I’m so pleased to have author Sally Bradley visiting today. This gal is an exceptional writer, a sweet friend, and her novel, Kept, has generated all kinds of buzz over the past few months (and this is before its recent release!). I was blessed to be an early reader on this one, and this was my endorsement:
“Vibrant characters, compelling questions, modern-day issues… Kept is a contemporary Christian classic along the lines of Redeeming Love. Impossible to put down, this story pulls us into the heart of Chicago and shows us how God’s hand can work, even when we repeatedly make the wrong choices. Sally Bradley’s voice is gripping and clear, and her debut is a shining beacon of how very relevant Christian fiction can be.”
Sally has graciously agreed to give away one e-book copy of Kept to a random winner! Will post the Rafflecopter sign-up below!
Sally Bradley writes big-city fiction with real issues and real hope. A Chicagoan since age five, she now lives in the Kansas City area with her family, but they still get back to Chicago once in a while for important things—like good pizza and a White Sox game. Fiction has been her passion since childhood, and she’s thrilled now to be writing books that not only entertain, but point back to Christ. You can find her at sallybradley.com and on her Facebook page, Sally Bradley, Writer. Kept is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
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.
Interview with Author Sally Bradley
HG: First of all, I need to know: how many contests has your novel Kept placed in/won? Please spill it! Also, do you think those contests have helped you in any way? Would you recommend entering contests?
SB: Kept has done really well in contests, and I’m so thankful for that. It won two RWA chapter contests (Duel on the Delta and Great Expectations), Category 5 (an ACFW chapter contest), and Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad contest (General Fiction). It’s finaled twice in ACFW’s Genesis and didn’t win the first time. Second time is still to be determined! And in all fairness, there was one contest that Kept didn’t final in.
Did the contests help me? Absolutely! If I were to line up my score sheets in order, you’d see that the scores improved with each one because I listened to their feedback, applied it, and submitted to another contest. It also helped me differentiate between what was opinion and what was a real problem. So I’m glad I took a year and submitted so much.
I think if you’re going to do contests, you should do a bunch. That way the odds are better of getting helpful feedback. If you enter one contest, you could get a clueless judge or two. That does happen. But when you enter four or five contests, you’re likely to have more judges who know what they’re talking about.
HG: You have chosen to publish your book independently, even though you’ve worked for two different publishers (in different departments). What kind of factors played into this decision?
SB: From the very beginning I believed in Kept as a story that had a lot of potential to reach hurting women. It kept getting classified as edgy, which I disagree with. Because today’s publishing climate is so risk averse, no one would touch it, even though I got all kinds of compliments on my writing and storytelling skills. Indie publishing had been a real option for a couple years by then, and I’d been praying about which direction should go. Traditional publishing doors closed at the same time that I decided indie publishing was the better option for Kept, anyway. So I ended up indie publishing and being glad about it, not doing it as a second-best option (Click to Tweet).
HG: As you know, I read and loved Kept. Sometimes I get so HUNGRY for a well-written contemporary novel that sweeps me right up into it, and your novel delivered. I felt like I knew more about Chicago from reading it (and now I struggle with a relentless craving for deep-dish pizza!). Please share why you chose this locale for your novel.
SB: Because it was what I knew and loved. I grew up outside Chicago, and for whatever reason, that city just has a hold on me. It’s beautiful, it’s full of life and beauty, it has so much to offer—but there’s so much brokenness too. Just like there is across our country.
When I came up with the idea—a woman who’s kept by a professional athlete—I knew the story called for a luxury setting. And I’d been eying that part of Chicago and the historic high rises right on the edge of Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, and the lakefront. It’s not your usual Chicago setting, which I liked too. So the setting and my love for Chicago and desire to show people the beauty Chicago does have (plus the good food!) combined to make that the perfect place for Kept to unfold.
HG: Kept also doesn’t shy away from heavier issues, like modesty in dress or struggles with promiscuity. Yet you handled everything in a tasteful manner, and pulled us back time and time again to the biblical view on these things. Describe your target reader to me–what does he/she look like and enjoy? (I know I’m one of them!).
SB: I imagine my audience to be women between college years and mid-forties. I know I already have readers in their fifties and beyond, so clearly it’s just a guess on age. I think what probably matters most is that they’re women who want a read that’s deep and gripping. The city, to them, isn’t a disgusting, dirty thing but something that can hold beauty and good times—and I don’t mean that in a bad way. They’ve probably spent some time of their life outside a big city or in a city. I think they’d be women who are highly relational and would enjoy really chewing things over with other female friends.
I could be totally wrong there! I’d love to hear what you think, but that’s my best guess.
HG: I think our audience does find us, and sometimes it’s not who we plan on! But there does seem to be a majority reader demographic we’re shooting for when writing…and I find it often looks a lot like me, since I write what I want to read! Soo…do you have plans for a series? How long does it take for you to complete a book, have it edited/formatted and get your cover art?
SB: I do have the very beginnings of an sequel to Kept, but it’s just a seedling right now. I haven’t started it. I hope to be faster in the future, but I do work as a freelance fiction editor and homeschool in the mornings. So I don’t have the option of working fulltime on fiction like I’d like to.
Getting Kept out there has really whet my appetite to write more and share more stories with people. So I’d like to think that this next book will go faster, but somehow I doubt it. If I could have another book out by next summer, I’d be thrilled.
Editing is what takes me the longest. I would guess I did ten passes through Kept, and sometimes there’s a line or paragraph or scene that you just wrestle with for an entire day. Or days. Thankfully that’s not the norm, but editing is so crucial, and little changes in words can make a huge difference. Sometimes I worry that I’m being a perfectionist and unrealistic, but when I hear that a specific scene has moved someone how I wanted it to, I’m okay with the time spent.
HG: I hear ya on the homeschooling thing. Hard to concentrate on writing sometimes! Also, speaking of cover art, I love the cover of Kept. Tell us what elements you knew you wanted in it.
SB: It is so beautiful, isn’t it? I came up with the concept, but I certainly could never have executed it!
My original concept was to show the back of a woman at a window, looking down at Buckingham Fountain. My designer changed that to a side profile, and I think he was completely right with that choice. No face would have been weaker.
I’d also wanted to show the hero on the cover in some way and asked if he could show a bit of a man’s reflection in the window, to give the idea that there was a man behind her. But he left that out—and again I think he was right. It would have been too much. I love, though, how he found a woman who really does look like Miska and how he captured a pensive, longing look. And Buckingham Fountain is an important element to the story, so I wanted it there with the water spraying high into the air.
HG: Thanks again for visiting, Sally, and looking forward to your next one!
SB: Thank you for having me, Heather. I really enjoyed your questions.