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Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

The Story behind When Loves Arrive by Johnnie Alexander

Our guest this week is a friend of mine, Johnnie Alexander. She’s a very talented writer and a sweet lady. She’s here to share the story behind her latest release, When Love Arrives.

Here’s a little bit about the book.

when-love-arrivesDani Prescott came to the children’s hospital to spy on Brett Somers–so how did she end up on a date with him? Weeks earlier she’d seen an interview in which he blamed her mother for the plane crash that had killed his parents. But the crash had killed her mother as well, so Dani can’t believe the story Brett’s trying to sell to the media.

Vowing to find a way to discredit the privileged–and maddeningly handsome–Brett, Dani has been following him and taking photos, hoping to find something she can use against him. But when she catches his eye instead, she quickly finds herself offering up a fake name and agreeing to a date. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something–but he’s got his own secrets to keep. What will happen when he discovers who she really is? Will Dani and Brett look beyond their own heartaches to discover a love that could heal their deepest pain?

Fresh, flirty, and fast-paced, When Love Arrives is an engaging story that will have readers falling in love with the characters as they navigate the tricky waters between romance and revenge.

So, Johnnie, can you share a little bit about how this story came to be?

I love story-behind-the-story posts. And I’d love to share with you the fascinating spark behind my latest story, When Love Arrives, the second novel in the Misty Willow Series.

Alas. There isn’t one.

But don’t go away! There is a story behind the series and an odd example of how a decision I made over ten years ago affected the characters in When Love Arrives.

The series’ first story, Where She Belongs, was written because I’m in love with a house I lived in when I was a teen. I often dreamed of living there again, but that never happened. So I created a character with a similar dream who had the opportunity to make it come true.

At the time I wrote the first draft, as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) way back in November 2005, I didn’t expect to write a series. But when the time finally came—about eight years later—to shop it around, my agent suggested adding two more story ideas to the proposal. I signed a contract with Revell, handed in the manuscript for the first story, and settled down to write the second.

Brett Somers, the hero of When Love Arrives, is a character in the first story, so I knew him fairly well. Dani Prescott, the heroine, is a newcomer, but I knew she didn’t like Brett because he had, without knowing who she was, done something to hurt her.
But what had he done?

I thought I knew, but about a third of the way into the story—well, let’s just say I was wrong.
I tried again with a different motivation for Dani, reached about the two/thirds point, and hit a wall. This wasn’t working either.

What is this story? I prayed as I walked the pasture to get my Fitbit steps. What is the reason for her anger?

I don’t remember how many days I prayed as I walked (and at other times, too), but I was in the pasture when the answer came.

Duh! Of course, that’s it.

The conflict between the characters in When Love Arrives is because of an off-the cuff decision I’d made a long time ago.

You see, in the first story, Brett’s cousin AJ is the hero, and AJ’s parents couldn’t be in his life. So, to put it delicately, I killed them.

In a plane crash with no survivors.

Brett ’s parents were on that plane, too.

Dani’s mom was the pilot.

When Brett publicly blames Dani’s mom for the crash, she is intent on finding a way to publicly humiliate him. This is the conflict that drives the story—a detail I stuck in “just because.”

Sometimes I wonder if our stories are somehow complete before we ever begin them. Perhaps the creative process is all about discovering a story’s “truth.”

It’s a mystery I ponder.

This I know: A simple decision made long ago for one novel is the story-behind-the-story of a second novel.

Thanks for sharing that with us, Johnnie. What an interesting peek into how a novel is written.

johnnie-alexanderJohnnie Alexander dreams up stories while raccoons and foxes occasionally pass by her window. Her debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, was a CBA bestseller and has been translated into Dutch and Norwegian. Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series #1), her first contemporary romance, was a Library Journal Pick of the Month. Recent releases include The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection) and When Love Arrives (Misty Willow Series #2).

Johnnie is marketing director for the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference and president of the American Christian Fiction Writers Memphis chapter. She lives near Memphis with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees those pesky raccoons whenever he gets the chance.

Join Johnnie at to experience the charm of country living, the love of random travel, and the joy of treasured memories.


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Johnnie is giving away a copy of the book. Scroll down for directions on how to enter.

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Thanks for joining us, Johnnie, and sharing your story.


  1. This book was recommended to me by a friend. 😀 My favorite part of the writing process is creating the characters…ahh, the creativity!!

  2. Thanks for having me as your guest, Liz! It’s a joy to be here and I am excited to chat with everyone!

  3. I think the constraints of character development within the general words/pages allocated.

  4. It’s so fascinating how the characters talk to the authors, sometimes taking themselves in completely directions than the author originally had in mind!

    • Hi, Robin. I’ve never lived in NC but it’s one of my favorite states to visit. Or even drive through. You’re right–it’s fascinating and even a little awe-inspiring how the characters take over. I love it when it happens. Thanks for being here!

  5. Hi Johnnie. I agree with Liz that you are a very sweet lady. 🙂 Just reading the book synopsis makes me a little anxious. When a lie is the basis for the beginning of a relationship, it’s never going to go well. That anxiety is what helps me to keep the pages turning. Although, I did read a book over the summer that created so much anxiety, I had to stop reading. I’m not a quitter, though and picked it back up later. Yet, it just about gutted me.

    • Hi, Terrill. You and Liz are making me blush! You’re absolutely right about a relationship that begins with a lie. And poor Dani. It’s not like she really meant to lie. But once she did, she was stuck with it until things got out of control. I promise you, though, it all ends well and no more lying after that!

  6. What fascinates me most is the amount of time, thought and research that goes into character development as well as the plot lines and location. I also like series where new characters are introduced and old characters return, so it is fascinating to think that authors sometimes plan 2 to 3 books ahead.

    • Hi, Merry. I love your comment–the character development is fascinating to me because it’s not really a science at all. Sure, there are tips for creating characters and they need to fulfill the role for which they’re created–such as hero/heroine or best friend or nemesis–whatever it may be. But given the freedom, they become themselves, and that’s such a fulfilling thing to have happen. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Enjoyed the interview with Johnnie. I am really looking forward to reading the book.

  8. Hi Liz and Johnnie,
    What I like most about the writing process is the ideas needed to develop a good plot. The writer sometimes has to do a lot of research if writing a historical novel. The writer must also develop characters that are believable and make you want to read to learn more about them.
    Thanks so much for this interview and giveaway.

    • Hi, Rebecca. The most fun part of developing characters is when they become so real they make their own decisions. I love it when they surprise me! And you’re right about the research needed for historical novels. I love it though, and I know Liz does, too. Thanks so much for participating in the giveaway!

  9. Would love to read this book.

  10. How long it takes to actually write the book and get it publish ready. And also finding a publisher!

  11. Thanks to everyone who commented and participated in the giveaway! I’m sorry I was late responding to a few of you. My sister and I went to Prince Edward Island and the internet connection where we were staying seemed highly dependent on the wind not blowing. And the wind often blew so we had trouble getting online. I appreciate you all so much!

    Liz, thank you, too, for sharing the news about When Love Arrives and hosting the giveaway. I’m so glad we’ve connected and that we got to meet face-to-face at the ACFW conference. Such fun!