Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Say hello to....Laura Bradford!

My guest today is author Laura Bradford!

Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey) has wanted to be a writer since she was ten years old. Today, she is the author of several mystery series, and a handful of romance novels. She is a former Agatha Award nominee and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award.  SUSPENDERED SENTENCE is her twentieth traditionally-published release. In her free time, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, playing games, and catching up with friends.

Twitter:  @bradfordauthor

     Welcome to the blog Laura! Tell us a little about your background – what got you interested in writing as a career? 

~I was ten years old when I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I never strayed from that path. In the beginning, I thought I’d go toward children’s writing, but in the end, when I really looked at what I enjoyed reading, I went the route of mystery.

To pay the bills out of college, I worked as journalist, but once I left that world to be a mom, I started getting serious about that fiction-writing dream.

    As Laura Bradford, you write the Amish Mystery series; As Elizabeth Lynn Casey, you write the Southern Sewing Circle mysteries.  How did both those diverse series come about?

~The Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries is an in-house series for Berkley Prime Crime which explains the pen-name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey (a mash up of my daughters’ middle names and a nod to my grandparents all in one place). Honestly, when my agent first proposed this series to me in 2008, I almost didn’t submit a proposal. I didn’t sew, so I didn’t think I could write them.  But that little voice inside my head, urged me to try it…to make it my own. And so I steered the proposal toward the socialization aspect of a sewing group more than the sewing, itself and it paid off.  WEDDING DURESS, the 10th book in the series, just released last month. And two more books in the series are in the works.

The Amish Mysteries (written under my real name, Laura Bradford) is really a personal nod to my love of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was always fascinated with the simple life. With my Amish Mysteries, I can explore that “simple life” juxtaposed against a modern world. I love everything about writing this series—the research I do before each book, the characters, the chance to educate people about the Amish lifestyle, and so much more.  The Amish, by their very lifestyle, are almost ripe for the picking with crime, so they lend themselves well to cozy mysteries. Add in the fact that my book isn’t ruled by the constraints (or benefits) of today’s technology and I have a whole lot of fun with these books.

    Tell us about your latest book(s) – Suspendered Sentence and Wedding Duress.

~SUSPENDERED SENTENCE is the fourth book in my Amish Mysteries.  Here’s the way it came to me in my head and why I had to write it…

Nineteen years ago, Sadie Lehman simply up and disappeared during her Rumspringa in the Amish community of Heavenly, Pennsylvania. Led to believe Sadie had gotten caught up in the English world, the girl’s mother, Waneta, clung to hope that one day Sadie would come back.


Yet while Waneta prayed for a reunion, Sadie’s friends hoped for something very different—that Sadie’s body would never be discovered.

Gives you chills, doesn’t it? If you haven’t read SUSPENDERED SENTENCE yet, I hope you give it a try. It’s gotten some really fantastic reviews and my readers are already clamoring for the next book (due out in March 2016).

WEDDING DURESS is the 10th book in my Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey).  In this book, my series’ main character, Tori Sinclair is finally getting married to third grade teacher, Milo Wentworth.  The bridesmaid dresses are ready, the rings are ready, the vows are written, and there’s even a surprise bridal shower in the works. But before Tori can walk down the aisle, she must figure out who killed Beatrice’s childhood nanny.

     Do you sew in real life? What sort of hobbies do you have?

               ~I’m not a seamstress but I play one in books. J  As for hobbies, I love to bake, read, play games, decorate cakes, and travel.

     How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

~I always start out with some idea about each character, but their true essence is revealed to me in the writing process.  Sometimes I find the need to give them a particular nuance that I don’t understand at the time, but invariably the reason behind that nuance always reveals itself. Kind of weird, I know, but oh so cool when it happens!

     How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

~My plot always comes from a small nugget. In Suspendered Sentence, that initial nugget was the notion of a group of teenagers leading a family to believe their child had simply run away when they knew that wasn’t the case. The nugget always kicks off a series of questions in my head—questions I’m propelled to answer (why did they keep quiet? What really happened?). 

I always know the who and why behind the crime when I start. Everything else happens as I write. That said, I do utilize a bullet point system as I go. I’ll bullet-point out “have to happen” moments in each chapter, five chapters at a time. It’s not as constraining as an outline for me, yet still keeps me on task.

     Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

~I think they’re both important, however, in a series, if your readers don’t care about your characters, they won’t pick up the next book. 

     What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

~Tough question. Staying on task is always tough, but that’s internal so I can fix that when it becomes an issue.  I think the biggest challenge is finding ways to let readers know my books are out there. Social media is good, but the majority of people coming to an author’s page are coming because they already know about you and your books. The challenge is how to find more.

As for how I stay motivated, I’m a fairly motivated person to start with, so that helps. But at those times when I’m not, I think of the college tuition payments I have to make. Being accountable for daily word counts to my friend, Lynn, is a huge help, too.  

     Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?

~I was already a published author (small press) with an Agatha nomination and a book club deal when I got my agent. J

  What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

~I’m currently writing the second book in a brand new cozy series I have debuting in 2016. I’m not really sharing specifics about the series yet as it’s still too far away. But when we get a little closer, I’ll be talking about it on my website (www.laurabradford.com) and my Facebook Author Page.

~In terms of future plans, I’m hoping the Amish Mysteries get picked up for more books after # 5’s release in March 2016. I also have a thriller and a women’s fiction novel I’d like to spruce up and send out.

  What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

~A typical workday for me has me at the computer by 7 a.m. I spend about an hour on my blog, Facebook updates/viewing, Twitter, and email. Then I switch to writing. My goal, under normal circumstances, is 2,000 words a day. If I need more because I goofed off the day before, than I write more. But I don’t move until I accomplish what needs to be accomplished that day.  If the words are flowing and I’m done before noon—great.  If I find myself sucked back onto the internet during a time I should be writing, then I have less time later in the day for non-writing.

  If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?

~Oooh, fun question!   Since this is a writing retreat, I’m guessing I need to bring writing-related books?

I’m really not in to how-to books, so I’d pick ones I could consult for encouragement and inspiration;   Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, On Writing by Stephen King, and Mary Higgins Clark’s A CRY IN THE NIGHT because it’s the book that made me want to write mysteries.

  What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

~Read. Read. Read.

Write. Write. Write.

I see so many aspiring authors spending far more time reading how-to books on the craft of writing, than actually writing.  If you want to be an author, write.

  What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

~Early in my writing career, I took a woman (who’d emailed me about my first series) up on her offer to stay with her and her husband while touring. And I did it.  Looking back, I can’t believe how trusting (and probably stupid) I was to do that. But honestly, they couldn’t have been any nicer.

  What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?

~If I could no longer write for some reason, I would bake. Something about baking just makes me incredibly happy.

  What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)

~What’s a favorite memory from your journey as an author thus far?  My answer:  getting to speak to Mary Higgins Clark on the telephone—Harlan Coben’s telephone, to be exact.

  Where can we learn more about you and your books?

~You can learn more about me and my books by visiting my website: www.laurabradford.com.  There you can find all of the books I’ve written with links for more information on each title, a printable book list to make shopping easier, a fairly amusing bio (alongside the more official one), an event schedule, an opportunity to sign up for my several-times-a-year E-newsletter, and a super fun page devoted entirely to my Amish series (including a clickable map of Heavenly, PA, the town in which my series takes place).

In addition to my website, I have an active Facebook page that I frequent daily: https://www.facebook.com/laurabradfordauthor?ref=hl

And, finally, I’m on Twitter, although I’m not the best Tweeter:  @bradfordauthor   

Just for Fun:

Night or Day?     Day.

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)    Surely a dog snuck this question in when Rocco wasn’t looking, right?   CAT!!!    

Beach or Pool?    Beach

Steak or salad?    Steak

Favorite Drink?     A Vanilla milkshake

Favorite Book?     A Cry in the Night by Mary Higgins Clark (an oldie, but a goodie)

Favorite TV Series?    Survivor (been watching since the first show)

Favorite Movie?    27 Dresses

Favorite Actor:    Tom Hanks

Favorite Actress:    Meryl Streep  

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?    I’m more of a Mudslide girl (sans Vodka), myself.

Hawaii or Alaska?     Hawaii.

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Walt Disney. I’d like to thank him for creating the backdrop for some of my very favorite memories.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, I wouldn’t. Being mom to my two daughters is the most beautiful gift in the world.

Laura will give away a copy of Wedding Duress and a copy of Suspendered Sentence to two lucky commenters!  Just leave your choice of book and email address in the comments section below. Two winners will be chosen by random.org! 

For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

 * Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/

* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Contest ends midnight, May 22!   Good luck!


  1. I would love to win a copy of Suspendered Sentence...thanks. I follow your blog, tweeted, mentioned on Facebook, and am a friend on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

  2. I'd love to win a copy of either book - I haven't read either one yet. Thanks for the chance to win.

  3. Rocco, another winning interview! Well done.
    I'd be happy with either book.
    We are FB friends and I've linked this to FB
    I check the blog regularly
    I don't tweet or have a blog
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  4. I'd love Suspendered Sentence!

  5. Excellent interview, as always, Rocco. I've read two of Laura's Amish mysteries and loved both of them. I didn't realize hat she had another series, but I'm adding that to my list as well. Thank you for the chance to win this giveaway. We are friends on Facebook, I follow your blog as well as follow you on Twitter. ruthmazur46@gmail.com Ruth Lyons Mazur

  6. Great interview! I would love to read Suspendered Sentence! Thanks!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I would love to win a copy of either book, but I decided on Wedding Duress if I'm lucky enough to win. ruthmazur46@gmail.com - Ruth Lyons Mazur

  9. hallo laura :) i enjoy your post :)

  10. I would like to win Wedding Duress. I've already read Suspendered Sentence and it was great. I enjoyed the discussion on it that you did on Facebook too.

  11. Oh either book but if I had to choose...Wedding Duress. Thanks for the chance.

  12. Suspend erred Sentence please

  13. I would love Wedding Duress. grammyd01@comcast.net

  14. Thanks for the opportunity to win either book. They both look inviting. robeader53@yahoo.com

  15. A big thank you to Toni and Rocco for hosting me this week!!

    ~Laura Bradford (www.laurabradford)

  16. I'd like to win Wedding Duress. I follow your blog by GFC (Michelle Fidler), follow on Twitter, tweeted, liked your Facebook page, and mentioned the contest on Facebook.



  17. I read two of Laura's books from her Amish series - Hearse and Buggy and Shunned and Dangerous. Should I be lucky enough to win Suspended Sentence would be great . Thank you, Toni, Rocco and Laura for the chance to win this giveaway. We're friends on Facebook and I follow your blog, but I'm not on Twitter. j_mazur@msn.com

  18. I have to say that both of these books are two of the best I have been lucky enough to read this year. If you do not win them, buy them. They will not disappoint!! Thanks for a great interview, for a great site and thanks to Laura Bradford for being such an amazing author!