Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Girl Talk

by Christine Wells

As many of you know, I'm still basking in the afterglow of a wonderful weekend with friends, romance writers and all-round good eggs, Anna Campbell and Denise Rossetti.

It's been so long since I took some quality time to just sit and talk with the girls that I'd forgotten what a pleasure it can be. I have a husband and two young sons at home. My dog's a girl, but much as I love her, she's not the talkative type:)

So it was a special kind of bliss to me that for an entire weekend, all Denise, Anna and I did was eat, drink, swim, go for walks and talk, talk, talk. And you guessed it, the subject of our conversation was most often writing.

We even managed to do some serious story plotting, although it somehow managed to descend into a ridiculous punning challenge--about apples, of all things! Yes, I'm sure you all know that Anna was the instigator of that one. We had imbibed a few glasses of pink Veuve Clicquot by then, so maybe that will rest as our defence:) I wish all the Banditas and our buddies could have been there--especially as Anna was doing the cooking!

I was thinking how lucky I am in my friends, not only here in Australia but on the internet and in particular, in the lair. I wondered how I'd distill the essence of those friendships and explore them in my stories.

Some writers are brilliant at capturing the special, sometimes flawed, but ultimately strong and supportive relationship true female friends have. Jenny Crusie comes to mind, and so does Eloisa James with her Desperate Duchesses series. Reading about solid female friendships gives me such a warm feeling. Experiencing the real thing is priceless.

What's your favourite thing to do with your girlfriends? What great fictional friendships stay with you? Do you have any wonderful friendship moments, fictional or otherwise, to share?


mariska said...

Morning !

flchen1 said...

Christine! My favorite thing to do with girlfriends is to chat and ideally, to snack on yummies while we do that! We so rarely have time to talk and get caught up, so those times that we carefully orchestrate months in advance so that we *can* are very precious!

I did just finish a good "friendship" book--Emilie Richards' Happiness Key. Four women who happen to be neighbors end up being friends--I enjoyed it very much. Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street series does friendships awfully well, too.

Glad that you were able to enjoy some girl time, too!!

Congrats on the GR, Mariska!

Kirsten said...

Hi Christine! What a fantastic post. I adore my girlfriends in all the places I've found them -- especially those I found in college, AND those I've found in the Romance Bandit Lair.

The first book I thought of when you talked about friends was an Eloisa James series, but not the desperate duchesses. I can't remember the title, but it's the one where they're all sisters. I loved those books so much. I'm very close with my sister, even though she lives 3,000 miles from me!

I tried to write a series that has a strong female friendship connection -- my faerie handmaids are dear friends, even though faeries don't usually get emotionally attached to each other. So send out a little prayer and maybe someone in NY will appreciate it and I can share it with others! :-)

Nancy said...

Mariska, congratulations on taking home the rooster.

Christine, I also spent last weekend in girl talk. The women in my college class were the first admitted as freshmen at a formerly all-male school. We graduated about 70 in a class of 300. I didn't know a lot of my classmates because I transferred in as a sophomore (and missed the insanity of that first year), but I've gotten to know many of them through this annual weekend at the beach.

We rent a house and condo, and a classmate who has a condo graciously opens it up. Every woman for whom we have an email address is invited. We go to the beach, order in food (though a couple of women graciously cooked this year, and the food was fabulous) and catch up with each other.

The participants list fluctuates every year, but we figure about half of the women in the class have come at least once. We have a wide range of interests, all love a good joke, and have, at this point, more common life experiences than we did in college. I've made wonderful friends through these weekends.

Blanking on friendships in books, though. I'll have to think on it and come back.

Nancy said...

Hi, Fedora--

We do a lot of eating at our beach weekends. And anytime Romance Bandits gather in person, food plays a major role! I guess anyone who saw the blog about our dinner at Jeanne's figured that out, though.

Joan showed up at M&M with those giant chocolate chip cookies!

Nancy said...

Hi, Kirsten--

The Lair has been a wonderful source of friendship for me, too. For such a diverse bunch, we've solidified remarkably well.

I found another group of great writing friends at DragonCon, taking A.C. Crispin's workshop. I happened to take it for the first time with a group of people who had all taken the beginning and advanced workshops the prior year and had an online group. They let me join and have been a wonderful source of writing support and friendship.

Not a "girl talk" group, though, as we have several terrific guys there.

Anna Sugden said...

I'm most envious of you, Christine. What a fun weekend!

I love meeting with my friends and chatting over good food and glasses of wine. And, it's one of the reasons I love conference, because I get to catch up with all my pals.

Susan Mallery always writes great series and her family relationships, especially between the women are wonderful. I've just been reading her Titan women series and loving every moment of each book.

Kate Carlisle said...

Awww, Christine, what a lovely post. I wish all the Banditas could've been there with you last weekend. Especially with Anna doing the cooking! ;-)

All your boys at home reminds me that I grew up with FOUR brothers! Can you picture it? Oy! And since we moved a lot, I would have to make brand new friends every few years. (Oh dear, that sounds pitiful! Poor me! LOL)

I mention my pitiful background just to emphasize that the girlfriends I have now are very special to me indeed. Especially my wonderful writer friends -- including the lovely Banditas -- who truly understand me and my tormented brain! *g*

Congrats, Mariska! Hope you and the Golden One have a fun day!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Mariska! One rooster for you!

Christine, what a lovely post. And wasn't it a great weekend. I remember sitting in the twilight drinking pink champagne and looking forward to a dinner of prawns and bugs (better than they sound) and oysters and hanging out with you guys, that it didn't get much better than this.

I really like the way Liz Carlyle portrays friendships between characters in her books. Mind you, she's great at portraying everything in her books!

Keira Soleore said...

Christine, how I loved your post!! So glad to hear that two of my top friends were spending time together and with a good friend of theirs.

Everything in life can go, but friendships are what sustain me.

And you can absolutely lay the blame for puns and other such language silliness at Fo's door. It's always at her instigation.

Mariska, good on you for catching the chook.

Michelle said...

hi christine! great post! it sounds like a fun girl time and thank you for sharing some of your pictures... those oysters look especially yummy :)

as for my favorite friendship book, lisa kleypas' wallflowers come to mind (b/c i'm reading devil in winter right now). also, i like a lot of nora roberts' girl friendships in her book series like the three sisters island series about witches and the key trilogy.

my favorite thing to do with my girlfriends is to just drive around ("road trips" i guess) where we don't really have a place in mind and spontaneously stop at interesting places we find along the way.

Keira Soleore said...

Well, now, Fo, what is this prediliction for bugging out among you folks Down Under? In your defense, my husband tried some on his trip there many years ago (BEFORE we were married *sniff*) and said they were very tasty.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Christine, so glad you have your girl-squee moments with Anna and Denise. You realize, of course, that we're all terribly jealous of you.

As many of you know, my best girlfriends are my three daughters. We try to get together once a year, sans children, and do silly girlish things. Day spas are great. One year we went on a cruise to Mexico. They accompanied me to Florida for a family reunion with an older brother I hadn't known I had until five years ago.

They're funny, talented, never fail to make me laugh, and two of them are my beta-readers.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I wish I could have been there. I bet you all had a blast.

I like to do different things with different girlfriends. I have one friend who I can always depend on to go to rock concerts with me. Others, we have a great time going out to lunch. When I travel out of state to see friends, I love to do touristy things with them or just explore their neck of the woods.

Virginia said...

Congrat mariska on nabbing the rooster!

I guess my best friend are my sisters. One lives about an hour away and the other about 3 hours. My older sister and I get together pretty often and just spend the chatting and going out to lunch, she is the one that live 1 hour away. About once or twice a year we go to visit my younger sister and spent the weekend and its always a lot of fun.

Cassondra said...

Christine, what a wonderful subject!

I admit that it's only since I've found writers--both songwriters and novelists--that I've been able to cultivate those close friendships with women. I have no explanation for this, so I've come to the conclusion that I was just too different in mindset from the typical small town female, to be able to develop those close bonds. I had to find my way into creative communities where women are able to celebrate one another's differences as well as our similarities.

Once I found writers, I've come to value those friendships--my girlfriends--above all others. And yes, drinking coffee, wine, and just talking are my favorite things to do. I particularly love fixing dinner and having a group of friends around my table, or scattered about my kitchen, laughing and joking and just having a good time. I always leave those meetings feeling like I can conquer the world.

Anna Campbell said...

Oy, I resemble that remark, Miss Keira! I'm SURE I didn't start the apple silliness. I think Miss Wells might have. Ding Dong Bells. You can always blame the Wells!

Bugs are absolutely delicious - kind of like a mini lobster. Num, num, num! Your husband is not exaggerating their tastiness, believe me!

Lady_Graeye said...

I don't have any close friends but my daughters and I love to catch a chick flick any time we can!

Christine Wells said...

Mariska, congrats on the rooster! My apologies to all that this blog went up so late and that I haven't been around. I've been dealing with a very ill six year old, poor little man.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Fedora, a woman after my own heart! Thanks for the recommendations. Of course, I know Debbie Macomber but I haven't heard of Happiness Key before.

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, your beautiful fae story will find a home in NY, I'm sure!

Yes, I know the EJ series you mean. I love reading about sisters because I never had one. It's such a special relationship, isn't it? I'm glad you're so close to your sister in the figurative if not the literal sense!

Christine Wells said...

Nancy, what a wonderful idea for a reunion! I'm so impressed that you were a trailblazer for women at your college. And not at all surprised! How fun to discover new friends each year. As for the cooking, I must admit, I so enjoyed not having to cook for anyone else and having someone else cook for me! That's so rare these days.

Christine Wells said...

OMG, Nancy, do you remember that amazing feast we had at Jeanne's this year? Ahhhhh. Getting to talk to you all in person is always so exciting. I think Jeanne's men didn't know what hit them, but we had a fantastic time.

Christine Wells said...

Yes, Nancy, isn't it amazing the way the Banditas get on so well? We had no idea going into the blog but it soon became apparent that this bond we were forming would last.

Love that you made a new group of friends at DragonCon. Writing is a topic of endless fascination to us writers, isn't it?

Christine Wells said...

Anna, Susan Mallery does great female relationships, doesn't she? I loved her 'Sweet' series with the three sisters in the bakery.

And conference...I know the sensible thing for me is to stay home and write next year but I don't think I can resist coming over to see you all! It is so wonderful to know you have a fantastic bunch of friends to meet up with, isn't it?

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Mariska.

Hi Christine,
I spend a lot of time talking on the phone with a few of my girlfriends about clothes and celebrities. Susan Andersen has written a couple of series featuring girlfriends like her Showgirls books.

Gannon Carr said...

Christine, it looks and sounds as if all of you had a wonderful time!

I love time with the girls: eating delicious food, drinking good wine and laughing so hard we cry!

Here's a saying about friends that I think is too fun not to share:

"A friend is like a good bra...hard to find, supportive, comfortable, there to lift you up and is always close to your heart."


p226 said...

Well, now that I'm married, this is moot. But I used to have some stuff that was my favorite thing to do with my girlfriends.

Helen said...

Congrats Mariska have fun with him

Christine what a wonderful post I know exactly what you mean spending time with girlfriends is just the best I am lucky and have 3 daughters and I so love spending time with them but honestly spending time with my girlfriends is awesome. We go out to lunch as often as we can depends what shifts we are working and then I have all of my Romance reader friends and I organize a lunch once a month the next one is 22nd November and we are going to Darling Harbour and may even drop into the Lindt Cafe for desert and the conversation always is on what books we are reading if ever you are in Sydney Christine it would be an honour to have you come with us and of course the invite is to anyone who could make it.

Victoria Alexander has The Effington Series and this is all about the Effington family and the friendship between the Ladies is great.

Have Fun

Helen said...

I forgot to say that is one weekend that would have been awesome you three Ladies together means lots of fun

Have Fun

Gannon Carr said...

Oh, I forgot about fictional friends. I love Lisa Kleypas's Wallflower series. And Nora does friendships, male and female, better than just about anyone. Their banter is just so realistic.

Forgot to say, congrats on the GR, Mariska. :)

Nancy said...

I finally thought of some fictional friendships (all this rain is slowing my brain!): Spenser and Hawk, Nancy Drew and Bess and George, Wren Valere and PB in the Retrievers, Sirantha Jax and her ship's crew, Eve Dallas and Mavis and/or Mira, Stephanie Plum and Lula, the various brides in Leigh Greenwood's Seven Brides series, Carter and Dr. Fraser in SG-1, and I'm sure there must be others.

Nancy said...

Christine, the rule from the beginning at the beach trip was "no cooking," so we ordered in all meals and stocked some cereal and milk. But this year, two people volunteered to cook, and it really was yummy.

Yep, writers can always talk writing!

I feel like not really a trailblazer with the college thing since I didn't show up until after the first year, which was really wild, I hear. But I do enjoy that group of women.

And yay, of course you have to come next year! You can write on the plane.

Nancy said...

Helen, your monthly lunch sounds wonderful. Lindt Cafe? As in . . . chocolate?

Susan Sey said...

Christine, what a great topic! I had lunch with my two dearest friends just this afternoon. We've been friends since my oldest was an infant--they each have a little girl almost exactly my oldest's age.

Now that our girls are first graders, I was so worried we'd grow apart. But the friendship has blossomed into something really strong and rich and independent of our children, & it's been wonderful.

Linda Henderson said...

I like to go to lunch with my girlfriends and then hit the bookstores with a side trip to Starbucks.

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

Well, now that I'm married, this is moot. But I used to have some stuff that was my favorite thing to do with my girlfriends.

tsk tsk tsk......

(shakes head, walks away muttering about men)

Cassondra said...

Christine, you're right, Jennie Crusie does do GREAT groups of women friends. That's not an easy thing--at least not for me. Our Tawny does a great job of that as well, I think. The female friendships in her books always have a ring of truth to them for me.

Beth said...

Great post, Christine! I love how Nora Roberts depicts female friendships. I'm getting ready to dive into the second of her Bride Quartet series about best friends who work together. I can't wait *g*

And I love watching my daughters with their girlfriends - it's such a special bond :-)

catslady said...

I met my best friend because of our daughters and we always did things with them but now they're grown and we still like to play cards or go shopping and hit the casino once in a while lol.

Nancy said...

Christine, how could I forget Holmes and Watson? Especially after Caren's wonderful blog the other day!

Nancy said...

Cassondra, that's a great reminder about Tawny. Going Down Hard and Coming On Strong had a wonderful pair of female friends.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oooh, hey, Mariska! The bird came to visit with you again! :>

Christine, I can't tell you how jealous I am that you got to hang out with Anna and Denise. I would have just LOVED that!!

As to friendships, I have some wonderful girlfriends, some with whom I plot (literally, literary-ily, and metaphorically), and some with whom I trade tories and lies. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

That should have been STORIES, not tories. Snork. I don't usually swap revolutionary soldiers or politicians with friends. Only enemies. Hahahhahaha!

Louisa Cornell said...

Nice catch, Mariska! What did you and the GR do all day?

What a wonderful sweet post, Christine. I am so jealous! Sounds like you had a perfect weekend.

My trip to RWA with Tammy and Jeanie was a great girls' week for us. We had so much fun driving up and back from Alabama. We talked writing, family, sexy men, you name it. Our GPS voice was male and he got quite put-out with us because we kept turning off the route to eat at Cracker Barrel or to stop to buy makeup, etc. He kept sounding testier and testier. Poor thing.

Any time our writers group gets together it is a riot. We usually meet at a local restaurant - we have few that we keep to and eat, critique and laugh. The poor waitresses have no clue what to make of us and some of the scenes we discuss get a bit racey. The people around us I am sure think we're nuts.

I love my visits to the Lair because they provide me with support, laughter and loads of fun. Every time I drop by it's like a night out with my girlfriends.

And then La Campbell and I have our annual lunch at RWA which is just the highlight of the week. We catch up on a year's worth of gossip and have a ball. And if Tammy and Jeanie are there the conversation always gets rowdy! Yes, that's mine and Anna's story. Those two lead US astray! Right, Anna?

Then there is my fabulous CP. She spends a great deal of time harassing me online to make sure I am writing. She is just the best! We are as close as sisters and we've never met in person. We talk on the phone and online every day about writing, life, dogs, cats and relatives!

Sneaking away now as if she catches me blogging when I should be writing I am in big trouble!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Sneaking in late to say, GREAT POST, Mme! And I STILL covet those gorgeous red shoes Denise wore in SF!

I treasure all my female friends, and I'm fortunate to have many, including all the fabulous Banditas and BBs! My favorite thing is to just 'hang' and talk. My 3 local BFFs like to have a "girls night" every so often where we drink, eat pizza and watch chick flicks (complete with running commentaries). We haven't done that in awhile... Must remedy that situation soon!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Forgot to say CONGRATS to Mariska on snagging the GR yet again!

What DO you 2 do all day long?!?! Enquiring minds here in the Lair want to know. ;-)


mariska said...

alright, it's officially 'Morning' here.
my Favorite thing to do with my friends, to chat in restaurants or somewhere that we can eat in the same time ^_*b

I saw Nancy mentioned about her fictional friends : Nancy Drew and Bess and George..Have we ever 'met' Nancy ? coz i love to hang out with them too *g*

Nice post Christine !

mariska said...

wow, i just read some 'Enquiring minds' need to know what did i do with the GR.
okay, when i said 'morning' last night, it was actually 'evening' at my place. so i just took GR, for dinner, and give him a nice place to sleep. then He did A Tremendous Great Job by Waking me this morning!

We've always had a great time when GR arounds *g*

p226 said...

tsk tsk tsk......

(shakes head, walks away muttering about men)


Nancy said...

Hi, Mariska--funny we haven't met, hanging with Nancy and Bess and George! *g*

I'm glad the rooster was, you know, useful for a change.

Tawny said...

Oooh, Christine, what a lovely post :-) I'm blessed to have some wonderful friends right here in the Lair. Beth and I talk at least once a week, email daily but only get to hang out in person once a year.

One of my favorite 'friendship' authors is Nora Roberts. When she writes her trilogies, she often weaves such a wonderful story of friendship into them - often thats what stays with me long after the romance aspect of the story.

Cassondra said...

Aunty Cindy said:

Sneaking in late to say, GREAT POST, Mme! And I STILL covet those gorgeous red shoes Denise wore in SF!

OH, yes, those were the hottest shoes ever! THose shoes were smokin'.

Madame had some gorgeous shoes too, though. Those little sparkly hearts on the heels....

Pat Cochran said...

My good friends, Fran & Pam, and I
have been best buds for almost 25
years. We met as members of our HS
band parents group. We served as
officers in the group, chaperoned
activities, even fitting uniforms for the band members. During all of
these tasks, we talked, talked and
talked some more! We still get
together as often as possible for
lunch and a big gabfest! They are the sisters of my heart!

Pat Cochran

Denise Rossetti said...

Late as always... *gloom* But never mind, Oh yeah, that was one fine, fine weekend. I finished up - ahem - extremely relaxed. (Stop that giggling you two.) Lord, it was lovely. And the weather was absolutely gorgeous too.

To add to my pleasure, La Wells peeled my prawns for me because I can't bear those beady eyes and the feelers and spiky legs. Erk! She said I was being a princess about it, but I reckon that's true friendship, don't you? Bless you, sweetie.

And Foanna didn't even blink when I broke not one, but two glasses. *sigh* I was washing up, okay? Still, I reckon I'll be drinking my champagne out of a plastic mug next time.

Note, however, that I remain confident there will be a next time. That's what friends are for. *smile*

Julia Smith said...

I'm late, too, but better late than never. My writer friends from my local RWA chapter have a retreat once a year and I wouldn't trade that estrogen-laden laugh fest for anything. And we manage to cram writer craft sessions in there, too. No better way to fry your mental circuits.

I'm lucky to have a life-long friend who is more dear to me than anyone on the planet, aside from my husband. We just made a pact to adjust each other's sagging nylon socks and wipe the drool from each other's mouths when we're old ladies.

As for fictional friendships, the one that can get me teary is the relationship between Anne Shirley and Dianna Barry from Anne of Green Gables. Kindred spirits - just thinking it makes me teary!