Monday, December 28, 2015

WHERE SHE BELONGS - Johnnie Alexander - One Free Book

Bio: Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell), releases in January, and her first novella, The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), releases in July.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as a category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest, judges various contests, and serves as marketing director for the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons.

Welcome back, Johnnie. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
These are the stories God gives me to tell. I don’t know how else to explain it. An idea tugs at my heart, and I live with it, think about it, imagine it. Especially with the historicals, I also spend time in research. Eventually the words come.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Most of my days are happy days, even the ones that aren’t. I’m an optimistic, glass half-full and getting fuller gal. Babies being born, red-letter celebrations, accomplishments, trips, holidays—these are especially happy days.

I’m going to share a bittersweet day from my teen years. My 4-H project one year was to raise a puppy for Pilot Dogs, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. This organization provides guide dogs for the blind. My puppy, Neil, was a smart, loving, absolutely terrific cream-colored Labrador retriever. One of the most difficult days of my life was the day I had to give him back.

A couple of months later, my parents and I were invited to the company’s headquarters to meet Roy, my Lab’s new owner. As the adults chatted, Neil paced between Roy and me as if he wanted to be with both of us at the same time. Later we walked behind Roy as Neil led him around a busy city block. I was so proud of Neil, and I was proud of me, too. This remains one of the most significant achievements of my life.

How has being published changed your life?
It scares me to have a story contracted that’s not been written. When a publisher buys a finished manuscript, you know they like it. I pray all the time that they’ll like the story they bought sight unseen just as much. (So far, so good!)

Because of deadlines, I’m a more focused writer. Words have to be written no matter how many other things need my attention or whether or not I feel like writing. When I’m overwhelmed, I remind myself that I dreamed of this for a long time. And I thank God for His blessing and His provision.

What are you reading right now?
Believe it or not, I’m reading The Wizard of Oz. My mom and I recently watched Oz, the Great and Powerful, and I felt compelled to read the original story. I’m also reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (taking my time to let the words sink in) and Hollow: An Unpolished Tale by Jena Morrow.

What is your current work in progress?
I’m writing the third book in the Misty Willow Series. It’s not been titled yet so I refer to it as Amy and Gabe’s Story. Amy appears as a secondary character in the first two Misty Willow novels. She’s the cousin of the hero in Where She Belongs and the sister of the hero in When Love Arrives. In those stories, she wasn’t a nice person, so it’s fun (and challenging) to give her a voice in the series.

What would be your dream vacation?
Since it’s a dream vacation, that means anything is possible. So I’ll take a literary trip through time and visit Misselthwaite Manor (The Secret Garden), Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables), Middle-Earth (The Lord of the Rings), Pemberly (Pride and Prejudice), and, just to see what the future really holds, I’ll hop aboard H. G. Welles’ The Time Machine. Let’s add Downton Abbey to the itinerary even though it’s a television show and not a book.

My husband and I both love the Downton Abbey series. I discovered the series late in the first season. I’ve ordered all the DVDs, and we’ve watched each season in a marathon. How do you choose your settings for each book?
The setting for my debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, was determined by the story’s events. A major theme involves the protection of art from the Nazis. With Holland’s rich artistic history, it was the perfect place for my heroine’s ancestral legacy. However, the story also takes the reader to England, France, Germany, and Bavaria. And Argentina.

The novels in the Misty Willow Series take place in a fictionalized county based on the county where I grew up in central Ohio. Though I haven’t lived there in decades, it’s still home.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
I thought of several people, but none really “stuck” until I thought of Sarah Young, the author of such devotionals as Jesus Calling and Jesus Lives. I read a devotion almost every day, and so often it seems especially written for me. I’d love to visit with this gifted and insightful woman.

I’ve read her devotional books more than one time. Even on a second pass through, each day’s devotion applies to my day. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I start projects I don’t finish. Cross-stitch projects, a latch hook rug, a long string of crocheted yarn, scrapbooking—someday, I tell myself, someday! I recently joined the adult coloring book craze, though, and enjoy that activity. It’s one I can finish.

I always had several needlework projects going at once, so I could pick up the one I felt like working on. My husband urged me to start finishing them, one at a time. When I did, I almost felt panic when I didn’t have something to pick up, so I didn’t do that again. And I first started the adult coloring projects when I took some color pages, markers, and color pencils to rehab when I had my second knee replacement in August. Now I own several adult coloring books and color crayons as well. I even have some coloring books that are historical clothing designs. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Just getting started. I thought—and prayed—about the opening to my latest novel for weeks. Nothing felt right. Then early one Sunday morning, I drifted awake with words floating through my mind. I sleepily played with more words then realized this was it! I needed to get these nebulous words on paper. I turned on the light and looked at the clock.

5:20 a.m.

I grabbed my novel notebook, turned to a blank page, and wrote four messy pages that I later turned into, in my opinion, an engaging start to this story.

Been there. Done that. What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Three things: join a writers group to give and receive critiques, attend conferences to learn and network with your peers, and enter contests to receive impartial feedback (and perhaps win!).

Tell us about the featured book.
Where She Belongs, the first novel in the Misty Willow Series, is a story of my heart. It’s not autobiographical, but it is inspired by my yearning to restore a large brick house, built in the mid-1800s, I lived in as a teen.

In the novel, Shelby Kincaid dreams of recreating her own golden childhood for her daughters, but years ago her grandparents’ home was lost to an unscrupulous businessman. AJ Sullivan inherited the deteriorating house from his grandfather as a punishment so he’s glad for Shelby to take it off his hands. But he also wants Shelby to let him into her heart. 

The story explores how past events resonate into the present. Long ago decisions and heartaches, a few made before they were even born, affect Shelby and AJ’s relationship.

Please give us the first page of the book.
In an upstairs room as neglected as all the others, AJ Sullivan flicked the grime from a broad fireplace mantel, then rubbed his fingers on his jeans. Mahogany. Whoever built this place had used the best materials. But more than 150 years later, no one cared.

Except some woman who was about to free him from this millstone.

Pulling her letter from his pocket, he walked across the pitted wood floor to the bay windows. Sunlight filtered through tall, narrow shutters hanging askew on their hinges. He gingerly opened one, and a spider scooted across the marble sill. Through the unwashed glass, dust motes danced in the sun’s beam.

He didn’t need the light to read the letter. Shelby Kincaid’s emotional plea to buy the house scraped an ache he’d thought was buried. When he’d shown the letter to his grandmother, her agitated response had plucked at his heart as desperately as her arthritic fingers had plucked at his shirt sleeve.

He scratched his arm, barely aware of the gesture as Gran’s words echoed in his mind. Find a way. Bring peace to the past.

Tires crunched on gravel, and a motor accelerated a few seconds then idled. He peered through the angled bay window. A slender woman stood by a beige sedan near the end of the drive. Though she was too far away to make out her features, there was something pensive about the way she stared at the house. Chestnut hair blew across her cheek, and she gracefully tucked it behind her ear.

She had to be Shelby Kincaid—the woman who so desperately wanted this forsaken place.

Sounds very interesting. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Please visit me at
I also love to engage with readers on both my author and personal Facebook pages:
Facebook Author Page    

Where She Belongs buy links:
Christian Book Distributors (

Thank you, Johnnie for sharing your life and this new book with us. I know my readers are as eager to read this story as I am.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. 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.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:



Anonymous said...

Id love to read this!
J.C. -Indiana-

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, J.C. Thanks for stopping by! Hope you're out of the path of this winter storm.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, everyone! I'm on the road today, driving home from Tulsa. Weather was awful this morning but not bad right now.

Thanks for reading about my latest novel and participating in the giveaway. I'll be checking in whenever I stop. Enjoy!

angela said...

would love to win. Angela in KY

Melanie Backus said...

i am intrigued by this book and would love to read it. Thank you for the opportunity.

Melanie Backus, TX

Lane Hill House said...

I want to turn the page! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House in Missouri

Johnnie Alexander said...

I finally made it home around 5:45 p.m. It's been a long day brightened by reading your comments. Thank you!

Angela, thanks for your note!

Melanie, I'm glad you're intrigued! [big grin!]

Kathleen, hi! "I want to turn the page"--I love that! Exactly what I hoped :)

Trixi said...

Hi Johnnie! I've seen this book on a couple of other places and it sounds like a great story! Just from the excerpt alone it makes me want to read it. :-) I enjoyed your author interview, always like getting to know writers more. Thanks for sharing!

Trixi in OR

Just Commonly said...

Hi Johnnie! Nice to meet you. You are so funny! Love this interview. I have little projects lying around too to have something to pick up to. Thanks for stopping by here with Lena. I always find this blog a great place for me to get to know authors that are new to me.

Annie (MD)

Mary Preston said...

A wonderful first page thank you.

Mary P


Terrill R. said...

Hi Johnnie!! I am so excited that Where She Belongs is so close to releasing. I have been waiting for your contemporary romance debut since you first announced it. I wish the the best with its success. I've been neglecting my regular blog haunts lately with the holidays and other projects going on, but I'll make sure to keep up with yours; especially with your new release coming.

Terrill - WA

Loraine Nunley said...

Renovating a childhood home and falling in love? Sounds like a good combination to me! I would love to read it. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

Loraine in TX

rubynreba said...

We live in a 100 year old house and I love to read about historic houses. Restoring a childhood home is a great undertaking and I would love to read this.
Beth from IA

Kim Amundsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim Amundsen said...

Oh I love her books. NOrth Platte nebraska

JV in FL said...

I can't put it down, :J good thing I'm on winter break!

Patricia Bradley said...

I love everything Johnnie writes, and as one of her critique partners, I get to see it first!!! Don't enter me as I have preordered the book! Patricia in Mississippi

Brenda Arrington said...

A great sounding book. The first page was interesting. I want to read more.
Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
Brenda in VA

Connie said...

I enjoyed the first page and I am eager to read more.
Happy New Year Lena and Johnnie!
Connie from KY

Shelli Littleton said...

So proud of you, Johnnie! xo

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Trixie. I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt and the interview. Lena asks great questions, doesn't she?

Annie, just this morning my sister saw a skein of yarn in a basket in my bedroom and commented on the pretty color. It's been there for months along with a knitting board still in the box. Maybe this will be the year I learn how to use it and turn that yarn into something fabulous. (I can dream...)

Mary, thank you! Australia and New Zealand are on my someday-travel list. So glad you stopped by!

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Terrill! It's so good to "see" you again. Thank you for your encouragement. I'm thrilled that the story is getting positive reviews and mentions by industry insiders. I hope you love it, too!

Loraine, you're so right. For me, it's a terrific combination. (Shelby is a blessed heroine--smile!)

Ruby, I am so jealous. Do you know the history of your home. You may be interested in Jenni Brummett's blog. She writes about all kinds of houses. You can find her at

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Kim, and thank you! I lived for a few years in Norfolk, Nebraska, and recently wrote a novella set near Neligh. It's part of the Courageous Brides Collection which will be releasing from Barbour in July.

JV, my dear friend! I love that you're reading WSB. Miss you!

A big hug to Pat! God has blessed me with terrific crit partners!

Johnnie Alexander said...

Brenda and Connie--I'm so glad you both enjoyed the opening to my story. (It was rewritten several times.) Thank you for participating in the giveaway. Happy New Year!

Shelli, thank you! It warms my heart to see you here. Hugs and prayers!

Abigail Richmond said...

Looks great! Please enter me!
Blanch, NC

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me in your amazing giveaway!!
Conway, SC.

Beth S. said...

I'd love to read this book! Old restored homes are fascinating, the story sounds great! Thank you for the giveaway!
West Salem, IL

Johnnie Alexander said...

Abigail, you are entered! So glad you're interested in the story!

Sharon, you're entered, too! Thank you!

Beth, thank you! Restored houses fascinate me, too--especially this one. It stood empty for several years after my parents moved out. My sister and I stopped in to see it after it was fixed up, and the family living there showed us around. The husband told us about cleaning out the attic (a horrible job!) so a little bit of that made it into the novel.

Lizzie said... I want a copy! I am always looking for books to feed my reading appetite.

Lizzie said... I want a copy! I am always looking for books to feed my reading appetite.

Lizzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lizzie said...

I want a copy.....crossing my fingers.

Lea said...

oh my goodness, this sounds awesome! it's going to be painful waiting for the entire series to be released! I'm an odd little duck that just can't start a series without having them ALL waiting on my shelf. To read one without being able to move right onto the next is (boy, this makes me sound weird..really hope I'm not alone in this ;) )

I'll be waiting on pins and needles here in Iowa :D

Emily Johnson said...

I'd love to enter this contest! Your such an amazing writer and you've inspired me so much, if I don't win I will surely have to buy a copy!

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Johnnie, Congratulations on your new book! The story sounds great and I love the cover. It's great to learn a little more about you and your writing journey. Blessings, Carrie

Trixi said...

Lea....boy can I EVER relate to you! I HAVE to have all the books in a series before I start. Being left to hang at the end of a book without the next one is pure torture, I agree! Even if it isn't a cliffhanger at the end, knowing I don't have all the series drives me crazy...haha! Just wanted to chime in and let you know you aren't alone in this :-) I'm sure there are others out there like this!

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Lizzie. I love your enthusiasm! Keep those fingers crossed!

Lea, I totally get that. I find it hard to wait between books, too. (But I sure hope you'll change your mind about waiting with this series! LOL)

Emily! Thank you so much for your sweet words. Never stop writing--not that I think you would! Wishing you the best in 2016.

Hi, Carrie! How great to see you here. I love the cover, too. It's perfect for the story. Thanks for the congrats.

Tracy Crump said...

I'm halfway through Where Treasure Hides and loving it! You're a fantastic writer, Johnnie.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Thank you, Tracy. I'm so glad you love the story. See you soon!

Anonymous said...

sounds like a great book! Shelia Hall

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hi, Sheila. So glad you came by!

Johnnie Alexander said...

Lena, thanks again for having me as your guest. May this be the year we both finish our unfinished projects. LOL!

Lea said...

I'm so glad I'm not alone!lol

Sydney Harries said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway! Sydney Harries GA

Phyllis Kemp said...

After reading your comments, I want to read this book!

Phyllis from Illinois