Sally Bradley is on the blog today!!! She is super sweet, super talented and super fun to talk to!
Sally Bradley writes big-city fiction with real issues and real hope.
A Chicagoan since age five, Sally has been fascinated by all things Chicago (except for the crime, politics, and traffic) for almost as long. She now lives in the Kansas City area with her family, but they get back to Chicago from time to time for important things, like good pizza and a White Sox game.
A freelance fiction editor and former president of her local writing chapter, Sally has won a handful of awards for Kept and another work-in-progress. Connect with Sally on Twitter at @SallyBWrites, and at Sally Bradley, Writer on Facebook.
Laura Frantz calls Sally’s debut novel Kept “gutsy and fast-paced…With keen insight into human nature and the tangled relationships of our times”. Heather Gilbert compares it to Francine Rivers’ classic Redeeming Love and said Kept is “a shining beacon of how very relevant Christian fiction can be.” Ane Mulligan called it one of the top ten books she’s ever read, and MaryLu Tyndall praised it as “a refreshing change to the normal Christian fare”.
Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago’s lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman.
Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father’s sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can’t help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she’s longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again.
When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes that her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who’s gone too far and done too much.
When baseball star Mike Connor stumbles across his ex-wife six years after their divorce, he’s stunned to find that she’s the mother of a kindergartner who wears his jersey. And shares his last name.
The last thing Meg Connor wants is to be around Mike. After all, he was the one who abandoned her. But she can’t deny him—or their son—time together to build a relationship, which means Mike is around too often, reminding her of why she fell in love with him so long ago. If only she could forget their past… The painful and the good.
Between their guilt and closely held hurts, Meg and Mike struggle against each other, their feelings, and God as they fight their own desires for the future, a future that might never happen when the past that tore them apart collides with their present.
Welcome to the blog, Sally!! I start everyone out with a “fast four”. Ready or not…
Sally: Apples if they’re crunchy. I can’t handle the skin on oranges. Getting all of that off just isn’t worth the time involved. And I refuse to eat that part of the orange. So apples all the way.
Carrie: An apple MUST be crunchy. This is key.
Sally: I really do love both. I went to college in Florida and realized how much I need my seasons! But right now summer edges out winter only because I’m a homeschooling mom. 🙂 Enough said, right?
Carrie: I think moms everywhere are nodding their heads right now in agreement with you 🙂
Sally: Dogs! They’re so loving and fun. We don’t have any, but I sure do enjoy dogs at other people’s homes. I get to make a friend and then leave the owner with all the work.
Carrie: Zuzu says she’d love to be your friend! Down with cats! 😉
Sally: Neither. Really. I can’t drink coffee, and I hate tea. So it’s water for me, pretty much. Thankfully I really like a glass of ice cold water, particularly this summer which has been so hot.
Carrie: I also don’t drink either one. But I don’t like water. I can tolerate it if it’s super ice cold. Sigh. I’m trying. lol.
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Sally: If I could give myself one? It would totally be to go without sleep! I’m a reluctant sleeper as it is. I’ve always fought going to bed (so much other stuff to do), and I pretty much despise naps. If I could stay up all night while everyone slept, just imagine how much writing I could get done! Or how much reading I could do. That would soooo be my superpower.
Carrie: oooo I want that one too! Think of all the books I could get caught up on reading!
I grew up in northern Illinois, and you’re a Chicagoan (who happens to currently be living elsewhere but that’s irrelevant). Pizza is sort-of sacred to those of us who hail from that area. First, what’s your favorite pizza? Second, which toppings would you NEVER allow on your pizza?
Sally: Pizza is definitely sacred! I’m a Lou Malnati’s girl. Completely. Loyally. Best pizza on earth.
So many people think that Chicago pizza is all dough, and that couldn’t be more wrong. Lou Malnati’s crust isn’t thick at all, somewhat comparable in thickness to a typical pizza, but it’s more like a pie crust. Just way more buttery and with a touch of cornmeal. So good!
As for toppings, it’s gotta be pepperoni and garlic. Can’t get enough of that! What doesn’t belong on pizza? Anchovies! And pineapple. Even green olives. Everything else I’m pretty much good with. As long as Lou’s makes it. 🙂 Even my characters agree with that.
Carrie: yummmm… now i want pizza. I really need to stop sending out these questions when I’m hungry haha!
Most writers I know are readers too. You’re also a fiction editor. So I must know – what are FIVE recent books that you adored?
Sally: I just finished Joanne Bischof’s The Lady and the Lionheart, and it was phenomenal. Best book of 2016. Really. She just gets better and better with each book. I did not want that book to end, and I don’t typically feel that way because there’s always other books to read, you know? But I hated the thought of leaving Charlie and Ella’s world. So good!
Brandy Vallance’s Within the Veil is fabulous too. It’s right up there with The Lady and the Lionheart. I couldn’t read this one fast enough either!
I’m finding it interesting that most of my favorite reads this summer are historical since I write contemporary, but my one contemporary book of the five is Kara Isaac’s Close to You. I adored everything about this book—the hero and heroine, their reasons for not liking each other, their motivations for what they were doing, and their struggles. Just an excellent book.
Then there’s Connilynn Cossette’s Counted with the Stars. I loved how it was the story of the plagues without Moses. That was a very nice twist on Biblical fiction, and I’m really looking forward to her next book. It’s coming soon, I think. My last favorite read would be Laura Frantz’s The Mistress of Tall Acre. Laura always does an incredible job capturing her era and difficult scenarios and emotions. Loved that book!
Carrie: Oh my goodness, yes! I wholeheartedly agree with your comments on The Lady & The Lionheart (#CharlieLionhearthasmyheart) and Within The Veil and The Mistress of Tall Acre!! LOVE those books – three faves of mine too. I have – shamefully – not read Close to You or Counted With the Stars yet… YET. They are both on my must-read-soon list and now I am even more anxious to must-read-them-soon.
You write “big-city fiction with real issues and real hope” (which I love!). As far as big cities, where would you most like to visit? Are there any on your bucket list?
Sally: I am always a sucker for Chicago! Even though I’ve lived the majority of my life in the suburbs, there are still so many things I’d like to do and see. So Chicago really would be at the top of my list.
But then there’s Seattle, Philly, Boston. I’d love to do London, but I’d just have to pair it with a good month or two to take in all of England, right? I’ve always wanted to see some of the big cities in Europe, but man, that dream is kinda fading right now. Which is sad.
Carrie: Chicago is one of my very favorite places in the world, but I would love to visit the United Kingdom and mainland Europe some day too.
Your latest novel Homestands, which releases in September, is about a divorced couple with some pretty major issues. Without giving away any spoilers, how is hope important to the story?
Sally: This is an interesting question because I don’t think hope is an issue one of the main characters deals with. But Mike, the book’s hero, is hoping to reunite with his ex-wife in order to find happiness again, to finally have the family he’s always longed for. He’s also hoping that getting back with her will finally get rid of the guilt he struggles so much with.
So for him, hope is huge. He has all these hopes about how he can fix his life, and yet he’s so wrong on what is going to make him happy. That hope, though, is what keeps him going, keeps him trying when nothing works with his ex-wife—and it’s what leads him to find real hope in God that eventually changes both of them.
Carrie: I love that. Sometimes realizing that what we’ve put our hope in is hopeless leads us to that real hope we find in God.
Let’s talk about characters for a moment. In Homestands, which character was the most fun to write and which was the most challenging? And… if I can throw one more question in – which character do you hope stays with readers long after they’ve finished Homestands?
Sally: Most fun to write? Mike, the hero, by far! I really enjoy (hopefully successfully) getting into the male point of view. Men just think and behave so differently than we women do, and as the book went on and Mike got more and more frustrated with Meg, his ex-wife, I enjoyed hearing his frustration come out in his mind, seeing his outgoing, happy personality be affected by the trouble with her. He became more and more complex and real to me, and I think that’s due to his character growth. In the beginning, he’s a guy who seems to have everything go his way. But when Meg doesn’t fall for him again and he’s forced to look at who he really is and how he’s treated her, he begins to change. I really enjoyed all the layers in that process.
Meg was a little more challenging. She’d been deeply, horribly hurt and she just wasn’t falling for Mike’s charms (even though I was). She keeps pushing him back, and I had a hard time liking her at times because of it. That being said, I’m hearing from readers that they like Meg, even more than they like Mike. Which is a relief. I think she’s very real, and we women can relate to the hurts she’s facing. We get why she’s not willing to let Mike back into her heart.
The character that I hope stays with readers? I think I’d have to say it’s both Meg and Mike at the end of the book—who they’ve both become. I adore this book’s ending, and it shows how much they’ve changed. And it isn’t that they changed themselves; they finally submitted to God and followed Him. That was what turned them into a couple who could have a true second chance at happiness together.
Carrie: Oh, I can’t wait to read this book!! It sounds like one of those books I’m not going to be able to put down.
Sally – again, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! Now that you’ve been here, I expect you to come back 😉 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Sally: I’m working on Shelf Life, book two in the Chicago Wind series, which has twice been a finalist in ACFW’s Genesis contest. It’s about a newly saved Christian who’s struggling in her marriage to an unsaved, out-of-work baseball player who wants nothing to do with God. It deals with a ton of marriage issues we women totally get, and I do think it’ll have that big, book-club feel that Kept has. Homestands will have a sneak peek of Shelf Life at the back.
Thank you, Carrie!
Carrie: Shelf Life is going on my must-read list now too! 🙂
What about you, my dear readers? What’s YOUR favorite pizza?