Friday, November 19, 2010

Special Guest Alison Henderson

My Journey to Publication

Hello, Ladies! Thanks for inviting me to join you today to talk about my road to publication. It may not be the longest on record, but many days it felt like it – more than twenty years from the day I scribbled the first story outline in a notebook until I held a published book in my hand.

I’m not one of those writers who always wanted to write. I never considered writing fiction until I took an extended leave from work when my daughter was born. (She’s now a graduate student.) At that time, modern romance fiction was new, and I was swept away by the books of early mistresses of the genre like Kathleen Woodiwiss and LaVyrle Spencer.

I read everything I could get my hands on, and by the time my daughter started pre-school, I decided to try writing one of my own. I quickly became hooked on the creative process. When I had nearly finished my first manuscript, I met LaVyrle Spencer at a booksigning, and she steered me to my local chapter of RWA. I started a second manuscript, which ultimately became Harvest of Dreams, my first published book, and signed with an agent.

I thought I had it made. The path to publication would be smooth and short. Right? Wrong.

It turned out my agent had limited contacts and failed to sell my first, second, and third manuscripts. In retrospect, I can see that those manuscripts weren’t ready to sell, but I hadn’t yet learned what was wrong or how to fix it. Also, about that time life intervened, as it often does, and I had to go back to work full time. I parted ways with my agent and put my writing on the back burner.

For the next several years, I occasionally tinkered with the second and third manuscripts because I still loved the stories and couldn’t bring myself to give up on them. (The first book was a wonderful learning experience but unsalvageable.) I entered a few contests and finaled and learned a tremendous amount about writing, but I couldn’t figure out how to balance a full time job, taking care of my family, and writing.

Unfortunately, during this time the popularity of my subgenre, Western historicals, steadily waned, and with it my chances of seeing these stories in print. Then, in 2006, Harvest of Dreams and its sequel, A Man Like That, placed first and second in the Lake Country Romance Writers contest, and the editor/judge requested a full of A Man Like That. I fired it off right away and sat back to wait. And wait. And wait. Twenty-two months and three polite email inquiries later, I received a bland “not as excited about it as other projects I’m considering” rejection. Back to the drawing board.

I decided to put the historicals aside and try writing contemporary romantic suspense. While it was tremendous fun, I was still too stubborn to completely give up on my Westerns. By this time, e-publishing was growing by leaps and bounds. I saw that an editor from The Wild Rose Press was judging the Western Historical category of the 2009 Hearts Through History contest and entered both manuscripts. Harvest of Dreams finaled again. Although it didn’t win, the comments of the published judges were so encouraging I decided to query Wild Rose Press anyway. Several weeks later, I received a contract.

Three weeks ago, eighteen long years after its conception, Harvest of Dreams was finally released. I’m also pleased to announce that the day I began promotion for it, I received a contract for the A Man Like That. Now other readers can get to know the characters who have been so close to my heart for long.

Thank you again for having me today, and I invite everyone to visit me on the web at

Harvest of Dreams Blurb

Alone on her farm in the middle of a blizzard, young widow Lisa McAllister labors to give birth to her first child. Help arrives in the strong hands of a stranger wearing a six-gun. Lisa has no reason to trust this man who makes a living by violence, even if he is on the right side of the law. Men and their guns have already claimed the lives of her father, brother, and husband, and she’s determined to protect her son at any cost.

Jared Tanner, a security agent for the stagecoach, has been on his own since he was twelve. Against his better judgment, his feelings of protectiveness toward Lisa and her baby turn to something deeper, and he is tempted by the possibility of a family of his own. Can their tender new love survive when an act of ultimate violence threatens to tear them apart?


  1. Thanks for being here today, Alison! I finished reading Harvest of Dreams last weekend. It is a fantastic romance set in post-Civil War Missouri. I really enjoyed it, (and will write my review for the MFW Muse asap.)

  2. Thanks, Ana. I'm so glad you liked it!

  3. Congratulations on your perseverance, Alison - and on getting your novels published. Your account exemplifies 'if at first don't succeed, keep trying' and I'm so pleased you eventually found success!

  4. Hi Alison,

    Thanks for joining us today. Congratulations on your success. I wish you many sales!

    The cover for "Harvest of Dreams" is beautiful.

    Isn't it fun for others to read about the characters we know and love so well?

  5. Hi Paula,
    Thanks for the encouragement. I dedicated this book in part to my late grandmother for teaching me the power of perseverance. I hope other aspiring authors find it encouraging.

    Hi Debra,
    Thank you. I love the cover, too! You're so right--I've received a couple of very nice reviews, and it IS fun to have others enjoy my characters.