Monday, February 17, 2014

The Road To You week three discussion

Well I'm posting this from my couch. I was so excited about the forecast for warmer weather, unfortunately it was preceded by a morning just under freezing with rain and thundershowers which then froze as soon as it hit the ground.
Spring come on!!

Enough forecasting LOL
So we've reached the end of our story so let's get on with chatting about it.

Tell us what you thought about the last section
Were your expectations met?

Your final thoughts on Aurora and Donovan.

What was the biggest surprise for you in the novel?

Now for my favorite question.
Fast forward five years and tell us what Aurora, Donovan and Gideon are up to.


  1. Deb,
    I hear you... We got about 6 - 7 more inches of snow today. UGH! I am SO VERY sick of winter!!
    Hope you, Karen, Elaine, April and everyone reading this had a good weekend ;).
    Looking forward to continuing the chat throughout this week!!
    Hugs to you all - xox!

    1. I'm going to petition having a no snow winter next year :) LOL
      My weekend was great thanks!! It was just Monday that SUCKED!!

  2. Snow???? :-) I have NOT been homesick for WV these last few weeks, not even one iota. :-) We had 77 degree sunny skies yesterday and enjoyed every minute of it. BUT the weather talking head on TV said we had one more artic blast coming our way :-/

    Now to the story ------

    The end blew me out of the water!!!!!! I could not believe that Aurora did not recognize Andy Reggio as her brother, even with the fake accent after interacting with on a regular basis since Oklahoma. I need to go back and look. Did he dye his hair and perm it along with the beard? Did he always wear sunglasses when he was around Aurora? It would take more than a beard and a fake accent for me to not recognize my brother walking down the street, especially if i was desparately looking for him. Just saying. No smiles, change the walk, there is so much body language that gives a person away to someone who is close to them. And it sounds like Aurora and her brother were really close. ???? How did you work through this problem, Marilyn? When I was reading the story, the flow was such that these questions didn't even surface. SOoooo they weren't a stumbling block within the storyline. :-)
    Surprises: brother working with the FEDS, staying undercover and staying "dead", loved that the story was left opened for a sequel.
    The final resolution on Aurora and Donvan was great! It went where it should with a wonderful western sunset, to boot, it was only missing the proverbial horse. (I won't give away your great big boo boo LOL)
    Looking forward five years..... LOL

    Aurora and Donovan are married. She has graduated with her Library of Science degree from NAR and has taken a couple of years off before starting her Masters to enjoy the upcoming arrival of their second child. Donovan has followed his dream and has just finished his first year of his Master's program at the UCLA. Aurora is thrilled, as her brother has a place in Burbank and makes time to visit his niece and sister anytime he is in the LA area.
    With a little plastic surgery, and the permanent name change, after another year, the FEDS plan on allowing "Andy" to move from the undercover world to a managerial planning position in the LA area under his new name of Harold Andrews. His girl and protected wonder of five years ago in Chicago had long since been placed under the witness protection program and moved to a place near Portland, OR where she ran a B&B on one of the great fishing rivers of the area that FBI and other FED types loved to go to for a get-away, including Harold........and a romance grew.....
    Aurora's parents sold the place back home and moved to a condo in Fresno, where they could see the kids on occasion, but not endanger their son, but he could come see them when in the area. And syndicated crime kept the FEDS in business (and the mystery writers profitable :-) .....

    1. Karen,

      I loved reading your predictions!! LOL about the condo in Fresno for Aurora's parents and plastic surgery for Andy! A little later in the week, I'll tell you all a bit more about my own predictions... I actually wrote about 50 more pages, set in 2014, that involves Aurora in the present day (at age 54). I couldn't stop thinking about her after this story ended and was curious about what her life would be like later, too!

      You brought up an excellent point about whether or not she would really recognize her brother, and I think a lot of good arguments could be made that she (or someone else in her situation) might have known. I spent some time thinking about that while I was working on the manuscript because, originally, I thought for sure, if I heard my brother's voice, I would *certainly* recognize it -- even with an accent. And then I was talking with a good friend of mine, someone I'd known for over 12 years. She's from the Midwest, but she played a recording of someone speaking with a Southern accent and asked us to identify that person. My other friends and I had no idea...but it was HER. She'd been a former actress, so she had some skill in this area, but it convinced me that my idea was possible -- particularly if someone hadn't heard their sibling in a while -- and maybe not recognize a brother's or sister's voice if he/she were good enough at disguising it.

      As far as what he was wearing -- Aurora couldn't see Andy's hair at all or even much of his face. He had a helmet on both times and, as she later explains when she sees him in San Bernardino, he'd filled out a bit, so his build was a little different (which I saw happen with my brother between age 18 and 20) and the skin she could see was Southern California tan, rather than Minnesota pale ;) . But, when it comes to visual things, I did have a direct personal experience with not recognizing my own brother -- and he wasn't even in any kind of disguise! One day when he was in college, he showed up to surprise me at the school I was teaching at then (about a 5-hour drive away from his university). It had been 3 or 4 months since I'd last seen him and I hadn't expected him to be in my classroom doorway, so I stared at him for several seconds before I recognized him. My brain just couldn't reconcile him being somewhere I totally hadn't expected him to be!!

      Not saying that all this would be enough to convince everyone (!!), but that was part of my reasoning -- that and the fact that Aurora was in really dangerous situations both times and hadn't expected that if her brother did suddenly appear, that he would then just walk away again without revealing herself. To me, that's a side of him that she could never understand. FWIW, in 2014, she still doesn't fully understand this!

      Anyway, it was fun thinking back on how I'd been thinking through those scenes, LOL, and I'd understand if someone else felt differently! There is something in the final chapter (#18) that I totally got wrong, and a reader was kind enough to point it out to me, so I'm fixing it in all future versions. It has to do with the city of Pasadena... Can anyone here guess what I mixed up?!

    2. In the second paragraph from that bottom, that should read: "...without revealing HIMself" (not HERself), LOL. Wrote that too quickly ;).

    3. Marilyn, I can't wait to hear what your predictions are for Aurora, Donovan and Gideon. I love to hear where an author sees their characters after the book ends. As for the error in chapter 18, I've read it over and over and couldn't find one. Then I reread your clue saying it was about the city of Pasadena. I had to look it up on a map, but my guess is that Pasadena isn't located near the water.


    4. Bingo, April. LOL.... I laughed when I read that. I've been to Pasadena many times and the Angels stadium doesn't have any ocean front views. LOL..... But, the oversight didn't affect the outcome of the story at all.....but there are some really beautiful beaches near LA, especially south of there that are quiet (during the week) that would have made lovely settings and would have been an easy drive over from Pasadena.
      Marilyn, I can hardly wait for what really happened, versus my wayout take. ;-) . I know it is going to be really good.

    5. April, yep!!! You got it right! :)
      And LOL, Karen! I feel as though I need to apologize to EVERY person who lives or has ever set foot in Pasadena for being such a dunderhead!!
      I've been to L.A. -- although it was years ago -- and, in my recollections, I was thinking about the Santa Monica beaches... But the cities got confused in my mind because, while researching Route 66, the western end of the highway had been listed on different sites as being in L.A., in Pasadena and/or in Santa Monica. So, I just foolishly thought there was some coastline in Pasadena, too...well, NOPE! Not unless Aurora and Donovan wanted to drive for at least 25 miles!! (*burying head in embarrassment*)
      I sent the corrections in to the formatter two weeks ago and can't wait until we can upload the changes. I hope you'll all tell me (PLEASE!!) if you spotted anything else that my editors and I somehow missed... I'm still cringing over the Pythagoras/Archimedes mistake in A Summer in Europe that I told Kensington about over 2 years ago and they STILL haven't fixed it! Ahhhhhhh!

  3. Karen- WOW, you blew me away. I'm all in for your look ahead ;)

  4. Muse,
    I also love your take on the future! It's exactly what I would want for them. As for our future, I hope you're right and that there's a sequel....;-)

    I don't have time to think right now, but I'll be back tonight or tomorrow with some thoughts. In the meantime, thank you for another wonderful book, Marilyn!

    1. Elaine,
      I'm thrilled you enjoyed the story -- thank you!!! -- and I'm looking forward to your thoughts whenever you have time to share them ;).

      Deb, I hope your week has been improving as it's gone along and that you're feeling a bit better after that bad fall... xox

  5. I am feeling better and today should be in the 60s LOL gotta love mother nature
    I can't wait until you tell us more about Aurora today

    1. Deb,
      Mother Nature is clearly having some sort of split-personality issues... ;)
      As for Aurora in the present day, I will most definitely share my take on that with you all -- just wanted to give everyone a chance to make their predictions first because I love reading them!!

  6. Tell us what you thought about the last section. Were your expectations met?

    This book was brilliant and the only way to describe my feelings about the last section is WOW! It met all my expectations and then some. All the pieces to the puzzle were finally put into place and I was left feeling amazed at how well everything fit together and how I never saw any of the answers coming. Every one of my previous questions now had an answer and I was left completely satisfied with the outcome. I couldn't have asked for a better ending.


    1. April,
      Thank you! Just thank you...
      I'm so, so glad you enjoyed it, that the puzzle worked for you, and that you liked the ending!!

  7. Your final thoughts on Aurora and Donovan:

    I loved the romance that bloomed between Aurora and Donovan and was slightly disappointed when he chose not to go with her when she left for college. I understood his reasons, but the romantic in me just wanted to see these two together. I was doing cartwheels when I read the last chapter and Donovan was meeting Aurora for her birthday, the chemistry was still there between them and they were going to be attending college together. It was the perfect way to end the book.


    1. The romantic in me couldn't let them stay apart either ;).
      Although the question did come up, as far as their long-term relationship, if they stayed together *forever* or just for a few college years... It's one of those things that, depending on a reader's worldview and feelings about the lasting nature of relationships, could go either way...

  8. What was the biggest surprise for you in the novel?

    For me the biggest surprise was Andy Reggio turning out to be Gideon. I did not see that coming. In fact, a part of me always questioned whether or not Gideon was still alive. When the motorcyclists showed up at the Cadillac Ranch taking pictures, I thought maybe one of them would turn out to be Gideon in disguise, but the way they tailed Aurora and Donovan, always staying the same distance away from them, never catching up to them, made me think they were really the bad guys. After the shooting of Sebastian James though, Billy Neville introduced the other motorcyclist as Andy Reggio and I believed him, never giving it another thought until Aurora put the clue together and realized Andy was Gideon. How brilliant that the name Andy Reggio was just Gideon Gray rearranged. Loved that!


    1. :) :)
      I'm so glad you didn't see that coming, April, and didn't guess the word jumble with the names too early!!! It was impossible for me to gauge by myself, once I'd written it, if I'd managed to create enough doubt and red herrings with that particular puzzle. But I'd really hoped at least some of it would come as a surprise for readers!!

  9. Now for my favorite question. Fast forward five years and tell us what Aurora, Donovan and Gideon are up to.

    I see Aurora and Donovan married with a little boy, living in Flagstaff. It was the place where they got their fresh start together and it's become home. Aurora is working at a library, her sanctuary, which she loves. Donovan is persuing a career in architecture. Aurora's parents and Donovan's mom have all moved nearby to be closer to their children and grandson. They all needed a fresh start now that they knew the truth about what happened to Gideon and Jeremy. Too many secrets had to be kept back in Minnesota. Aurora's parents also wanted to make it easier for Gideon when he decides to visit. As for Gideon, he is still Andy Reggio, never quite settling down, still popping in and out of his family's lives, needing his freedom, but is starting to share more of his life with them and visiting them more in person.


    1. Nice take, April. I thought about keeping them in Flagstaff, too. But decided that it would be easier for Andy to see everyone if they were in LA, plus the big Architectual Masters programs at UCLA were where he would potentially want to go to further his education. Now 10 years out?....... Hmmmmmmmm

    2. April and Karen,
      I just grin like a little elementary schoolgirl whenever I read these predictions! I *love* all of your thoughts and it's giving me ideas... :-)
      A big SMOOCH to you both for making me smile and for thinking about Aurora and Donovan beyond the pages of the novel!!

    3. April thanks for those wonderful answers
      I'm all with you about being disappointed when Donovan chose not to go with Aurora but the more I thought about it the more sense it made and the more it was exactly what the Donovan I had come to know would have done.

  10. Ok here are my answers
    I couldn't stop reading, could not put the novel down as soon as the bad cop showed up it was an adrenalin filled terrifying, exhilarating ride. WOW
    There were a lot of things that surprised me but I guessed that Gideon was Andy and even though Aurora believed he was alive I can see where she wouldn't recognize him. It's kind of like seeing your postman or the dental hygenist in street clothes you know you know them but just can't place them. More than that is the Marilyn made it believable.

    The biggest surprise was AZ I knew that Aurora wanted to go "away" to school but I saw her maybe in Chicago not too far but far enough away.

    In five years I see Aurora and Donovan married and living in Michigan where she's working at a university research library and Donovan is working for one of the three car makers in the design department.
    they are still childless as they love to travel but are planning a family soon. I think Aurora's parents are still where they were but that Donovan's mom has moved to a mother in law's apartment in their home.

    Marilyn I was in awe of this novel. It was not was I expected and you had me biting my nails, breathing heavy and smiling and crying at the same time.

    nuf said!

    1. Deb, thank you again and again for reading this story, for being enthusiastic about it, for your constant support of my writing (no matter what the genre :) and for just being such a wonderful advocate for authors. I think you're an amazing lady and an incredibly kind person. <3 <3 And I loved reading your predictions, too!! All of the states you ladies mentioned for Aurora's possible future residence make sense, and it's so interesting to imagine these alternate futures for the characters...

      I do, of course, have my "director's cut" edition (*grin*), and I'm very curious to know what you all might think of that!

      Maybe we can give Elaine a couple of days to add her thoughts on the story questions and/or for you, Karen and April to say anything more, if you'd like, and then I can share mine early next week. For that, though, I'm going to need your email addresses!! (Deb, I have yours! Karen, April and Elaine -- please just email me privately with the one you'd like me to use -- I'm at MarilynBrant AT Gmail DOT Com)

      The four of you have been so wonderful and have shared so many thoughtful insights on Aurora, Donovan and Gideon that, rather than simply summarize the new parts, I'd like to just give each of you a copy of the expanded book :). No pressure to read this, btw! But, if you do, you'll find it includes the entire PDF version of The Road to You but with the addition of the 2014 parallel story I wrote that's woven in between each of the original chapters. I've gone back and forth on whether to actually release this edition to the public -- it shades the story more toward the women's fiction genre -- but one of the things I love to explore as an author is the way a woman's memory of past events influences her reactions to future ones. So, getting to play with that concept is major reason why I wrote the present-day storyline. I loved the idea of being able to jump back and forth in time, so that Aurora's memories of 1976 and 1978 would resonate forward to 2014 and, briefly, to 2020 as well...

      Anyway, fewer than a dozen people have actually read this whole version (and most of them were members of a local book club, who'd wanted me to release the expanded edition rather than the young-adult one, LOL), but I had lingering questions about the pacing, so I've been waiting and pondering. If you end up reading the 50 or so extra pages, I would love to know whether you think the additions are worth keeping or if it was, ultimately, a better idea to leave them out!

      Have a wonderful weekend, all!! I'll be at a writing retreat until Sunday night, but I'll look forward to checking in again when I get back. xo

    2. Marilyn, first you're making me blush but thank you. I love to spread my love of reading around and will shout from whatever mountain that's available to me. There are however authors who just really speak to me and that I "get" as well and you happen to be one of them. It's always most amazing to me when I read a bestselling author and don't care for any of their writing, I know it's me and it's so true what someone once said that no two people ever read the same book.

      What a wonderful gift you've given us with you time and now to give us such a special gift of this extended book. I may not be able to get to it right away but I predict it will tempt me until I give in :)

      I can't wait to see where she did end up and how she turned out and what everyone is doing.

      You're a gem and you're so willing to dedicate your time to readers

      So I say thank you!!

    3. Still here! Things were going swimmingly until a huge wave of work came crashing on my laptop. Or something like that. Anyway, I couldn't agree more with the comments that have been posted. That Gideon turned out to be Andy Reggio was a total surprise, but the character of Andy Reggio seemed like an anomaly and it should have set off some warning bells for me. Just so conveniently had that envelope of information. Another thing that strikes me is Donovan's comment regarding Aurora's family turning everything into a puzzle. It just hit the nail squarely on the head. But Gideon and Jeremy's disappearance wasn't a game, and I think it still bothers me that, until the end, Gideon had to continue to let their families believe that they were both dead. That's the kind of thing that leads to divorce, suicide....all those bad things and more. Of course, there were good reasons, but if it were MY kids.... you know, it's one of those things.

      There are so many little things in this book that I can totally relate to! In particular, I'm thinking of Aurora being worried about the hotel key from the Cactus Flower Inn. I can see myself worrying about the exact same thing, and at the same time realizing how ridiculous a worry it is. And Nancy Drew and the whispering statue! I have that one!!

      In the end, it was a totally satisfying read. I have no doubts that Aurora and Donovan will remain a couple. My younger daughter has managed to maintain a long distance relationship for years and while it wasn't easy, I think their feelings for each other have kept it alive.


    4. Elaine thanks for your thoughts and comments. I know exactly what you mean about wanting to know where your kids are.
      Do you think then Giddeon's subterfuge was overkill? And remember even at the end Gideon never really went home again.
      My take on it was that the Gideon before was killed along with Jeremy, that the incident changed him, his funloving self was changed atomically when he witnessed his bff being killed in front of him. Also I think he really feared going home not knowing who to trust. I'm kind of surprised he put his trust in the undercover cop.

      I hope you get a bit of rest from crazy work stuff

    5. I think Gideon's subterfuge was necessary, but it felt like it was over the top a little. It's like everything in his life had to be a puzzle, including himself. But he's still young, I keep forgetting, and we're all a little different at that age. You're right, when he witnessed his friend get shot in the head, something had to click in him. It's hard to witness someone get killed at any age, for that fact. I agree, I'm a little surprised he could trust anyone.

      Trying to catch up on some rest - definitely feel better, thanks!

    6. Elaine, I completely understand about being swamped by work! That's happened to me more than once this month already... Glad you're getting to rest a little more now! Thanks so much for carving out some time to respond this week in spite of all you had to do and for your thoughts -- particularly on what surprised you and what you could relate to in the story!!

      BTW, I agree with you and Deb in regards to Gideon going overboard on the subterfuge. He had his reasons, yes, and some of those reasons could be seen as protective measures for his family and/or self-defense mechanisms because of the emotional trauma he'd experienced when Jeremy died...but there were a lot of things that fell into a gray area, too. IMO, Gideon's behaviors left Aurora struggling with the choices her brother made through the entire story and, I'd go so far as to say, through her entire life.

      One of the biggest points I get to highlight in the expanded version of the novel is Aurora's reaction to Gideon's behavior from the point of view of a *mother*, not just a *sister.* As powerfully as she felt the loss of his disappearance as a teen, it's a different story altogether when you're thinking about what their mom and dad must have experienced...

      So, I find Gideon's behavior to be an endlessly fascinating topic to discuss because I don't think most people would see it as either purely heroic or purely hurtful. Though I didn't write his actual viewpoint, if we got inside of it, I think we'd find it filled with the kind of odd mix of rationalizations that swirl around in someone's head when they're trying to justify an action. Partly wanting to be "good," partly needing to be self-serving. Wanting *justice* as he'd define it, rather than merely the rule of law. Being loving but also being a little delusional. The questions that come up repeatedly in my mind with him are: Was Gideon doing the right thing for the wrong reason...or the wrong thing for the right reason? And, in the end, who's really qualified to decide what constitutes "right" vs. "wrong" in this situation? In my opinion, anything that would cause that kind of acute pain to his dearest family members could not be entirely matter how solid the motive.

      To me, Gideon is complex. I'm almost equally compelled and frustrated by him. It makes me want to write the next decade or two of his life from his point of view, just to see if I can ever fully nail down his character, LOL. (Which is, I realize, an odd thing to say about a fictional guy I created, but it's true. ;) You're right, Elaine -- everything about him and his life is a puzzle -- even, to some extent, to me!!

    7. Elaine thanks for letting me bounce off thoughts with you. I love seeing novels through other eyes.
      Do get some rest :)

      Marilyn you know what always takes me by surprise is how different characters misbehave even for their authors :)
      thank you for delving into this with us these last several weeks!

    8. LOL, Deb!!
      So true about those misbehaving characters ;).
      Again, many thanks to you ALL for a wonderful book club month, and you should each get an email from me tonight with the expanded version, just for fun!