That Friend — Guest Laura Bradford

Sherry here welcoming author Laura Bradford back to the Wickeds. She’s an amazing writer and woman. This post touches my heart. And I hope you all go out and buy her new book Portrait of a Sister! Here is a bit about the book:

Katie Beiler was always the follower to her twin sister Hannah’s lead. That is until Hannah left their Amish upbringing for an English life—leaving Katie to find her own footing in a world that no longer looks as it once did . . .

Katie has always imagined her life being just like Mamm’s. It’s why she chose baptism and why she’ll soon marry Abram Zook. But ever since Hannah left, the only thing that truly makes Katie smile is the sketchpad in which she indulges her talent for drawing faces—a sin that, if discovered, could get her shunned by her family, her friends, and even Abram. Yet Katie sees her secret pastime as the only way to quiet a growing restlessness she’d just as soon ignore. That is until their Mamm’s untimely death brings Hannah back home to Pennsylvania, with a new outlook on life, a man she adores, and, soon, an invitation for Katie to visit her in New York City.

Suddenly, Katie is experiencing a freedom she’s never had, in a world she never imagined. She’s also spending time in the company of a fellow dreamer, someone who sees her as strong and brave and makes her laugh. But it’s when Hannah shows Katie’s drawings to a gallery owner that she truly finds herself at a crossroads between the only life she’s ever known and the powerful lure of an unfamiliar future.

Laura: When I sat down to write this post, I thought it would be about my transition from cozy mysteries to women’s fiction. After all, if one of my fellow cozy authors suddenly veered in a completely different direction, I’d be curious as to why/how.

But there’s another story tied to this whole transition that seems a better fit for Wicked Cozy Authors, a blog founded on (and run by) women who epitomize what it means to be true, supportive friends. Because just as Katie Beiler, the main character in Portrait of a Sister, is essentially nudged into discovering who she is/what she wants in life, Portrait of a Sister’s release this week is, in part, due to someone who nudged me.

First though, a little backstory (it’s a blog, not a book, right?)…

Of the thirty books I’ve written prior to Portrait of a Sisters release, twenty-six of them were essentially cozy mysteries. I love the small town, regular “jane” protagonist aspect of the genre for its relatability. The whodunit part was always fun to write, but the characters and their lives spoke to me most. Readers who took the time to write me notes about my books over the years, always commented about my characters, letting me know that what I felt while writing my mysteries, was the same thing my readers were receiving. And just like they wanted to know more about certain characters, so did I.

I think that’s when I really started thinking about women’s fiction. After all, I loved reading women’s fiction for the same reason I wanted to write it. Unfortunately, breaking into a completely different genre isn’t always easy. So after playing around with an idea or two, I put the whole women’s fiction idea on the back burner in favor of my contracted (read: paying) mysteries.

Or so I thought.

Sure enough, while writing the fifth book in my Amish Mysteries (in particular the pivotal character of Detective Jakob Fisher), I knew I could no longer ignore the urge.

Quick side note of explanation:  Detective Jakob Fisher was raised/baptized Amish and opted to leave to pursue law enforcement, thus severing all ties to his family. I explore his heartache to a degree in my mysteries, but I’ve always been fascinated by it on a different level.

 My fascination with his choice claimed its own corner of my brain, birthing a completely different character and her twin sister—characters that spoke to me at all hours of the day and night.

And then tragedy struck my household and everything turned upside down. My thoughts…my worries…my every brain cell was focused on my children. When a quiet moment presented itself, I was working on a deadline book, but really, I was drowning. Once in a while I could see the shoreline, but it was in someone else’s world, not mine.

Until the day I talked to Joe, that is. Joe is one of the truest, most genuine people I’ve ever known, and he is the complete definition of the word “friend.”  He knew what was going on, he listened, he spoke, he wiped my tears from 1200 miles away, and when I told him I felt as if I was drowning, he threw out a three-part life raft:

  • He worked out a word count schedule for me to follow to hit the two back-to-back deadlines. This sounds like a no-brainer, and it’s something I do with most of my books, but I was unable to think of anything during this time. His doing it for me helped. He broke it down into manageable chunks at a time everything seemed too big.
  • He encouraged me to take two weeks for myself before moving on to the third deadline. He said I needed to do something for me.
  • When all my deadlines were met, he said I needed to step away from the computer and live.

Thanks to his schedule and his support, I made the two back-to-backers. And his third suggestion? About the big break when all my deadlines were met? I took the entire summer off in 2017 (heaven, I tell you).

But it was that second suggestion that had me writing the proposal for Portrait of a Sister. Literally five days after I started, I sent the eight chapter/full synopsis proposal to my agent. No more than three hours later, she was on the phone with me, the emotion in her voice letting me know I’d hit the right note. By the end of that week, the proposal was sent to a handful of publishers and a bidding war of sorts began.

Yes, I wrote Portrait of a Sister.

And yes, it was a passion project in every sense of the word.

But it being out this week? That’s because of Joe. Because of his nudge. Because he knew I was drowning and he held out his hand.

That’s what friends do. ~Laura

P.S. A huge thank you to the Wickeds for inviting me to be here today, and for being living, breathing examples of the reality that no one person’s boat has to sink in order for someone else’s to float.

P.P.S.   Portrait of a Sister is now available in trade paperback and e-book. It is a “summer book club” pick for Mary Janes Farm Magazine and Southern Lady Magazine.  To learn more about the book, visit my website:  https://www.laurabradford.com/ , and hang out with me on my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/laurabradfordauthor/

Readers: Have you had a friend step in and help you?

Bio: Laura is the national bestselling author of several mystery series, including the Amish Mysteries, the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries, and the Tobi Tobias Mystery Series. Portrait of a Sister is her first women’s fiction novel. ​ A former Agatha Award nominee and recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, and being an advocate for those living with Multiple Sclerosis.

26 thoughts on “That Friend — Guest Laura Bradford

  1. Wow, Laura. You are indeed blessed to have Joe in your life, and to have found your voice in an entirely new genre! I am off to order the book.

    As you mentioned, the Wickeds are true friends, supporters, guideposts, and safety nets to each other. My writing life would be much lonelier and less effective without them,

  2. Welcome back, Laura! What a lovely tribute to your friend and your own strength in going through difficult times, but not letting go of your dream. Thank you for your lovely comments about the Wickeds.

  3. I’ve wanted to read ” Portrait of a Sister” since I first heard about it. It’s on my TBR list and I am hoping to have the opportunity to read it sooner than later.

    My BFF definitely proved to me what true friendship is. My Mom came to live with us permanently after a bad cancer surgery and with Alzheimer. My husband and I were full time caregivers 24/7. Others talk of great hospice care, but let me tell you it didn’t exist in the way folks talk about in our neck of the woods. Our visits were 10-15 minutes twice a week from the nurse and a helper for one hour twice a week who couldn’t do anything without our assistance. This meant that even the little things like my husband and I going to the story together or out to grab a bite to eat came to a halt because or the other had to be with Mom. Thankfully I was a stay at home wife and my husband took over a lot of the duties when he came home so I could cook and clean.

    It’s at times like this that most “friends” seem to disappear. If you aren’t in the mix and aren’t useful to them, then you don’t exist. It was after months of being in the walls of the house caring for Mom that my FRIEND from many miles away saved my sanity. Through skype and messenger we talked – she was there for me. She took the bull by the horns and arranged for hubby to take over all care for Mom for 2 days and arranged to fly in midway while I drove up for a girl’s weekend of fun and pampering. She made me realize that if I didn’t take care of myself, then I was really not able to take care of Mom properly. From then on, hubby and I decided that we each needed a weekend away doing fun stuff with each taking every other month. He would arrange motorcycle rides to rallies etc. and I would meet up with my friend or drive somewhere just to shop and relax.

    Five years later when Mom went to her heavenly home, I knew I had done all I could to show her love and give her the care she needed while keeping her at home like we had promised. I have no regrets. But I also know that a whole lot of that is because of one dear person who loved me enough to tell me she loved me but also told me to step back and take care of and love myself too. She is a jewel of a friend and I love her. She is my sister by choice!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    • Kay, this is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. One true friend can really make all the difference, can’t they? You so get what I was saying in my post, and I’m so glad your sister by choice was who you needed her to be!! Hugs to both of you!!!

  4. Laura, sending you virtual hugs. so glad you had a safety net, that friend who came through for you when you most needed his help. And that you were open to receiving it. Sometimes that’s half the battle, isn’t it?

    As a longtime fan of your writing, I’m thrilled to know you are stepping into a new area of writing. I look forward to watching this new phase, and how your amazing perspective grows and changes from where it has been before.

  5. Hi, Laura!!!! I can’t wait to read this book. It’s a brave thing to genre-jump but I just know this is going to help you grow and heal and touch a lot of old–and new!–readers.. P.S., we need to catch up. I’ll do my best to get to the Windsor Locks Public Library on July 10. (Blog readers–if you are in the area, Laura is speaking at the Windsor Locks PL at 6:30 on July 10–come on out and support her! http://www.windsorlockslibrary.org/#PROGRAMS

  6. Congrats on the new book, and thanks for sharing the story about how it came to be.

    Mark
    (Who is on his phone and so not logged in today.)

  7. What a wonderful friend. Thank you for sharing it with us. I started this book late last night. Loving it so far.

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