Friday, December 3, 2010

Morning Coffee Dates with Friends

My guest is award winning women's fiction author, Marilyn Brant. I love that she could visit on a Friday.

I like stories that deal with issues, concerns and worries that face me as a woman and those issues are different than when I was a young and barely twenty something. I also enjoy humor and the ability to laugh at both myself and situations I face. As I've grown up, I find girlfriends are all the more precious. I need that commonality of shared experiences, laughter, and grounding that true friends give you (and their opinions)--whether you want it or not, lol!

So, as you can imagine, I like Marilyn's books and really enjoyed her article. I hope you will too.

I'm thrilled to be back visiting Sia and everyone here today! I was lucky enough to be here the first time after the release of my debut novel, According to Jane, but I'm especially excited to visit again this fall...on a Friday...and to get to discuss the subject of friends and relationships with you all Over Coffee. It's particularly fun for me because my second novel, called Friday Mornings at Nine, is about three women friends who get together once a week (bet you can guess which day -- LOL) over coffee (!!) to talk about their relationships. So, this is one of those cool 'virtual life' meets 'real life' meets 'writing life' kinds of moments!

Anyway, one of the reasons I wrote this novel was to explore the idea of What-If relationships, even for women who might be (or seem to be) happy with their current ones. The three women in my story are 40-something suburban moms who have all been married for a decade or two. They think they know what their friends' marriages are like but, it turns out, they have a lot to learn -- not only about each other, but about their spouses and themselves. Complicating matters are three other men (not these women's husbands!) whom my main characters are becoming increasingly more aware of and, at times, attracted to... Bridget admires the warmth and cooking skill of her boss, a dentist in the office where she works. Tamara is noticing the divorced (younger) neighbor guy down the street who works from home. And Jennifer has been reconnecting with her college ex-boyfriend via text message and email because he'd contacted her about an upcoming reunion. All of them begin to wonder -- in light of their attraction to these other people -- if they made the right decision in marrying the man they did.

In real life, I also meet my friends for coffee once every week or so and we, too, discuss our families, jobs and lives. Over the years, one of the things I've noticed is that my friends not only help me sort through whatever ups and downs might be going on somewhere in my world, but they've frequently provided a sounding board for any What-If relationship scenarios that may come up, including: old flames who suddenly resurface via Facebook (!!) or that really handsome fitness trainer at the gym or my longstanding obsession with Ryan Reynolds and his REALLY great abs. (C'mon, who here doesn't have a bit of a celebrity crush on him?!)

For me, I've found that hearing what my friends have to say during our coffee dates is incredibly valuable because it reaffirms that -- most of the time, at least -- what I'm experiencing is something normal. And listening to my friends talk about whatever issues they might be wrestling with in their lives is just as helpful. I learn a lot from them about how to handle situations I haven't yet encountered myself, or I simply get to know more about my friends' lives and beliefs and passions, which is fascinating. During this time of year I'm especially thankful for them...for always being there when I need them, for helping me stay grounded/calm in the face of good or bad news, and for always making our outings such fun!

  • What about you? Do you have a group of friends you get together with regularly? If so, where do you like to meet and what do you most enjoy talking about with them?

I'll draw one name randomly from all of the commenters below (on late Sunday night, 12/5) and give away a signed copy of Friday Mornings at Nine and an individual serving of Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend to one winner. Happy Holidays, everyone!!


Every woman remembers her firsts: Her first kiss. Her first lover. And her first time contemplating an affair...

Each Friday morning at the Indigo Moon Café, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara meet to swap stories about marriage, kids and work. But one day, spurred by recent e-mails from her college ex, Jennifer poses questions they've never faced before. What if they all married the wrong man? What if they're living the wrong life? And what would happen if, just once, they gave in to temptation...

Soon each woman is second-guessing the choices she's made--and the ones she can unmake--as she becomes aware of new opportunities around every corner, from attentive colleagues and sexy neighbors to flirtatious past lovers. And as fantasies blur with real life, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara begin to realize how little they know about each other, their marriages and themselves, and how much there is to gain--and lose--when you step outside the rules. EXCERPT

Marilyn is the award-winning women's fiction author of ACCORDING TO JANE (2009), FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE (2010) and her upcoming novel, A SUMMER IN EUROPE (November 29, 2011), all from Kensington Books.

She received her M.A. in educational psychology from Loyola University Chicago, dabbled in both fiction and art at Northwestern University, studied the works of Austen at Oxford University and is an active member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Her debut novel featuring "Jane" won the Romance Writers of America's prestigious Golden Heart® Award.

Marilyn has traveled to 45 states and over 30 countries (so far -- she's not done yet!), but she now lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family. When she isn't rereading Jane's books or enjoying the latest releases by her writer friends, she's working on her next novel, eating chocolate indiscriminately and hiding from the laundry.
Brandt Flakes, Marilyn's Blog


~Sia McKye~ said...


Welcome back to OVER COFFEE. That would be FRIDAY, OVER COFFEE, LOLOL!

I'm ordering this one tomorrow. I like the sound of it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. and Marilyn .. interesting take on family life .. which could so easily upset the applecart. I'd hate to stir the pot .. a fun read - and Marilyn've certainly been places!

Enjoy the weekend .. Hilary

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Wow - FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE sounds like just my kind of book! Especially in light of the fact that I have been kicking around a story idea along these same lines myself, after having had a number of heart-to-heart conversations with friends in the last few months.

I live far enough away that I don't get to have a regular sit-down date with my best friends, but we email frequently and talk on the phone when we can. The absolute best is when we can get together in person, but it is usually over a bottle of wine, not coffee ;)

Judy Croome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judy Croome said...

(Ooops! Sorry. a gremlin crept in there!)

I used to be with friends all the time, and would talk about everything, but as I've got older an have more responsibilities, I seem to be developing into a bit of a loner, chosing rare moments of solitude rather than rare moments of coffee and friends. But I do keep in touch a lot with social media and email and sms. (thank heavens for technology!)

Lovely interview. And lovely picture of Scot in kilt in the side bar!
Judy(South Africa)

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi Marilyn!! I meet with authors Heather Webber, Shelley Shepard Grey (Shelley Galloway) and Cathy Liggett every other Friday for breakfast, crits, and fun. It's something I always look forward to.

Marilyn Brant said...

Sia, thank you!!!! xoxo

Hilary, I *love* to travel, although I haven't done as much of it in recent years. My husband and I spent a lot of our vacation time backpacking when we were first married, which was great fun and gave us a lot of shared memories...

Jenyfer, oh, there's nothing wrong with wine for gatherings, either!! (When my friends and I get together, it's often mid-morning, but those evening meetings... ;)

Judy, I love that Scot, too!! Thanks for visiting me here and, also, for your comment about solitude. I think, esp. for writers, there's nothing like that feeling of reconnection with ourselves when we're alone. Sometimes, amidst the chaos of family life, I crave it just so I can get to the end of one thought without being interrupted...

Tonya, hello!! Oh, your gathering sounds like GREAT fun. Glad you get to combine friend time with sharing writing, too ;).

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia, Hi Marilyn,

I love it when two of my favorite people are in the same spot. Marilyn, I loved this book and your first. Big fun!

Sia, I would meet with you over coffee anytime if I lived closer... I think we'd have a blast.


Marilyn Brant said...

Hi, Nancy!!! Love seeing you here...thank you :). And I'd totally want to crash your coffee get together with Sia! If I bring brownies, may I come, too?

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

~Sia McKye~ said...

lol! Well, the two of you are relatively close. Nan is only 3 hours from me but Chicago is 6 hours. Maybe in the Spring we can find a mutual meeting spot. You're right, it would be a blast--with or without brownies.

VA said...

I grew up a tomboy, so I don't have easy, automatic relationships with women. I've had some very close friends over the years, but life is very mobile nowadays and we've gone separate ways. Presently without confidants, but since I'm inherently a loner it is not a strain.

The excerpt is delightful, Marilyn. The synergy between the three is almost palpable. Btw. congratulations on the accolades for your first novel; it must have been extremely satisfying.

aries18 said...

I didn't have lot of girlfriends when I was younger and after getting married I had none. They were tough times. In the last 10 years I had a group that met every Thursdays for lunch. It was so wonderful to chat with girlfriends about our lives. Then one friend died and the other moved away and I got married again. So at the moment I don't have that girlfriend connection and I miss it a bit. But I'm mostly a loner so it's not a huge hole in my life, except at times like this when I read about girls together.

This book sounds like lots of fun. I'm adding it to my TBR list.

Jo said...

Most of my meets are with my fairly wide bunch of cyber friends. Most of whom are interested in cooking and food which is how we ended up meeting. Locally, we have dinner parties.

debbie h said...

The book is very high on my TBR pile, I don't have a kaufee klutch to call my own, but am envious of those who do, sounds like it may lead to trouble in some cases, I can't wait to read it probably over the weekend but would love to have a autographed copy

Marilyn Brant said...

*Ack! I responded to the most recent comments last night, but they didn't show up! Trying again... ;)*

Sia, thank you!! That would be fun ;).

VA, thanks so much for your kind words and congrats -- I'm thrilled you enjoyed the excerpt! (Sending you a hug of gratitude from Chicago. :)

Aries18, there were long periods of time for me, too, when I didn't have close girlfriends. Being independent, I didn't mind, but it would be harder to lose these friends now. I imagine it must have been incredibly difficult when your good friend passed away. I'm so sorry to hear about that, but glad to know you all got to spend ten wonderful years together...

Jo, I love that you and your friends are into cooking! That must make for some really fun (and delicious ;) gatherings!!

Deb, thank you so much for your interest in the story! I truly hope you'll like it. In the case of my real-life friends, our conversations are not very racy (at least not often!), and I think we try to be the voices of reason for each other. My characters, on the other hand...well, I don't think they are nearly so helpful to each other. You're right about their conversations leading to trouble!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! I'll check in again tomorrow before doing the random drawing tomorrow night. I'm so delight you all took time to visit -- thank you!!

~Sia McKye~ said...

*creaking and stretching cramped everything. Been deep in writing mode. Believe it or not, I haven't been on line all day. didn't mean to abandon you Marilyn.

Wanda, sorry about the friend dying. That's hard. While I am a loner I do enjoy my girlfriends. I don't get to meet with them like I wish I could but I do have some great regular phone chats with them. I have a few close friends here but most I left in California. Some remain in regular contact even after 13 years. Many are now Cyber friends. It's funny, I have made some close cyber friends too--some I've met in person some I haven't.

Marilyn, Amazon let me know my books have been shipped so I'll be reading this soon and I'm looking forward to it. :-)

Kat Sheridan said...

The book sounds just wonderful! And how great that you meet regularly with friends. When I was laid off last year, one of the things I discovered I missed most was the daily interaction with my co-workers who had become friends. I'd never realized how much we really shared with each other. We still get together for lunch now and then but it's not the same.

Thank goodness for my cyber friends, many of whom have become real flesh and blood friends. It's sometimes strange to think of being so close to someone I've never actually seen, but the friendships are just as strong as if we saw each other daily. And of course, I have my coffee every morning here with Sia!

Dana Fredsti said...

I love the sound of this one. I like reading books with heroines in my age range, for one reason... and I love the sound of it!

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, Sia, thank you so much for ordering the book! I really hope you'll like it. {hug!} And I envy you the writing time today. I just got home after a 4-hour-long event and have done none of my work at all...

Thanks, Kat! I have to agree with you about the joy of cyber friends. I had no idea when I started blogging a few years ago how much I'd come to love and appreciate my online pals and the community we've formed. It's been such a pleasure to get to meet some of them in person, too, and find they're just as warm and kind and funny in real life as they are in the blogosphere. Technology may bring with it some issues, but the gifts of this kind of connection are amazing to me ;).

Dana, I'm so glad the books sounds like something you might like! I have to tell you, when I first came up with the idea for the story, it was about 5-6 years ago and the heroines were older than me. Now, I'm definitely a peer of theirs -- LOL!

**I'll be back to do the drawing in a bit. If anyone who reads this hasn't commented yet and wants to be entered in the giveaway, you've still got a few hours ;-).**

Marilyn Brant said...

Okay, I'm back! I just did the selection and got "debby h" (Deb ;) -- congrats! Please email me at MarilynBrant(at)gmail(dot)com with your street address and I'll send you a signed copy of the book, along with a little coffee to try.

Sia, thank SO much for hosting me. It was a pleasure visiting you!!

And, everyone, Happy Holidays to you all. Thanks for being so welcoming! I hope if you see me around the web -- or in real life! -- you'll stop by to say hi ;-).

Anonymous said...

I'm the exact same way! My conversations with my sisters and close friends are always over coffee. I value their opinion so, so much....and I can't imagine not having them to lean on!

I'm in the middle of reading your book and I love it! :-)

Marilyn Brant said...

Brittany, I'm pretty sure coffee is a food group in our house ;). Thanks so much for visiting me here and for your comments on the book! I really hope you'll enjoy the second half, too!!