Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Week Guest Blog & Giveaway Day 3: Marilyn Brant

UPDATE: The winner of ACCORDING TO JANE is donnas! Congrats! Please email your physical addy to contests(AT)
Autumn is easily my favorite time of year. I love every sensory bit of it: the vivid colors of our sugar maples, the delectable crunch of the curled-up leaves, the enticing smell (and melt-in-your-mouth taste!) of warm apple-cider-cinnamon donuts…sigh. And I love the fun of the fall holidays, too—especially the pageantry and goofiness of Halloween and the one-two punch of the Thanksgiving feast: great food + endlessly intriguing family dynamics. It’s a season of change, at least here in the Midwest. For me, it’s also been an especially reflective time. A time when emotion catches up with memory.
So, I guess it’s no surprise that, as a writer, I find myself returning again and again to this season in my books. It’s a symbolic time for me on several levels, and thinking about the kinds of activities that happen in the fall always puts me in the mood for a character to start or end her journey. Never was this truer than in my first two novels.
In ACCORDING TO JANE (Kensington trade), which was just released this month, my heroine has the ghost of Jane Austen in her head giving her dating advice. That advice starts in early November and the story ends at the very same time of year—a seasonal bookending, if you will, across nearly two decades. My upcoming women’s fiction book, FRIDAYS AT NINE (October 2010), is a modern fairy tale about three forty-something women and their marriages. It takes place entirely over the course of one single autumn and, as the three main characters delve further into their individual arcs, the season itself moves and twists along, like wayward tree roots beneath their feet with the potential to trip them. That book has a major turning point at Halloween: a revelation of disguises and pretense. And an opening up to family at Thanksgiving. Then, finally, the preparation for changed lives and a new season at the book’s—and autumn’s—end.
There are tremendous opportunities for symbols and motifs in other seasons, too, of course. Despite my personal aversion to ice storms, winter can be cozy, holiday-oriented, chilly on the outside/warm on the inside. Spring is frequently a time of rebirth and renewal. And summer delights us with its long days, sunshine, sand-n-surf, hot nights… Well, along with mosquitoes, high humidity and road repairs. (I live in the American Midwest, remember.) The book I’m working on right now is a summertime story and—as I get ready to switch on the furnace at home and pull out my fuzzy sweaters—I’m having fun imagining the need for sunscreen and flip flops, bug repellant and beach coolers. And I’m looking forward to living with the burning heat of July, at least on my computer screen, even while in the midst of an inevitable Chicago blizzard.

What about you? What’s your favorite season in the region where you live? Do you recall a scene from a book you enjoyed where the season played an important role?

To everyone at TKA and the readers of this blog, I hope you have a Happy Halloween and an awe-inspiring autumn!
Marilyn Brant
According to Jane~Golden Heart Winner, Out NOW!
Fridays at Nine~Coming October 2010 from Kensington Books

HALLOWEEN WEEK CONTESTS: Remember, there are TWO ways to win! Each day this week (Oct. 26 thru Oct. 30th) a guest blogger will give away a signed book to one person randomly chosen from the comment section. Today's prize is ACCORDING TO JANE by Marilyn Brant. Check back in this post tomorrow to find out if you are the winner!

Also, at the bottom of each post there is a scavenger hunt question. The answer can be located somewhere on the author's website. Send in all 5 correct answers* to the scavenger hunt questions, and you will be entered in a drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card!!!
SCAVENGER HUNT QUESTION (3 of 5): Marilyn Brant received her M.A. in educational psychology from which university?
*Please note, that the correct answers to the scavenger hunt questions must be sent in at one time. You must collect all 5 answers and send them in one email. Entries for the scavenger hunt will be accepted from Friday, October 30th thru Sunday, November 1st at midnight. The winner will be announed on this blog Monday, November 2nd, 2009. If you have any questions about this contest, please contact contests(AT)

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Blogger CrystalGB said...

Hi Marilyn. According to Jane sounds great. My favorite season is summer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 8:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Dawn Maria said...

In my first book, I didn't pay too much attention to season. My WIP is set over the summer at an arts residency program and I know I'll be incorporating more outdoor elements in this work.

Thanks for a great post, and I look forward to reading your book. I'm an Austen girl!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 9:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Maria Geraci said...

I already have the book (and LOVED it) so enter me to win, but I had to comment and say that Fall is my fav time of the year too:) Great post, Marilyn!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 9:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Maria Geraci said...

woops, must have been a Freudian slip! (I guess you can never have enough great books!) I meant to say DON'T enter me to win. I wouldn't want to deprive someone else for a chance on this book!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 9:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger elnice said...

ahh, the seasons do provide so much inspiration. I love each season for different reasons, but fall always sticks with me. I grew up in the NE and fall was always spectacular. I miss jumping in a big pile of leaves. I can't think of any books than leave an impression of a season.
Great post.
Elie (Ellz Readz)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 9:24:00 AM EDT  
Blogger elnice said...

Maria Geraci posted here (love her)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 9:24:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Suzette said...

Fall is my favorite season. I love the crisp cool air, the leaves changing colors and the fact that I'm an autumn baby helps too. Love the post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 9:38:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Angie Ledbetter said...

We only have one season in the Deep South; Hot, so I guess it's my fav. Oh, and two sub-seasons - football/hunting and politics. :)

Good luck to contestants!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Emily C. said...

I live in Florida, so the cooling air that comes with Fall is very welcome.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10:27:00 AM EDT  
Blogger tetewa said...

My favorite season is Fall. Love the changing of the colors and enjoy the cooler temperatures as the hot temps from Summer leave. I also enjoy watching college football and Halloween is my favorite holiday!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10:40:00 AM EDT  
Blogger CarolynPrescott said...

I love Jane Austen and the book sounds fantastic! I'm an Autumn girl too, though we don't enjoy too much of the typical season here in the desert. Ah, this is the time of year I dearly miss the northeast!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 11:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Marilyn Brant said...

Good morning, everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by :).

Crystal~Thank you! My husband would agree with you that summer is the best, too. All of his favorite outdoor things to do are in that season.

Dawn Maria~I love meeting other Austen girls! And I really like the sound of your WIP.

Maria~You're so wonderful to visit me today--and say nice things about my book on top of it!! xo

elnice/Elie~I read your wonderful review of Maria's Bunco Babes book! (I'm a Kitty, too. :) Thanks for your comments also. I have a friend who grew up in the NE, and the vibrant fall she had there is what she misses since she moved...

Suzette~I'm an autumn baby as well! Perhaps that's part of the draw to the season. It's nice to get to celebrate a birthday in addition to Halloween and Thanksgiving :).

Angie~LOL about the "sub-seasons"! Having grown up in Wisconsin (with bone-chilling ice storms), I can't tell you how many times I wished for HOT!

Emily~Florida is my son's all-time favorite place. We've only visited a couple of times, but he'd happily live there year-round if he could :).

tetewa~Halloween is awesome, isn't it? Just from a people-watching standpoint, there's so much fun to be had with the costumes and the decorations. And then (my favorite part) there's the candy! All those Snickers miniatures just calling to me...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 11:15:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Marilyn Brant said...

Carolyn~I took so long to post (my son was talking to me!) that I missed your comment... Yay! Another Austen fan! I remember when I was teaching, I read a great kids' book about the desert--I'm in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor. The girl in the story made up special holidays, many specific to the desert. I still love reading that :).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 11:19:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Gloria Oliver said...

Love the picture at the top! Gorgeous! And those donuts sound utterly delish! (Making me hungry!)

I can't think of a season that has played a major role in any books I've read. I'll throw in Harry Potter as all seasons were covered, showing time progression as most of the books always ended at the end of the school year. :P

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 11:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger van_pham said...

Hi Marilyn,

Great post, According to Jane sounds interesting...def. gonna check this one out :). Oh also, my favorite season of the year is winter.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 11:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger RKCharron said...

Hi Marilyn :)
Thank you for the great post.
The only book that comes to mind that has Season as an important factor is The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Thanks again for sharing,
All the best,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 12:41:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous QLady48 said...

Nice pic!!! I like fall for looks, but hate raking all those leaves!! I LUV Christmas books, like to hear the different customs. Your new book for 2010 sounds good too!! Thanks, Sue

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 12:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Rain Maiden said...

Hello favorite time of the year is summer. Oh those lazy summer days. I love Jane Austin's stories and all the movies that are based on her books. So not only do I cry when it comes to the Little Mermaid..I also cry at all Jane Austin movies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 1:16:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zita said...

I also enjoy autumn the most. I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and we have the brilliant leaf changes, too. Having grown up in Manitoba, which really only has two seasons--summer and winter--beng able to enjoy a full fall season is the greatest!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 1:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marilyn Brant said...

Gloria~Oh, you're so right about Harry Potter. I love the way the seasons are highlighted through each book/school year, esp. with Hogwarts special events and holiday meals, etc. (And about the donuts--a friend gave me one recently and it was fantabulous. :)

van~Thank you for visiting. And winter! I'm fascinated by that--and I always quiz my friends who tell me it's their fave! What do you love most? The outdoors--skiing? Skating? Snowball fights (if you live in a cold climate)? Or, the repreive from the heat (if you live in a warm one)? My favorite part of winter is the endless cocoa I drink :).

RKCharron~Lovely to see you here! Oooh, thanks for reminding me of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe--so much imagery there!

QLady/Sue~Thanks for your comments on the next book! (And I'm right there with you on wanting to avoid raking and other yardwork...) As for the photo, I love it but can take no credit for finding it. That was all Jia's doing!! (Thanks, Jia. :)

Rain Maiden~Oh, definitely--the Disney movies always make me teary, but yes on the Austen films, too! Esp. the long versions (like the Colin Firth P&P) where you've invested so much time and energy into the characters and their story. By the end it feels as though you're in it with them, experiencing every emotion...sigh.

Zita~I've never been to Nova Scotia and always wanted to go! I'll bet it's gorgeous there in autumn!! Someday, I'll have to take a trip up there :).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 1:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Maureen McGowan said...

I love fall, too. The bright colors, the fresh air. Love it.

I already have your wonderful book, too. So don't enter me, either. Although we do need to figure out a plan for you to sign it for me....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 2:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Sara Daniel said...


Summer is definitely my favorite, although I really, really love those fall days where the temperature makes you think of summer but the leaves are crunching under your feet. I think I appreciate them so much because I know they won't last. Winter inevitably takes over. Sigh.

I already bought According to Jane, and I loved it, naturally! I won't ever again have a rum and coke without thinking of Sam Blaine . . . Can't wait for the next books!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 2:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger LSUReader said...

I always love reading about fall, probably because I grew up in a part of the deep South that really doesn't have that season. Thanks for visiting with us today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 2:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger JJ said...

I live in Florida, so we only have two seasons (summer & sort of winter), but I love (and miss) fall.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 2:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eriika said...

Marilyn -

Fall is hte time or me. Big footbal fan so sitting in 55 degree sunny weather watching a game is the best. I also love all the colors of the leaves and the array that they make on my lawn. We are also very big on leaf pile jumping in my house which adds to the excitment of fall.

I don't have a favorite book with a season. But winter seems like it would be great to write about. You could get very romantic with snuggling by the fire, watching the snow fall outide the window drinking hot choclate.

I own According to Jane and loved it. Looking forward to the second one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 2:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marilyn Brant said...

Maureen~Thank you :). Can I entice you to visit Chicago?? We must plan a Nashville get-together at least!

Sara~LOL!!! Well, those rum and Cokes are dangerous anyway... ;)

LSUReader~Thank you for stopping by! I figured I'd really miss the fall if we moved to a warmer climate, but there are times (esp. in January) where the deep South is so, so appealing!

JJ~As I mentioned to Emily, my son LOVES Florida! If he could, he'd get us all to move there just so he could play on the beach and rush into the waves...

Erika~I remember how you loved going to those football games in school! (And, unlike me, you actually understood the rules. :) I think you're right about writing a book set in winter--I can see the characters snowed in at a cabin somewhere, needing to work together to make meals and stay warm...and if there's cocoa involved, it would have to be good, right?!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 3:16:00 PM EDT  
Blogger kristina shields said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 3:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger yabooknerd said...

OMG! According to Jane sounds so wickedly awesome.

My favorite season is winter. I adore the Christmas novels or ones featuring snow. I love reading them when it's actually snowing outside as I gear up for the holidays

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 3:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger kristina shields said...

I love spring. It's not too cold and it's not too hot. It feels just right outside and you get to see all of the flowers blooming. It's so pretty.

This book sounds very interesting and I can't wait to get my hands on it soon. Good luck with your writing career!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 4:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Stacy McKitrick said...

Please enter me in the contest.
Warm weather is my favorite season, but my novel is set in the winter. I do love the way snow looks, though. And it always sounds quiet when it's snowing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 4:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Debra St. John said...

HI Marilyn, I could not agree with you more about autumn. It's my favorite season as well. Right now it's so fabulous to look out of the window and see all of the beautiful trees. Everything seems to glow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 5:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Sue (okibi_insanity) said...

My favorite season is Fall. I love watching the leaves turn into different colors. The novel Summer Knight by Jim Butcher encorparated a change in season. In the novel, two faery queens are battling for power and this caused a shift in seasons.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 6:24:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Chelsea B. said...

Oh, Autumn is by far my favorite season to. I love the not to hot, not to cold air. Lovely :)

According to Jane sounds like a really interesting book!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 6:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger ddurance said...

My favorite season is fall. Actually the leaves don't change and until late fall, but there's just a change in the air this time of year. Plus I'm just a Halloween kind of girl. lol
Richelle Mead's Frostbite, which is the second book in her Vampire Academy series comes to mind. It's winter and the school takes a trip to a ski lodge. It's a major part of the story and affects the rest of the book.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 6:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Margay said...

Marilyn, just wanted to wish you well with this book!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 7:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger BrigidsBlest said...

Sounds like an intriguing book, although, of the two Janes, I always preferred Eyre to Austen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 7:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Andie Reads said...

My favorite season is fall, I absolutely love New England falls! I love the leaves on the ground and just the general feel of the air.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 7:45:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marilyn Brant said...

yabooknerd~Love that picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa!! I love everything about Italy... :) I'm less enthusiastic about snow, but I can definitely get into a good Christmas novel, too.

Kristina~You're the first person to mention spring! There is something really wonderful about that season. Just like you said, everything is growing and blooming. I think a lovely spring morning turns us all into optimists--at least for a little while :). Thanks for the good wishes, too!

Stacy~I'll admit, much as I hate shoveling it, there's nothing like watching the snow fall, esp. at night, when holiday lights are sparkling and maybe some music is playing. As long as I can stay inside with my cocoa and my frosted sugar cookies, I can appreciate the view from my window!

Debra~I know! When the sun's out, it's just gorgeous. When it gets rainy and cold, though...argh! :)

Sue~Thank you for telling me about that Jim Butcher novel--you've really piqued my interest! I like that idea of a battle between two powers and it's effect on the seasons.

Chelsea~I feel that exact way about the temperature in fall--and I appreciate that about spring, too. It's "just right," as Goldilocks would say ;-).

ddurance~I love the title of the book you mentioned--"Frostbite" for a vampire story in winter... That's *really* clever! Thank you for telling me about it--I'll have to check that one out.

Margay~Aren't you awesome to just stop by?! Thank you :).

BrigidsBlest~You have a lot of company with that preference for Bronte (and I like Jane Eyre, too :), but Austen will always be my fave.

Andie~I've been envious of people talking about New England autumns for SO long! I've only been to NE a couple of time, and both of those times were in summer... Clearly, I need to get out there in October one of these days!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 8:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger LDFerris said...

Thanks for the beautiful post, Marilyn. I love the fall too! The summers where I live are hot and dry, the winters cold and icy, and the springs cool and wet; so autumns mild weather, beautiful colors and scents are one of my favorite things. 'According to Jane' sounds like a really cool story, so the next time I'm at the store I'm going to look for it. Thanks again!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 8:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger donnas said...

Great post. I love fall. Although this year it seems like we are missing most of it. When the leaves start changing and it gets cool at night but is still wonderful during the day. I have read some great books that take place in winter, where the season made a difference but I dont recall any for the other seasons.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marilyn Brant said...

LDFerris~Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and that you're a fan of the season, too. Fall never lasts long enough, in my opinion :).

donnas~I'm not sure where you are, but here (Chicagoland area) we've had a lot of rain lately, and those gray, cold days really mute the vibrancy of the season for me. But when we're lucky enough to get a crisp, clear day, there's just nothing better!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 12:45:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Joyce Wolfley said...

I've enjoyed watching my daughter experience Autumn for the second time (though she was too young to experience the first). Crunching the leaves with her feet is the ultimate activity for her.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 9:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marilyn Brant said...

Joyce~I can imagine how much she loved it! My son had a thing for leaf piles when he was a toddler. He could never get enough of jumping into them :).

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 1:18:00 AM EDT  

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