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Gifts by the Shore (Part 1) by Marilyn Brant — 47 Comments

  1. Just checking my e-mail before going off to bed and found this delightful gift…but will wait until I am fully awake with a cup of coffee to read it completely. The introduction makes it sound so full of intrigue about relationships and then….love after 40 – Wow! Can only think this is going to be a very good WIP. Thank you – makes Monday morning so worth getting up for now!

  2. I really enjoyed this beginning. I was caught up in it, took me a moment to resurface when I finished reading! I can’t comment on the realism of the sister dynamic from personal experience as I am also sisterless, but it seemed pretty real to me. I think it’s hard sometimes, particularly for same-sex siblings, there is an element of comparison that happens. I like their bond too.

    • Ceri, thanks so much for reading this and for your comments on the opening scenes! I’m delighted you enjoyed them 😉 . And, having watched my mom and her sisters my whole life, I agree with you on that element of comparison being ever-present in the family. It always seemed much more prevalent between the girls themselves than between the any one of the girls and their brothers. But I also noticed the sisters were much more involved with each other’s lives than the brothers’ were.

  3. Beautiful, Marilyn. After the sisters talked on the phone I had tears in my eyes (I do have an older sister, and it all rang very true to me!)

    This is lovely – so pleased you are busy writing another lovely story!

  4. Loved it, Marilyn! I’m very lucky to have a sister, and relationships between siblings make fascinating stories, I think. It’s a fabulous beginning!

    • Jane, thank you so much!!
      And, yes, they sibling relationship — in all of its variations! — is just fascinating. I’ve watched sister bonding only from the outside, but there’s a dynamic there that’s almost always powerful and intriguing. There are a lot of layers between my husband and his brother in their relationship, too, and I’m compelled by that as well. Families give us so much material to explore, don’t they?!
      😀

  5. Hi Marily, I love you story about sisters relationship, I have two sister, one is older then me two years, and the other is young then me two years, I can tell you, we have good relationship and also sometime bad relationship, now they all been married, and busy with their husband and childrens, we contacted each other less than few day, I always thinking about them and my nephews and nieces, I like the beautiful shell you show me.

    • Linda,
      Thank you for your lovely comments! I’m delighted you liked the story and the sister relationships 😉 .
      They are complicated, I know. I liked what you said about how sometimes they are good and other times they aren’t… I think many of us have experienced that, too!

  6. Keep going. I am intrigued and ready to read more. Gil’s images of the “Coast” (the Gulf is the best!) were so vivid and so true. Thanks for the great post.

    • Maggie,
      YAY! Glad you’re intrigued!! I have the first 100 pgs or so drafted, but there’s quite a bit to write still… I’m trying to work my way through it 🙂 . And I’m pleased you liked Gil’s description of the Gulf Coast — it’s one of my favorite places to visit. So beautiful!!

  7. I have more sisters than one girl needs. LOL My dad had a penchant for relationships and children. However, my younger sister and I grew up together and I can attest to the veracity of this first conversation. No matter how much we love each other, we always see things in the others life that we assume makes their life work perfectly or else we assume that they are a total bomb. Usually nothing in the middle LOL The WIP sounds lovely, and as a lover of all things beach…I was pulled in by Gil’s observations of color and shade. Looking forward to reading more!

    • Stephanie, thank you for your sweet comments about the story itself and for chiming in on the sister-to-sister relationship! I loved hearing about your experience. It’s that push/pull of great sisterly love contrasted with expectations/judgments that intrigues me so much in my friends and family members with sisters. It almost always seems different than the loving but rather laid-back bond my brother and I share. I think there’s just not the same level of expectation from others that he and I will be similar. And maybe because everyone else is always expecting us to be very different, my bro and I have focused our relationship through the decades on the ways we’re alike. (Even though, in truth, we ARE quite different, LOL.) Ah! Family is complicated 🙂 .

  8. You paint lovely pictures with your words. The photos are so beautiful – love the pearl in the shell (my birthstone).

    Yes, here I am with my second cup of coffee. I am left with a mood of anticipation. I have a sister who is younger by 13 months and am the mother of 2 girls, separated by 2 years, 7 months. My relationship with my sister is much like that portrayed in According to Jane – we hated each other growing up but are very close now even though we live in neighboring states. We share secrets and feelings that no one else would understand. But we are very different, as are my daughters – so your description of these sisters is consistent with my experience. Even with differences siblings share common backgrounds/histories so understand what, why and wherefore so much more than anyone else. That – even tho they may interpret it into their own personalities and lifestyles in very differing ways.

    I very much look forward to this. Obviously that is much about Gil we have not heard. His relationship with his father has a story worth hearing/reading of, it seems! Thank you for this and bring it on….LOL!

    • Oh, Sheila, many thanks for coming back to read the scenes…and bringing coffee, too!! (My caffeine fix from the morning has now worn off, and I need a second cup right about now as well!)
      Thanks for sharing what your relationship with your sister is like, and your daughters’ relationship as well. Fascinating that you and you sis were like Ellie and Diana in According to Jane!! (I *loved* writing about them as siblings and marking their growth through the years… I’m glad you and your sister grew so close as you both got older 🙂 .)
      I’m so glad you’re looking forward to more of the story…and, yes, Gil and his dad don’t exactly have a harmonious relationship! It may take more than one book to work out that mess, LOL.

    • Thank you so much, Abigail!
      I used to love to paint (not that I was very skilled at it, unfortunately!), but I poured my love of those stunning water/sky colors into Gil’s perceptions. My Midwestern eyes just couldn’t believe the sight of that amazing Gulf Coast beach when I first saw it… So beautiful. 😉

  9. The chapters kept me engaged, Marilyn. As for the sister relationship, I am an older sister, and have the same attitude as the elder here…except I hate multitasking. I tend to have very little patience with my younger sister. We are not close as she is mentally impaired, but she is still my sister. Looking forward to the continuation of this book. I love the Florida gulf and ocean, especially at sunrise and sunset.

    • LOL about the multitasking, Deborah!!
      Necessity has made me multitask more often than I’d like, but I’m not a huge fan of it either 😉 .
      I’m delighted the early part of the story kept you engaged — thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts! I hope you’ll like the next section as well. This novel is a bit of a love letter to the beauty of the Gulf Coast…I’m so glad you love the area, too!

      • Talking of multitasking – as a student in my late 40’s in El. Ed. we were tested for our own leaning/teaching characteristics. I am abstract/random – like to multitask, work well in groups, etc. I am reading three books, sorting embroidery floss, checking and responding to e-mails, etc. off and on during this day. Just back from running 4 errands, also.

        But I was praised for being “organized” while a caseworker – probably b/c the day was so random with various phone calls, visits in the field, people dropping in, training off and on, lots of paperwork on the computer, etc.

  10. I have a step sister and a half sister, both younger, but I didn’t see them much growing up, so I’m much closer to my sister in law than to them. Honestly, I don’t think I’d have liked growing up with another girl in the house – we probably would have killed each other. Or at least snatched each other bald lol. My mom has a younger sister and they’re opposites and get frustrated with each other quite often. I think there’s more comparison and competition between sisters, and if the older one seems to have all her stuff together (even if she really doesn’t) it sets a standard for a younger one to meet. It’s interesting watching my 2 nieces growing up, too; hoping they’ll be close when they’re older.

    I really loved Gil’s artist-eye observations of the beach. I think a lot of artistic people have that person in their life that says they should get a ‘real’ job, and that must be painful. I’m sure I’ve said before that I don’t read a lot of contemporary or chick-lit, but I *always* fall in love with your characters and relate to them (sometimes more than I want to!) and I expect this will be no exception. I like that Marianna will find love a bit later in life. 🙂

    • Monica,
      Just wanted to say that when I read this, I blew you an enormous air kiss from Illinois:
      “I’m sure I’ve said before that I don’t read a lot of contemporary or chick-lit, but I *always* fall in love with your characters and relate to them (sometimes more than I want to!) and I expect this will be no exception.”
      You made my night, Mon! Thank you 🙂 . xo
      As for the sister competition and comparison…sigh. I’ve seen a lot of that with relatives. I was also an exchange student in high school and spent a summer with a family who had 3 very thin daughters. The running competition between them regarding which of them weighed “the least” at any given moment was pretty disturbing to me, and I was glad not to have to deal with that kind of comparison long term. (Also, I would have lost, LOL. They were as obsessed with being skinny as I was with Jon Bon Jovi at the time!)

  11. My sister and I were as you described, Monica P. We nearly killed each other and very often had fistfuls of hair. How neither of us are bald, I have no clue. But, let someone else try to hurt her and all bets were off….Ibwas at them.

    • Deborah, I’m not sure if any of the sisters I know well ever pulled each other’s hair (wouldn’t put it past them!), but I do know some who slung insults at each other and, yet, wouldn’t let anyone else do the insulting ;).

  12. Sisters, relationships, lives turned upside down, just when they should be at the pinnacle. In this day and age there are very few of us that haven’t been hit in the face with at least one of these crisis of life.
    Sisters – I had the privilege of being the eldest sister, grandchild, cousin, and biggest type A+ out there. LOL The dynamics between sisters in our house ranged from hero worship, to towers of day long Barbie tales, to knock down drag out back stabbing plans to destroy you and your credibility with the parents. AUGH!!!!!
    We shared a big old double bed with a cotton tick mattress till we were in Junior High, then continued to share a room, with bunk beds till I left for college.
    Like your sisters, I continued in school, while my sister got married just before she graduated from high school…I swear for no other reason than she wanted to actually do something FIRST. LOL
    After almost forty years, we finally live within miles of each other again and are rediscovering our friendship, and jointly deal with the parents Lol, as they enter their super senior years.
    As the older sister, I also always felt it was my job to make sure that my younger sister (and brother) were safe, taken care of and had everything they needed, even before mine were. How many times are we, the older (oldest) thrown into the role of caretaker and that role follows us through life.
    Marilyn, for not having any sisters, geeze. As always, you rock. This is going to be soooooo good. 🙂

    • Karen,
      LOL about your sister getting married so she could do something first! 🙂 I’m the oldest child, too, so I guess — like you — I was used to having to be the responsible one. But the advantage was never having to feel as though I was in anybody else’s shadow. My kid brother complained a bit about having a few teachers who’d had me first and how he needed to deal with my academic record, but he was a pretty good student himself and a FAR, FAR superior athlete. So, in truth, I’m very lucky that I was out of high school before he entered it, or I would’ve heard, “Why can’t you run as fast as your brother?” or “How come you can’t play basketball/soccer/baseball/name the sport/etc. like your little bro?” To which I would have had to reply, “Because, you know, he’s an alien. Any further questions?!” 😀

  13. Thinking back, I have had the privilege of several trips to the gulf coast, from Galvaston, Tx to Buloxi, MX, to several trips to New Orleans over the years. Each locale offers a unique setting. But none of them have the pristine beauty of the beaches of south Florida, from what I have heard.
    The visual picture you painted of the beach scene, utilizing the painter’s pallet is wonderful. Okay…Miss overachiever here has her paint set… lol. But when you can start smelling the open tubes and visualizing the strokes of the blobs of color coloring the moving scene before you, WOW…
    Multitasking… Lolololololol world’s worst, but enrolled in the 12 step program. (Earlier this week, trying to write a review while keeping the 11 month old from dumping my coffee and keeping up with the 10 and 11 year old grandsons as they are working on home school on their laptops. Meanwhile, I have my DIL’s computer on the table next to me trying to figure out why I can’t get ABCmouse.com to com up and login so the 3 year old will work on his “school” so I can actually get something done. Oh, what? It’s time for lunch?

    • Loved your comments about the multitasking, Karen!
      And I’m so glad you liked the descriptions of the ocean and the beach life from Gil’s artistic point of view. I haven’t seen the Gulf from anywhere *other* than Florida, so I’d love to explore some of the places you’ve visited as well. But Sarasota will always have a special place in my heart. It’s truly lovely 😉 .

  14. What a wonderful start to the story. You pulled me right in. I don’t have a sister (always wanted one), but I can relate to the feeling of always feeling like you aren’t measuring up compared to someone else. I can’t wait to read about Marianna and Gil’s relationship as it develops, as well as Marianna finding herself.

    • TLeighF~
      Oh, YAY! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the beginning and felt pulled in by Marianna & Gil 🙂 . Thank you!!
      I’m working on writing more…I wish I were faster at first drafting (!!), but I’m very much enjoying getting to explore these different relationships!
      *hug*

  15. Very enjoyable excerpt, thank you! I’m also very intrigued by stories about sisters – I think those can be the most potent and special family relationships, but they can probably also be the most painful and difficult when there is conflict. I have a younger sister, and while growing up it was sometimes a struggle to get along, she is now one of my closest confidants. At least we certainly bond at the level of “Can you believe our relatives are that crazy???”

    Because of the fact that we’re genetically similar, I think the competition part is interesting — you would assume that at some basic level you’ve got the similar aptitude to achieve the same things so if you don’t both achieve something you both want, that might be hard to take. On the other hand, as a big sister, I’m genuinely happy for my sister’s accomplishments and want the best for her.

    I’ve never been to the Gulf coast! Now I’m intrigued!

    • Kathy,
      Thank you for your lovely comments and for sharing some of your thoughts and experiences on being a sister (and growing up with one!). I suspect you’re more than right about siblings bonding over the nuttiness of certain family members, LOL. Heaven knows, my family has provided my brother and me with a LOT of conversation over the years…and they’ve also given me some very “interesting” material for characters 😀 . I’m glad to hear that you and your sister have become close as the years have gone on. As I’ve seen with some friends of mine, that’s not always a given.
      As for the Gulf Coast — I think it’s gorgeous! I hope you’ll get to visit someday 😉 .

  16. Sisters. I have two sisters who are 3 and 4 years older than me. I once described the differences between us as the following: the eldest is bossy but sweet, the middle is brainy but no common sense and I’m the control freak with common sense. I’m closest with the eldest but both can drive me nuts at times and vice versa…remember I’m the control freak! Comparing the outcome of our lives does happen but I think it affects my middle sister more as she is divorced and was a single mom. Our road trips together are part comedy/part drama! And if I’m not the one driving the car, I’m a bit of back seat driver! We had a bit of a dysfunctional childhood which probably helped to keep us very close despite our geographical distances.

    Was down in Venice and Sarasota for the first time last October visiting with my sister who has a condo in Venice and where she lives for about 6 months of the year. She and her husband took me to Siesta Keys, Venice Beach, Nucomas (spelling?) and it was lovely. Loved Gil’s visualizing of the scenes. Can’t wait to read more of how they meet and Marianna’s new beginnings. Look forward to the 7th of October!

    • Carole,
      I had to laugh when you mentioned those “control freak” tendencies — I definitely fit in that category, too, and I have no sibling relationships to blame for them! My brother was born long after I’d already developed that characteristic 😉 .
      Thanks so much for your sweet comments about the story and for sharing your insights into sisterhood. I’ll bet your road trips with your big sisters are very memorable…and hopefully filled with more comedy than drama! As for Florida, Siesta Key is the area where my husband’s family used to go when he was a kid. I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting Sarasota/Venice/Sunshine Coast few times, but I fell immediately in love with it. How wonderful that you’ve gotten to stay there with your sis!!

  17. I loved the beach scene through an artist’s eyes. I always enjoy your writing.
    As for sisters, I have three. My mother used to say she had “six only children”, and I don’t see that we fell into a pattern. I was the youngest & liked observing. My sisters were very patient about my hanging around with them and their friends; this still seems particularly indulgent of them. Their payback comes now, as I can related anecdotes that they’ve long forgotten. I don’t think there was a competition among us, but my mother (in every other way the sweetest woman on earth) did tend to tell me of my sisters’ triumphs. Later I found out from the middle sister that SHE felt Mother was making comparisons in my favour, I agree with the common opinion that the siblings you argue with the most when young are the ones you’re closest to when you grow up, but we didn’t have many disagreements – we tended to look out for each other and help each other. One sister would go out on dates, order a big pizza, eat one piece and bring the rest home as a treat for us. BTW I have a friend whose sister was ten years older than she; their relationship was much as you’ve written. My friend lost this sister A, and most of her memories are of being told what to do or asked penetrating questions. She most regrets that A didn’t confide her own insecurities and confidences, my friend would have liked to have had that closeness and to have been able to help the sister through tough times – to be a friend and equal, instead of forever the little sister.

    • Beatrice,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the beach scene from Gil’s viewpoint, and thank you for your kind comments about my writing, too!
      As for what you said about your friend’s relationship with her sister — that she’d wished to be “a friend and equal” — I would imagine that would be the very best kind of relationship possible. I’m so sorry it didn’t happen that way for her… I’ve seen sisters who’ve managed to achieve that over time and their bond seems to be a true gift for both of them. It sounds as if you and your sisters have enjoyed a genuinely harmonious relationship over the years, though!! It’s really a testament to all of you that you’ve had relatively few disagreements and have been so considerate of each other. Truly wonderful! 😉

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  19. It’s definitely good, Marilyn. I feel the sisterly relationship is authentic and I understand the sentiments of both sisters. Behind Ellen’s seemingly perfect life, I’m hoping there is something troubling her because writing about a perfect person doesn’t make a good story. Though Marianna feels she cannot compare to her sister, I’m sure she will be happy and contented with life again. Gil Canton sounds mysterious to me and I want to know more about him.

    I’m off to read the second part now.

    • Lúthien,
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I loved getting to read all of your first impressions 😉 .
      And you’re right that Ellen doesn’t have a perfect life…it just seems that way to her kid sister. Looking forward to reading your comments about part 2!

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