Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Johnnie Alexander Donley {Writer Wednesday}

I don't know about you, but I've been loving the "Spread the Christmas Joy" posts!!! Talk about encouraging, funny, and heartwarming all around. And hey, what about those giveaways? Pretty fun, right? Well, I've made it just that much easier for you to find the giveaway posts and comment for your chance to WIN! You can follow [this link] or you can to go the tab at the top of the blog that says "Christmas Joy Giveaway" and see the giveaways there as well as find the links to each post. Leave a comment on the ones you'd like (yes, you can enter more than one!) by December 31st and you will be entered to win. I'll be announcing the winners the first week in January.

And now, to our first special guest of the day, Johnnie Alexander Donley. She has graciously offered an ebook giveaway of her novel, Where Treasure Hides. And make sure you check back later today to get some JOY from JoAnn Durgin with -- yes you guessed it -- another GIVEAWAY! Yep, that's TWO giveaways in ONE day. Talk about Christmas Joy ;)

A little bit about Johnnie...

Author Johnnie Alexander Donley writes inspirational stories about family legacies. Her debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, is an intriguing World War II romance that won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest for Historical Fiction in 2011. A history enthusiast, Johnnie has also edited nonfiction manuscripts and textbooks. She is a founding member and current president of the ACFW Central Florida chapter. A longtime Florida resident, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, stacks of books, and her papillon Rugby.

How to connect with Johnnie...

Purchase her book: Where Treasure Hides [here]

Author Interview | Johnnie Alexander Donley

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’ve imagined stories most of my life, but my first major fiction writing venture was for Nanowrimo in 2003. That project is hidden away. It’s not well-written at all. But the experience taught me I could create characters and write dialogue. Most of all, I learned how much I loved the creative process. I believed I had found my calling.

...However, I had a family and a full-time job, and I was working on my master’s degree. My next major milestone came in 2007 when I attended the Florida Christian Writing Conference and learned how much I didn’t know. Writing is a lifetime learning process—hard and fun at the same time.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...My sentimental favorite is the first manuscript I completed and polished. Though the opening pages have won a couple of conference awards and gained an editor’s interest, it’s also tucked away. The novel has gone through a few name changes, but I usually refer to it as Sparrow, the protagonist’s Allied code name.

...The writing and rewriting process taught me important lessons about character development and plotting—mainly to trust my characters and the story. They usually hold the answer to any difficult corners I get trapped in.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

 ...The hardest part, other than facing rejection, is the marketing. It’s a necessary part of the process, but I struggle with it.

...The easiest part is smiling way too big when something wonderful happens. My most recent happy dance was a couple of weeks ago when I learned a translation of Where Treasure Hides is being released by a Dutch publishing company in April 2014. The cover is absolutely beautiful (pictured to the right). I’m still smiling way too big about that.
Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book? Why did you write it? ...While researching another novel, I became fascinated with the extensive looting that occurred during World War II. Hitler and his minions turned art theft into a Nazi sport. At the same time, I learned about the experiences of Jewish children who spent the war in hiding. The two themes of hidden art and hidden children came together for Where Treasure Hides.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I’m crazy about the three main characters. Alison Schuyler is a talented artist who cares deeply about protecting Dutch art and children. Theodor Scheidemann, a Nazi officer who is obsessed with Alison, would be surprised to learn he’s the antagonist in the story. Then there’s Ian Devlin, the handsome British captain who captures Alison’s heart before being captured at Dunkirk, escaping a German POW camp, and saving the life of a Jewish orphan.

...If I have to choose one favorite, I choose Ian because he is the reason Where Treasure Hides was written. Friends of mine who read the manuscript for Sparrow wanted a sequel, but the story’s ending made that difficult.

...Ian was a major secondary character in Sparrow, so instead of writing a sequel, I decided to write his love story. Voila! After months and months and months, I had Where Treasure Hides.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...Alison’s go-to Scripture is one of my favorites: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future” (Proverbs 31:25 NASB).


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...You know how sometimes you get that indescribable feeling that tingles in your heart? Those are the ideas and themes that grab me. It started with Sparrow, inspired by my fascination with German POW camps in the United States. As I said above, Treasure was inspired by my fascination with art thefts and hidden children.

...I don’t base characters on real people, but I’ve asked certain people what they would do in specific situations. For example, I called my son-in-law, a former Marine, and asked him what he would do if he was POW escapee and had killed a German soldier. That was a fun conversation.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to write thought-provoking stories that readers don’t want to put down and that will linger with them long after they close the last page.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...The 3Cs: critique groups, contests, and conferences. A good critique group helps with learning the craft. Contests provide invaluable feedback (and can help toughen fragile skin). Writing conferences are great educational and networking opportunities.

...Most importantly, pray and persevere.


What is your favorite snack to eat when writing?
...I go through snack phases. My current favorite is Good and Plenty, but I also like Smarties and Neccos (which I separate by color before eating). I also like popcorn.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
...“What Child is This?” is one of my very favorites. It’s also known as “Greensleeves,” and I used it as the tune played in a musical keepsake that Ian gives to Alison in Where Treasure Hides.

What is your favorite thing about the Christmas season?
...Being with my family as we celebrate Jesus’ birth. We have a great time cooking, eating, opening presents, and playing games. My three grandsons are close enough in age that they’ve played either Baby Jesus or Toddler Jesus for Nativity programs a few times. They’re too old for that now, but those memories are so special.

Thank you so much for sharing Johnnie! I gravitate to the history of WWII as well as anything vintage from that era. Your book sounds absolutely wonderful! I am excited for you as well for the release in Dutch - the cover is beautiful.

Don't forget to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of Where Treasure Hides by commenting below by December 23rd. I'll announce the winner on Christmas Eve (December 24th). But, if you just can't wait that long, purchase a copy of Where Treasure Hides [here].

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