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 Sister’s 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.