Gratitude, Giveaways, Gifts by the Shore & More by Marilyn Brant — 59 Comments

  1. I am enjoying Gifts By the Shore so very much. Gil’s mom is funny to an outsider, and she had me chuckling at how annoying she is. I love your description of Nancy. You had me fooled at the beginning. I thought she was a human….say a younger reproachful sister. Your description of her tail made me think of black and strawberry licorice. :-)And your description of the meal made me hungry at 5am
    I could see and smell it.

    I love the cover on The Road and Beyond. Was the picture taken in Arizona on Route 66? Thank you for sharing.

    • Deborah,
      I *always* enjoy and appreciate your comments on this story! Thank you for taking the time to read the latest scene and share your impressions 😉 . My brother had a fire-bellied newt for years and he treated it as well as he would another sibling, LOL. It was really cute, and its tale really did remind me of a licorice twizzler!
      As for the cover of The Road and Beyond, YES! The picture was taken in the SW United States on Route 66 — either in New Mexico or Arizona. One of my favorite places to drive through… xox

  2. I love Thanksgiving because there are no expectations placed on one. My immediate family will be gathering for the first time in many years, and we have the addition of two new Grandsons born 6 months apart. I am truly a lucky lady and am so thankful for having us together. The new mothers are sisters, and their children have brought them closer together as they are able to support each other during this newborn stage. It reminds me of your idea behind The Road and Beyond – the importance of sisters. Thank you for giveaway, and congratulations on the audio books to be published!

    • Eva,
      First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on the new members of your family! What a blessing to have two baby grandsons joining you all this year 😉 . My son was a Thanksgiving baby, one of the many reasons I *love* this holiday, and my grandfather — also born around Thanksgiving — will be celebrating his 98th birthday this week. Getting to spend time with family — yet without, as you said, any expectations — is a lovely thing. It’s just about getting together, catching up, and…well, eating, LOL. What’s not to love, right?!

  3. This year Thanksgiving holds a real distinction in our lives. I’m over and over thankful for the blessings this years both DH and I starting new careers and living through H1N1 plus my parents house in the middle of no where sold and now we’ll be gathering in their retirement community condo for dinner. 2014 has been full of really painful moments and some gigantic blessings so we will definitely be communicating our thanks this week. =D

    So awesome that eight of your books are getting recorded! You’re just prolific like that. LOL Congrats and Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • Stephanie,
      First of all, {{HUGS}} to you for the painful and difficult times this year. (H1N1?!! Oh, no…) I’m glad they were tempered by big blessings, but I know roller-coaster years are hard. Last year was like that for me — HUGE ups, HUGE downs — so I’m very glad 2014 is ending on a high note for you! xoxo
      And thank you for the congrats on the audiobooks — I was so excited by that contract 🙂 — and for the Thanksgiving wishes! I consider you and our other online friends true blessings in my life <3.

  4. I’m so thankful for all my blessings, especially my wonderful family. My husband and I had to move away from our families five years ago because of hubby’s job, but if all goes well this week, we’ll soon be moving back home. Hubby got offered a new job, and we’re house hunting this week. Good timing too, as we just found out that we’re going to be grandparents again next summer!

    Thanks for the giveaway, Marilyn! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    • Oh, Pam!! Congratulations to you and your family on all the wonderful news — especially the new job, which will bring you closer to your family again, and the new grandbabies on the way! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that house hunting will go well and that you’ll find the perfect new home soon. Wishing you all a very, very Happy Thanksgiving!!

  5. I am thankful for my good health after a breast cancer diagnosis and recovery is going well. I look forward to enjoying this wonderful holiday with my family and the little ones who are precious and special. Best wishes, much happiness, continued success and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    • Ellie,
      I’m SO, SO glad to hear that your recovery is going well — that is a huge blessing!! My sister-in-law is a survivor of an aggressive breast cancer diagnosis from a few years back, and we’re always so grateful for the advanced treatments available to women now. I say a little prayer of thanks every time I hear about another survivor…xo Here’s to your continued good health moving forward and all the best to you and your family! 😉

  6. I love the idea of thanksgiving. As you probably know, we have Harvest festival here which is thanks for the crops, but not a time when we individually think what we are thankful for. This year has been a mixed bag for me, and although some things haven’t turned out the way I wanted them to I’m going to try and stay optimistic and focus on the things that I’m so thankful for, such as my wonderful family and our health. All the best with the new book, and I enjoyed the excerpt too. My bet was that Nancy was a cat, wasn’t expecting a newt!

    • Ceri,
      LOL about Nancy being a cat! I love cats, but I’m glad Gil’s fire-bellied newt surprised you in the story. I thought she was an appropriate pet for a beach-loving hero 🙂 .
      I love your attitude about staying optimistic and focusing on the things in your life that you’re grateful for… It’s something I try to do, too, although I know it’s not always easy during those tougher times. xox
      I’m so thankful I’ve gotten to know you a bit more through FB and Twitter and our online conversations these past couple of years. You’re always so kind and supportive, and I always appreciate it. Hope our paths will someday cross in person!!

  7. Marilyn. First off, congrats on new book series. I’m thankful that both my mom and dad are healthy and still with me. This year the holidays are going to be hard. I lost both my hubby’s mom and dad this year. I’m looking forward to making new memories with my family. Wishing you and yours s safe and happy thanksgiving! All the above books look really interesting and I’ll be adding them to my Christmas list. Hugs. Michele.

    • Michele,
      Many thanks for all of your kind comments and good wishes!! I appreciate every word and have my fingers crossed that you’ll enjoy the stories of mine you read 😉 .
      And I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband’s parents this year… Despite our age difference, my mother-in-law was one of my best friends. When she passed away a few years ago, I remember that the first holiday season without her was especially difficult, so I truly sympathize. {{Hugs}} Thinking of you all and wishing you a happy and memorable Thanksgiving with the family and friends you’re able to celebrate with this week. May it be filled with warm moments!

  8. Congratulations, Marilyn on your good news. Though I’m not an audiobook fan (yet), I’m delighted with your success. I haven’t read Part 4 of Gifts by the Shore so I’ll read that one first before commenting with my thoughts on this new part.

    I’m thankful to God for many things, the most important thing is my family. My parents are still alive and staying with me so they can take care of me and I them. My friends including my online buddies like you for their encouragement and understanding. I’m thankful for having good health since recovering from a serious bout of diarrhea early this month.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Marilyn. And also to every American reader!

    • Lúthien~
      Thank you so much for your congrats and for taking the time to read Gifts by the Shore!! I’ll look forward to your thoughts on the story, as always 😉 .
      And I’m so glad that you’re feeling better after your illness earlier this month. Everything is so much harder when we’re sick, isn’t it? As the saying goes, there’s no wealth like health…xox
      It’s truly wonderful that both of your parents are still in your life and that you get to spend time with them every day! I wish you all continued good health and the very best of everything for the rest of this year and beyond. I’m so grateful for wonderful online friends like YOU, too!! <3 <3

  9. Aww Nancy! I like little amphibious creatures, my niece and I catch them frequently but then we let them go. I’m glad you’ll be posting on your website if not here. I’m always eager for more!

    I’m thankful for my family. I moved back home last Thanksgiving and it’s been so nice. This holiday season will be the first without my grandpa, who passed in May, but I’m lucky to be 35 and still have 3 of 4 grandparents in my life. I’m trying to keep myself focused on the good holiday vibes and not get too stressed by the hustle and bustle. We’re having our thanksgivimg meal Friday night, followed by the town tree-lighting. (Not gonna lie, it was awful last year lol. Hope it’s better this!)

    Congrats on the audiobook contract! That’s exciting 🙂

    • Monica,
      Okay, I now have the most delightful image in my mind of you and your young niece chasing after a variety of amphibians near a lake or stream! It’s summertime…and I can almost hear the giggling… 😀 Today, it’s snowing like crazy in northern Illinois and sticking to the ground in a most unpromising way. I was really hoping for a nice brown Thanksgiving! Here’s hoping all the frogs and newts in the area have taken shelter, LOL.
      I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your grandfather (xoxo), but I’m glad you have the rest of your grandparents still with you. Hoping you’ll be able to spend time with them all this week — or at least get to catch up by phone. As for this year’s tree-lighting ceremony, I’m looking forward to hearing your impressions of this!! I’ll be checking your Twitter page this weekend…and my fingers are crossed that it’s an improvement over last November’s event!
      Thanks for being so wonderful, Monica. Your wittiness and your thoughtful comments are always a day brightener. 🙂

  10. Congrats, Marilyn! Beautiful, gorgeous cover!
    I am grateful for my friends, with extra special hugs for those who indirectly led my to my wonderful husband, whom I might not have met, were it not for them. Just goes to show that you never know where the road might take you 🙂
    Best of luck, have a very happy Thanksgiving and enjoy all the great things coming your way!

    • Joana,
      Thank you!! I’m so pleased you like the cover! I know I already mentioned this on Facebook, but it was taken on Route 66 in the Arizona/New Mexico area. I got to drive on it for the first time last summer, and I fell in love with the region. So lovely!
      And what a perfect blessing to be thankful for — the friends who helped facilitate your first meeting with your husband!! 😉 Wishing you, your family and your friends all the best as the holiday season gets underway and 2014 turns into 2015!

  11. Oh Marilyn, I had to laugh when ‘Nancy’ turned out to be a newt! I’ll never forget the morning when my son was going to bring his gecko in for show and tell. He was putting it in a box, when it escaped. Here we were trying to catch the gecko in his room. I went for it’s tail not knowing that they detach as a defense mechanism. I freaked! My son laughed! He was about 10 at the time. Needless to say, I was more stressed out than the gecko. Fortunately, they both made it to school intact and returned home the same way too.

    I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with my sister in Oswego, NY on Thursday. We have a bit of catching up to do as I haven’t seen her since August. Yes, we talk on the phone and email, but it’s just not the same as being together. I’m thankful for the close relationship I have with her and our other sister and of course, I am thankful for my own family and our health. Truly there is much to be grateful for…Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Thank you so much!!
        They’re such a good audio publisher — I was really pleased — and I love that, while they’re based in Canada, their audiobooks are available worldwide 😉 . It’s been fun to get little peeks at the process so far!

    • LOLOL, Carole!!!
      Oh, my goodness! I would have totally freaked out, too!! I’m glad your son found the situation so amusing and that he and his gecko made it safely to school and back for show and tell!! 😀 Too funny…
      And how wonderful that you’ll get to spend time with your sister in New York! Having siblings we’re close to is such a blessing. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed that kind of warm relationship over the years, and I’ve really loved getting to read the stories you’ve shared here about you and your sisters this fall!

  12. I am thankful for the sunshine, blue skies and beautiful surroundings in which I live and can enjoy walks in the foothills with my husband. My continued great health is something which I am thankful for everyday. I enjoyed your photos of Route 66 trip. The cover is captivating.

    • Anne,
      The things you are thankful for are wonderful indeed!! It’s such a great thing to appreciate the beauty of nature and the blessing of good health — I’m so glad you get to enjoy both!!
      And many thanks for your kind comments about the cover and my Route 66 pictures. That’s an area of the country I really fell in love with last year… Such loveliness makes my heart sing 😉 .
      Wishing you all the best!

  13. Ooo, audiobooks! Will they be available on Audible, Marilyn? I love them for getting a reading fix in when I physically can’t read a book (driving, cooking, gardening, decorating). In fact, I’ve just been painting a room that is going to be my new study/computer/craft room. It was our son’s but he’s left home now so I’ve appropriated the space! When I look at the walls (one coat of paint) and ceiling (three coats) I can tell you exactly which audiobook I was listening to when painting each one. I feel, somehow, I should write a little note in a corner of each one, to say which one was which. They were all Austenesque audiobooks, so to me it’ll always be my Austenesque room. Plus, I’ll be keeping all my Austenesque books in there as well.

    I’m a bit behind reading Gifts by the Shore, not read the previous chapter yet, so I’ve skipped through that and most of the comments – spoilers! Spent more time painting than reading lately. Now I’ve got to organise all my stuff!

    We travelled along part of Route 66 in Arizona on a trip through the USA in 2008. The weather was a little bit different to your cover photo, though. We had to drive through a tropical style thunderstorm at one point. Had to pull of the road and stop cos the visibility was soooo bad.

    Finally, my thanks are for my wonderful husband of 37 years. He’s my best friend and I really couldn’t imagine life without him.

    • Anji,

      First, what lovely sentiments you shared about your husband! To have enjoyed 37 years together (and counting!) is such a gift — hugs and congrats to you both!!

      I loved reading about how the memories of the audiobooks you were listening to while painting would come to mind whenever you’d look at the walls 😀 . Not to mention that you have an Austenesque room for crafts, computer work and as a study! *Everyone* should have such a place… And YES! My audiobooks will be available on Audible for sure, and also through several other retailers. Format-wise, they’ll be on both CDs and downloadable audio files. Very excited about this <3.

      Re: Gifts by the Shore — no rush!! The link I have at the very end of the post will go to my website ( and under the "Books" tab there's a link just for that story. All of the segments I've posted here so far, plus a new section that I haven't posted anywhere else yet, is all there in one place. Hope that'll make catching up easier!

      And oh, no (!!) about the Route 66 region being so stormy on your trip… We were traveling in the area during mid-July and we had *scorching* temps. Everyone was sick of the heat and hoping for rain, but it sounds as though you got more than enough of that for all of us during your visit!! Now, see — there's a reason for you to come back, right? See the States again in a different month perhaps?! 🙂

  14. This year Thanksgiving brings special meaning to all of our family. Our grandson was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma in Sept. Of last year. He was 7 at the time and the shock rocked us all to the core. After more chemo than anyone, young or old should have to deal with he is presently in remission. It is amazing how he handled all the treatment , long rides to the hospital and being so very sick much of the time. While it was heartbreaking to see him go through everything it was equally hard to see our daughter deal with her child being so ill. We all kept our faith and had the love, support and prayers of our extended family, community, neighbors and even strangers. Evan just had his 9nth birthday and needless to say, this Thanksgiving will be spent counting our blessings and praying for good health.

    Your books took me out of the real world as I sat with Evan during treatment and I eagerly await the audio books. Thank you for a respite from some very frightening times.

    • Constance, reading your comments above brought tears to my eyes… I am so, so sorry that your grandson, you, your daughter and your whole family had to suffer through such an ordeal. My heart breaks just reading about it and I can only imagine how hard it must have been for all of you…Evan in particular during those long months of treatment. What an incredible blessing that he pulled through all of that — a testament to his beautiful spirit and to the strength of your family, friends, faith, and community. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to hear the wonderful news that he’s in remission now, doing so well, and celebrating being 9 years old!! That is the BEST news I’ve heard in ages! 🙂 That anything I wrote brought you a moment of escape during that worrisome time is beyond an honor, and I can only thank you for sharing that with me. <3 <3 <3 Wishing you and your family the happiest of Thanksgivings and may there be only good health and good news for you all in the years ahead!!

  15. Dear Marilyn,
    Congratulations, can’t wait to read your new book! I am so thrilled for you. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving this year when my two older sons come home from college and our house is filled again. Also, what is better than a day that celebrates food??
    Xoxo. Janet

    • Janet!!!
      Thank you for taking the time to stop by and leave a note for me! As always, it’s wonderful to hear from you, and I was so glad to get to see you at the book club on the 14th 😉 .
      So glad you’ll get to be with your boys for the holiday. I imagine they’re just as excited to get back home as you are to have them there!!
      And LOL about a day that celebrates food — SO true! Add in the inevitable leftovers, and it becomes a *week* that celebrates feasting…and then, well, then there’s ALL of December 😀 . XOX

  16. Thanksgiving is the best holiday – to think that all you are meant to do is get together with loved ones and eat! Congratulations on your audio book contract! I am intrigued by “Gifts by the Shore” partially because you’ve got characters with a little experience under their belt. I’m interested in finding out how someone who stayed commitment-resistant for so long will come around! Thank you for the excerpt.

    I’m thankful for my family, no question. No matter the ups and downs that our kids go through, I’m grateful that they’re healthy and happy and ours! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Kathy,
      Thanks so much for your sweet and cheery message! And I totally agree — what’s not to love about a holiday that involves hanging out with people you care about and eating nonstop for, like, DAYS?! 😉
      Thank you as well for the congrats and for your kind comments about Gifts by the Shore. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the story(!!) and, yeah, Gil is definitely gun shy when it comes to relationships… I have every confidence that Marianna will win him over, but it may just take a few hundred more pages to get there, LOL.
      Here’s wishing you and your family a joyous (and delicious) Thanksgiving!

  17. Congrats Marilyn, sounds like you have a lot going on!

    I’m thankful for family this season. We are in the process of finalizing on the adoption of our 3 month old son. He’s been with us since he was less than an hour old and we couldn’t imagine him not being part of our family. Our 7 year old is loving finally being a big sister and is a great help. We’ve been truly blessed.

    Warm wishes for the season.

    • Colleen,
      Thanks so much for the congrats and WOW!! Huge congratulations to you and your family on the adoption of your baby boy! How wonderful for ALL of you 🙂 . I’m the older sister of a brother who is 7 years younger than me and, personally, I was always really grateful for that — not only to have such a great little brother but, also, because I really liked that seven-year age gap between us. It made it easy for each of us to have a lot of time with our parents at various stages of growing up. Glad your daughter is enjoying being a big sister — it’s such fun!!
      Hope you’ll all have an especially lovely holiday!!

  18. Marilyn,

    Thanks for this glimpse into Gil’s life. I love how each chapter is focusing on a different character, sketching out the puzzle pieces before they can all be put together to reveal the whole picture. That newt is beautiful!

    I am thankful for my family, having a good job that helps me make a difference in the world, and for the JAFF community that brings so much to my life with its generosity. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • TLeighF,
      Thank you so much!! I’m glad you’re enjoying the story chapters I’ve shared, and I love how you see them as a set of puzzle pieces being laid out before the full picture can be revealed!! That’s how I was thinking about the beginning, too, as I was writing it… I really enjoy that storytelling style with movies — when we see a number of scenes from the viewpoint of different characters and they all seem slightly unrelated at first, but then the connections become more apparent and there’s this great rush of understanding when all the threads finally merge 😀 .
      Anyway, I’m truly grateful to know wonderful readers like you, and I send wishes to you and your family for a very happy holiday season!

  19. Happy Thanksgiving Marilyn! It’s a few minutes past midnight here in Atlanta, so it’s not quite Black Friday yet in Illinois. I’m grateful for so many people and things. I’m grateful first and foremost for God, my family, and friends. Then I’m grateful for my kindle and iPad mini. These gadgets make it so much easier for me to read and do work when I don’t have the space or time to grab my laptop. I’m grateful for the brilliant men and women, such as your self, who writes stories that grab my attention and leave me wanting more. I’m grateful for my brother who is willing to travel anywhere there is a book signing with me and carry my luggage which is usually 90% books. I’m grateful for my health and the fact that my migraines have decreased significantly since I first started getting them two years ago. I’m beyond grateful for the men and women in our armed forces. They sacrifice so much so we don’t have to. I’m grateful for the work I have, the roof over my head, the food I have to eat and so much more. I never meant to write so much.

    We spent today with family and it was wonderful. My youngest sibling bought my grandparents a desk top computer and spent time after brunch teaching my grandfather how to type. One of my cousins made a black forrest cake from scratch that was delicious. I read a little bit while some people dozed and others clipped coupons while figuring out the best places to go shipping. Our original plan was nothing like what happened, but it was wonderful to spend time with all my siblings, mom, grandparents, and multitude of cousins.

    • Chanpreet,
      I’m so glad you had such a fantastic day with your family yesterday! And I loved what you said about how your original plan was nothing like what happened but that it was wonderful to spend time with everyone 😉 . To me, those are the BEST family events! I also loved the list of the many things you feel grateful for… I’m relieved to hear that your migraine pain has gone down (I hope it’ll go away completely soon!) and I agree with you about the men and women in our armed forces. They are true heroes.
      For my part, because of family birthdays plus Thanksgiving, we’ve been racing around at different events for the past several days, but all of them have been such happy occasions and a treat to get to spend time with people I love but don’t get to see often enough.
      And while you are grateful for writers (thank you!!), I’m so appreciative of loyal, supportive, and encouraging readers like YOU!! You all keep me going…and getting to talk about stories with you all is one of the greatest gifts imaginable 🙂 . *HUGS!!*

  20. I love anything Marilyn writes! I am thankful for all the people in JAFF who write such lovely stories to entertain me. And, this Thanksgiving I am especially thankful for family and dear friends. They are the most important gifts from God.

    • Brenda, thank you!!! I so appreciate how supportive you’ve *always* been of me and my stories, and I’m just thrilled to see your own novels get such well-deserved recognition. I love your work!
      I’m hoping you got to spend a lot of time with your family and good friends this Thanksgiving, and here’s wishing you all the best for the Christmas season 🙂 .

    • Jen, YAY!!!
      Thanks for taking the time to stop by! (You’re definitely counted in, my dear!!)
      And road-trip stories are some of my very favorites. We learn so much about our companions — and ourselves, lol — out on the road… 🙂

  21. Congratulations on the new book. I know having the proof is like one of the last big hurdles. I heard someone on the radio the other day commenting that Thanksgiving is so inclusive and we should rejoice that we have this holiday that everyone no matter ethnic origin or religion or status can have some joy in. We had a wonderful time last week. The children and grandchildren were here for a week and took care of their poor old Mom (Nana) who is recovering from pneumonia. All the hugs and kisses helped my recovery. Again, life is full of ups and downs but the joy of family helps through those periods when life is a trial. Blessings to everyone and many Thanks for having wonderful reading and comments.

    • Maggie,
      First and foremost, I’m so glad you’re feeling better! I know my virtual hugs don’t have the same healing power as real ones from your kids and grandchildren, but I’m sending some just the same!! Hope you’ll be back to 100% very soon. 😉
      And thank you for the congrats on the new book. Getting to this step seemed to take forever, lol, but I’m thrilled to finally be here! XO

  22. Having read the previous excerpt of Gifts by the Shore and now this one, it’s great to learn about Gil. You set up the chapter nicely, Marilyn. I want to know what’s his story with woman. Did someone from his past hurt him badly that he rejects the idea of getting hitched or his observation that most marriages end in divorce that scares him? I hope there is something more than that.

    • Luthien,
      Thank you so much for reading the story up through this point and for sharing your observations! I loved reading your thoughts about Gil 😉 . Yes, there are a couple of reasons for his fear of commitment… He doesn’t have the bad marriage history that Marianna does, but he has strong personal experiences that color his worldview and, in some ways, he’s even less willing to take a chance on love than she is. We all know her relationship background from page one but his takes a lot longer to reveal!

      Everyone, thanks for all of your wonderful comments! I’m going to run the random drawing this afternoon and will post the winner’s name tonight when I get home! ♡

  23. Getting to read all of your comments over the past week has been a gift I’m truly thankful for…and I can’t express how much I appreciate each one of you. Thank you all so much!

    The random drawing is done and the winner of the signed paperback proof of THE ROAD AND BEYOND is Monica Perry!!! (Please email me – MarilynBrant AT Gmail DOT Com – and let me know your street address. I’ll mail the book out this week. 🙂 )

    AND…because there were so many lovely comments and it never seems like enough to do just one giveaway (!!), I’m adding TWO more winners for ebook copies of the novel (formats: epub, mobi or pdf). And those go to Constance and TLeighF!! (Please email me at the same Gmail address and let me know which email you’d like me to send the ebook to and which format you’d like to receive.)

    Congrats to you all and, again, many thanks to every one of you here!! XOXO 😉

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