She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest).
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 where her morning chores include feeding dogs, cats, chickens, and a small herd of alpacas.
For more, visit her at www.johnnie-alexander.com.
Savanna: Welcome to the blog, Johnnie. I’m so honored to have you here today. Congratulations on your new release, Where She Belongs. What a beautiful cover!! 🙂
Who do you most relate to in this story and why?
Johnnie: In a way, Shelby fulfills my dream. I lived in an old brick house as a teen which stood empty for several years after my parents moved. As a young woman, I hoped to someday live in the house again but that never happened.
In the story, the house was built by one of Shelby’s long ago ancestors. The current owner has let it fall into ruin, and Shelby buys it so she can raise her daughters there. (I still wish I could go back in time and raise my family in that house.)
Savanna: Oh how neat! Do you have a favorite setting, a particular place, in this book that you enjoyed spending time at with your characters?
Johnnie: I truly enjoyed setting this story in a house I love. We used to roast hot dogs and marshmallows in a fire ring made up of large stones on chilly autumn evenings. The story’s hero, AJ Sullivan, hauls stones from the creek to rebuild the stone circle Shelby remembered from her childhood. It was important to me to include those kinds of details in the story.
Savanna: Which is easier for you to write – historical or contemporary? Can you tell us why?
Johnnie: Historical is more time-consuming because of the research and the double-checking, sometimes triple-checking, for accuracy. But I’m not sure there’s much difference in the actual writing. I am a slow and deliberate writer, and I learn a great deal about my characters while sharing their stories.
My hope is that all my characters, whether historical or contemporary, are so engaging that readers miss them after they finish the story.
Savanna: I loved seeing pictures on your website of you and your farm animals. Looks like you have a lot of great company! 😉 What would you say is your favorite part of living on the farm and what’s the hardest part about it?
Johnnie: My wish for an alpaca turned out to be one a crazy pipe dream that actually came true. However, you can’t have just one because they’re herd animals and need a friend.
I love early mornings—the birdsong, the tranquility, the alpacas crowding around for their feed. The hardest part is death. Several months ago a fox family brazenly dined on our chickens. We don’t raise chickens anymore.
Savanna: Ohhh, I’m sorry. I know that feeling. My parents have chickens and occasionally one will just disappear. 🙁
You’ve won several awards in your writing career so far. What’s something you’ve learned along the way as you’ve entered in these contests?
Because of one judge’s comments, I wrote a different opening chapter to Where She Belongs so our first introduction to Shelby is from AJ’s perspective. When I wrote that judge a thank you note, she wrote back, and we still stay in touch.
Naturally, I love the positive and encouraging comments, but it’s the harder (yet helpful) feedback that helps the most. Only once did I think a judge was totally off base.
Savanna: That’s just what aspiring writers need to hear. Authors never stop learning. 😉 Thank you so much for sharing with us today! Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Johnnie: I’m very excited to have two more stories releasing in 2016. When Love Arrives, the second book in the Misty Willow Series, comes out in September. AJ’s cousin and rival, Brett Somers, stars in that story.
My first novella, The Healing Promise, will appear in The Courageous Brides Collection which releases in July. This story is based on true events that occurred during the Ponca Trail of Tears in 1877 Nebraska.
Savanna: That sounds great, Johnnie! Can’t wait to read your upcoming books. 😉
Johnnie has graciously offered to give away a copy of Where She Belongs to one lucky winner. Enter below and it could be you!
Thanks for entering! Contest is valid for US residents only. Contest ends February 2, 2016. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!