Congratulations to the winner of the Author Spotlight giveaway of Hannah’s Choice, LAURIE BERGH. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.

Welcome Johnnie Alexander, author of Where She Belongs, to Author Spotlight! Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release.

Alexander_JohnnieIntroduce us to you as an author: When did you get bit with the writing bug? How would you describe your writing style?

Thanks for having me as your guest, Suzanne. It’s always fun to share my writing journey with new readers.

I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember, but I let life (and fear) swat away the writing bug for way too long. A couple turning points for me were participating in National Novel Writing Month for the first time in 2003 and attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference in 2007.

From NaNoWriMo, I learned how much I loved being surprised by what my characters did all on their own, and God blessed me with lifelong friendships at the FCWC. Attending a conference may be the most important investment writers can make in their careers.

I’ve been told I have a strong sense of place and a poetic style. Several reviewers have complimented the imagery. I hope and pray my stories linger in the readers’ hearts long after they close the last page.

Tell us about your new release:

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.

How can readers connect with you online?

Please feel free to connect with me on my websites: Johnnie Alexander and Misty Willow Series.

I also love to engage with friends and followers on Facebook and on Twitter.

Anything new for you on the book horizon?

When Love Arrives, the second book in the Misty Willow Series, releases in September. It features Brett Somers, AJ’s cousin, who is trying to turn his life around after learning . . . well, that would be a spoiler alert for Where She Belongs.

I’m currently writing the third novel in the series which releases in May 2017. The heroine is Amy Somers, Brett’s sister, who is recovering from an eating disorder.

I’m also excited about the July release of my first novella, tentatively titled The Healing Promise, which is part of the Courageous Brides Collection (Barbour). The story is set in 1870s Nebraska and is based on a true event involving the Ponca Trail of Tears.

Other good news: My debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, will soon be published in Norway. That’s such an unexpected and fun blessing.

After you started writing seriously, how long was it before you were published?

About six years. I count “getting serious” from that first Florida Christian Writers Conference I attended in 2007. My debut novel was published by Tyndale as an ebook in 2013 and the print edition released last summer.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well?

I may be one of the only writers on the planet who does not drink coffee. Just never acquired a taste for it. Several months ago, I gave up my Coca-Cola addiction but now I’m drinking too much root beer.

Most mornings I pull on my farm boots, slip my phone, a pocketknife, and a pair of work gloves in my jeans pockets, and head up the hill behind the house to feed and water our alpaca herd.

Once that is done, I do pasture-laps—walking around and around and up and down until my Fitbit hits 10,000 steps. It’s a great time for praying, imagining, working out scenes, and, yes, more praying.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first-draft reader?

Three things—and these are also what I suggest to beginning writers: Attend writers conferences to network and grow in your craft; enter contests to receive objective feedback, and join a critique group to learn how to give and receive constructive criticism.

Do you prefer reading physical books or e-readers?

It really depends on the book. I love my Kindle, but most of my books on writing are print editions. I like tagging the pages and being able to flip through the chapters. I also prefer physical books for devotionals and spiritual growth books.

What book have you reread the most?

I love this question. Besides the Bible, three very different books came to mind: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.Adobe Photoshop PDF

Best author moment? Worst author moment?

Let’s get the worst author moment over with first. Ugh! That would be the sick feeling I got when I read my first two-star review. I was embarrassed and humiliated that it was out there for everyone to see. Even worse, it was one of the first reviews I received so I felt like a failure. I just held in the hurt and didn’t talk to anyone about it for months. The good news is that’s it’s still the only two-star review I’ve received, and the sting is gone.

Choosing one best author moment is hard but I think it was holding that precious book in my hands for the first time, breathing in that new book fragrance, and leafing through the pages at the words I’d labored over for so long. Whatever came before and whatever comes after, this is the moment. The fulfillment of the dream.

If you weren’t able to write, what would you do?

I cannot even fathom not being able to write.

If you could write any book–on any topic–and be guaranteed a publishing contract, what topic would it be? (Or genre?)

I’d like to write a story about Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s first wife. To me, her story is one of the most tragic in the Old Testament. It’d take a lot of research and time, and I don’t know that I could do it better than the books already on the market about her. But I’d like to try.

What was your biggest break?

I won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest (Historical) in 2011. Jan Stob, an acquisitions editor with Tyndale, was one of the final round judges. A few months later, she contacted my agent about offering me a contract.

Who’s your favorite character you’ve written so far? Explain:

This is another fun question because we love so many of our characters. How can we choose just one? So is it okay if I cheat just a little?

I love Ian Devlin, the hero from Where Treasure Hides, because he has mischievous eyes and a heart-flipping grin.

I love Peter Schuyler, the heroine’s father—also from Where Treasure Hides—because he was nothing at all like I expected him to be. No character has surprised me so much, and kept so much from me, as Peter.

I love AJ Sullivan, the hero from Where She Belongs, because of how deeply he loves despite his past heartaches—and because he’s almost always wearing a ball cap with The Ohio State University logo on it.

If your house were on fire, what one thing would you save?

My papillon Rugby and my Maine Coon kitten Addie. And my May angel, a little porcelain figurine my mom gave me for my ninth birthday.

If I could go anywhere, it would be…

This one is easy—I want to take an extended road trip around the 48 continental states. And if time and money aren’t an issue (and since this is my dream trip, they aren’t!), I’ll also drive through all the Canada provinces and up to Alaska.

[Tweet “.@johnnie_alexndr shares the 3 biggest helps on her journey to publication #amwriting”]


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