It’s Christmas In My Thoughts

By Laura Bradford

I’ve always been one to savor the moment we’re in. In October, I want to enjoy the fall colors and smells. In November, I start imagining Thanksgiving and all of the wonderful foods my family will enjoy at a table together. And on and on for each holiday, each month, each season.

But this year, I find myself looking ahead to Christmas a little earlier than I normally do. I suspect some of that is my mind trying to make sense of this crazy year, and my heart worrying about how beloved traditions might be impacted as a result. Some of my early Christmas thoughts might also be due to our upcoming release for Amish Christmas Miracles. Writing my story for the collection had me thinking about the holiday season back when temperatures were still in the nineties during the day.

In my appropriately titled story, The Christmas Program, Leah Miller (my main character) is busy getting her new classroom ready for the annual tradition. She’s hanging homemade decorations, planning what treats to bring, and helping her students prepare for the poems and skits they will share with their families on the big day. Yes, the actual program, itself, is what she’s gearing up to, but preparing for it is fun, as well.

A tease for my story in the Christmas collection, The Christmas Program

That’s how I feel about the weeks leading up to Christmas. Yes, it’s all about Christ’s birth, but preparing for that celebration and the time with family is special in and of itself, as well.

My favorite part of the lead-up is decorating. There are so many special decorations that tug at my heart when I first unpack them from their container each year. The tree skirt I made 30 years ago… The ceramic caroler candle holder I made 25 years ago… The ceramic plate with the nativity scene that my youngest (now 22) painted when she was a little girl… The Fisher Price nativity set we still put up (in addition to our more grown-up one) each year… And let’s not get me started on the ornaments. So many precious keepsakes tied to the kids…

One of the many, many special-to-me ornaments on my tree

Next, comes the annual baking flurry.  I make my homemade fudge (my youngest daughter’s favorite), my white chocolate mousse pastry puffs (my husband’s favorite), my hot cocoa bar with all the best fixings (everyone enjoys this), and, of course, our iced sugar cookies (my oldest daughter’s favorite). And seeing everyone’s reaction to them? That’s my favorite part.

My White Chocolate Mousse Pastry Puffs

And then there’s the music. Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, Mary Did You Know

I know. It’s only October. But that’s what our Amish Christmas Miracles Collection is doing to me this year. It’s jettisoning me into the Christmas season. And after the year we’ve all had, I’m glad. Because truly, this is going to be a wonderful collection of stories in which to escape starting November 10.

Blessings,
Laura

***

About Laura

Laura Bradford is the national bestselling author of more than 35 books and stories, including the just-released novel,Piece by Piece. Her first women’s fiction novel, Portrait of a Sister, was a July 2018 Book Club Pick for Delilah of Delilah Radio and a Summer Book Club pick for Southern Lady Magazine.

Laura also pens several mystery series including; An Amish Mystery series, the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Tobi Tobias Mysteries, the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey), and the upcoming A Friend For Hire Mysteries. She is a former Agatha Award nominee, and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. Laura enjoys baking, spending time with her family, and being an advocate for those living with multiple sclerosis.  Learn more at: https://www.laurabradford.com/

On social media, you can…

Sign up for my once-in-a-while newsletter at: https://www.laurabradford.com/contact

“Like” me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/laurabradfordauthor/

Follow me on Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2VmI9Y8

Follow me on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/laura-bradford

Follow me on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3ethm3I

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurabradfordauthor/

Follow me on Twitter: @bradfordauthor

Different, But the Same

Different, But the Same
By Laura Bradford

While I’ve always been drawn to the Amish way of life—one rooted in faith, family, and tradition—I never knew just how fully it would speak to me until I began writing my popular An Amish Mystery series with Penguin/Random House. From the first words of that first book, I loved every moment I spent researching, and writing about, the Amish. It was important to me to debunk myths about the Amish—myths that, too often, are born on ignorance or simply a displeasure for anything different than what is seen as “normal.”

In that cozy mystery series, I created a cast of characters—both Amish and English—my readers came to love every bit as much as I did. They were people they came to care about. Because in those books, in addition to learning about the Amish ways in Lancaster County, readers came to see these people as…people. Just like you. Just like me.

They may dress differently…

They may live differently…

They may work differently…

But beneath all of those surface differences, they smile, and they cry, and they hurt, and they love. Just like us.

The main male character in my mystery series is former Amish. He left after baptism to become a cop. When the series opens, he’s just returned to Lancaster County after nearly seventeen years away. He’s come back because he wants to at least see his family, to know that they’re safe and well.  As the series progresses, we see the pain he feels over the loss of those relationships—a pain that brought an added depth to these books and strengthened the reader/character relationship.

Still, as it is a mystery first, I can only delve so deeply.

Which is why, in 2018, I took my love of writing Amish into the world of women’s fiction.  In women’s fiction, unlike in romance and mystery, the primary focus of the story is on the main character’s life journey. It may be a journey of reflection, or forgiveness, or understanding, or choices, but it’s all about that character (or characters).

In my 2018 release, Portrait of a Sister, I examined choices and being true to one’s self via a set of identical twins—one who was baptized, one who opted to live an English life.

In my 2019 release, A Daughter’s Truth, I looked at forgiveness via a 22 year old Amish girl who stumbles across a truth she wasn’t supposed to know. It’s a story as much about learning to forgive, as it is about belonging.

In my just released 2020 novel, Piece by Piece, I look at grief and healing, and finding light amid the darkness. In this story, Danielle Parker has suffered unimaginable loss—the kind of loss that can bring a person to their knees and leave them feeling utterly hopeless.  But God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t he? And it is through a childhood friend turned pen-pal, Lydia Schlabach that Danielle begins to find hope amid the darkness. It is a story about those angels-on-earth God puts in our path and how, through them—and HIM—we can keep living.

I love telling stories about people we can all identify with in some way (be it a shared journey, or our ability to feel empathy for others) and feeling as if I’ve made people think. About their own heart… Their own priorities…

****

Up Next For Me

In advance of the release of our Amish Christmas Miracles Collection in November, I thought I’d share a little peek into my short story, The Christmas Program with all of you…

Visit Amish country for one of the most beloved traditions of the holiday season with national bestselling author, Laura Bradford

In the blink of an eye, Leah Miller has gone from assistant teaching in her own district, to being the sole teacher in an unfamiliar classroom, just days before the students’ annual Christmas program. Now, in addition to learning names and preparing lessons, Leah must also make sure the schoolhouse is decorated and the children have learned the many songs, poems, and skits that are such a treasured part of the Christmas season in Amish country. It’s an exciting time for Leah and all of her students…except one.

With the help of Wes Hostetler, a kind and handsome stranger who well remembers the Christmas programs of his own youth, Leah tries everything she can to help soothe little Emily Mast’s fears. But will it be enough to make a difference, or will yet another unexpected wrinkle make it so Leah is the first teacher in the district’s history forced to cancel the beloved tradition?

****

About Laura

Laura Bradford is the national bestselling author of more than 35 books and stories, including the just-released novel,Piece by Piece. Her first women’s fiction novel, Portrait of a Sister, was a July 2018 Book Club Pick for Delilah of Delilah Radio and a Summer Book Club pick for Southern Lady Magazine.​

Laura also pens several mystery series including; An Amish Mystery series, the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Tobi Tobias Mysteries, the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey), and the upcoming A Friend For Hire Mysteries. She is a former Agatha Award nominee, and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. Laura enjoys baking, spending time with her family, and being an advocate for those living with multiple sclerosis.  Learn more at: https://www.laurabradford.com/

****

On social media, you can…

Sign up for my once-in-a-while newsletter at: https://www.laurabradford.com/contact

“Like” me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/laurabradfordauthor/

Follow me on Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2VmI9Y8

Follow me on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/laura-bradford

Follow me on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3ethm3I

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurabradfordauthor/

Follow me on Twitter: @bradfordauthor

If you’d like to receive a bookmark like the one below, send a SASE business-sized envelope to:
Laura Bradford
PO Box 1451
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598