Hides sounds like a wonderful read. I also love the cover. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

I live in Indiana.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Katie. Thanks for coming by and participating.(My mom and I like road trips, and NC is one of our favorite states to travel through.)

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Deb. My part of Florida sure is being pummeled with rain the past few days but the sun is out this morning. Thanks for stopping by and participating.

Unknown said...

So you made up stories to fall asleep, huh, Johnnie? Me too!

I had this routine: get in bed, get comfy, and start the story from the very beginning.

Every night!

The problem was I never got past the first few "scenes" in my head before I fell asleep.

But it sure was a fun way to fall asleep.

Emma said...

WHERE TREASURE HIDES sounds wonderful. Please enter me in contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win.PA.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Pam, you'll get a kick out of this -- I mostly made up westerns! (big fan of The Rifleman, Big Valley, Bonanza, Guns of Will Sonnet.) I'm so glad you dropped in. (Pam is the author of an amazing story, Claiming Mariah. Our novels were released the same time by Tyndale.)

Johnnie Alexander said...

Emma, thanks so much. I loved writing the story, and I pray those who read it are blessed by it. Things happened in it I didn't expect so I hope those things surprise readers, too!

Shopgirl said...

I've been wanting to read this one! I'm in MN.

Melissa M. said...

Thank you for giving me a reply about the romance, Mrs. Donley. :)

I think I would like your book, if not the romance, at least the setting! I have Dutch ancestry, too. :) The Hiding Place is one of my favorite books.

And I like The Rifleman, Big Valley, and Bonanza, too! I've never heard of Guns of Will Sonnet (I may check it out). I even used to write fan fiction/poetry for Bonanza.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Cindy, I'm not sure what happened -- perhaps the blogger elves were up to some mischief. I replied to your comment yesterday, thanking you for complimenting the cover and praising the Tyndale design team. I don't know why it didn't show up. (Sorry!)

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Veronica. Thanks for having Where Treasure Hides on your "want to read" list. I'm truly honored!

Johnnie Alexander said...

Melissa, my daughter told me just about an hour ago that a Dutch couple related to her mother-in-law who provided photos of Rotterdam for me had read the book and loved it. (Okay, that's a crazy long sentence!) Here's the Guns of Will Sonnett catchphrase (said by quick-draw Walter Brennan): "No brag, just fact." Each episode ends with Will Sonnett saying a prayer. A little corny, but I love it!

Liz R said...

I've been looking forward to reading this one! I love a good WWII story! Thanks for the chance to win!

Liz R in Al