Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Happens Next? by Alison Henderson

This month we’re talking about where writers get their ideas. Every story is born from bits and pieces lifted from life or conjured by the imagination, but my second book, A Man Like That, followed a different path from my first because it’s a sequel.

When I plotted Harvest of Dreams, I had no thought of writing a sequel. I was thrilled just to write a complete book that made sense and I loved, but about halfway through, something surprising happened. Two of the secondary characters grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Their romance appeared to resolve at the end of the first book, but by then I knew them too well to be fooled into thinking their relationship could ever go that smoothly. I had to write their story to find out what happened next.

Many experienced writers have written helpful articles about how to plan a sequel or series—how to construct charts to keep the details straight and plan an overall story arc. In my ignorance, I did none of those things. As it turned out, I didn’t need to. Jessy and Morgan had become so alive to me I had no trouble picking their story up where it left off at the end of Harvest of Dreams.

Two things made that easier. First, I started A Man Like That immediately after finishing the first book when every element of the story was still fresh in my mind, and second, I took my characters into a completely different setting so very few details had to be carried over. A couple of the main characters from the first book appeared at the beginning of A Man Like That and again at the end to help tie the stories together, but the main body of this book belongs strictly to Jessy and Morgan.

The setting I chose for A Man Like That is also a bit unorthodox. You don’t see many historical romances set the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri, but there’s a personal connection for me. My husband’s family is from that area, and I had lots of fun incorporating some of their speech patterns into the book. One of my mother-in-law’s favorite threats when my husband was growing up was “You’d better watch it or I’m going to jerk a knot in your tail”. I had to borrow that one; it’s perfect for so many situations, don’t you think?

Here’s the blurb for A Man Like That:

Jessamine Randall, fearless crusader and champion of the downtrodden, is not a woman to be left waiting at the altar.  When her fiancé disappears hours before their wedding, the ever-resourceful Jessy hatches a plan to track him down and bring him back where he belongs.

Morgan Bingham knows he’s no good.  Never has been.  Never will be.  A former outlaw is no fit husband for the only daughter of the town judge, despite her misguided notions.  Besides, after ten long years away from home, it’s time to return to the hills and face his demons.

Ill-prepared, but armed with unshakeable certainty, Jessy follows Morgan to his family’s cabin deep in the Ozark Mountains where she’s sucked into a whirlpool of deep secrets and old hatreds.  While she struggles to bring light and hope into their dark lives, her greatest challenge is Morgan himself.   Can she ever convince him he’s worthy of love?

Today I’m giving away a free print copy of A Man Like That to one lucky commenter.  If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, just include your email address in your comment.



Margo Hoornstra said...


Don't you love it when characters are strong enough-read well enough developed-to take us over?

Jannine Gallant said...

Alison, very smart of you to begin immediately. I wrote Victim of Desire a long, long, time ago. It was published over two years ago. Then I, in my infinite wisdom, decided the heroine's sister, Grace, should have her own story. I couldn't remember any of the details! Had to reread sections of my own book! Still working on that one because of course I've been sidetracked by other ideas since then... I loved your first book. I know I'd love this one if I could scrape together some reading time!

Alison Henderson said...

Jannine, I didn't start the second one right away on purpose. I simply couldn't help myself. Now that I've been writing longer and have so many more characters in my head, I have to re-read and remind myself of the details just to do promo because by the time the book comes out, I've moved on to several other projects.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Interesting post. I loved Harvest of Dreams and have A Man Like That on my Kindle...waiting...

I'm trying to finish book 3 of a series and must reveal the head of the terrorist group that's been running rampant through the first 2 books. I envy your ability to do so well with sequels. Yay you!!!

Alison Henderson said...

Vonnie, I'm so envious of your creativity and productivity. You're a wonder!

P.L. Parker said...

Hi Alison - love the post and this is such a beautiful blog spot. Good luck on sales and congratulations on the release.

Anonymous said...

I already have A MAN LIKE THAT and have enjoyed it very much.

Alison Henderson said...

Hi P.L. - Actually, A Man Like That was last year's release. I have a new Love Letters novella coming out in December. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Alison Henderson said...

Hi Charlene - I'm so glad you've enjoyed A Man Like That!