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Thank You For Being A Friend

Welcome to another edition of Tuesday’s Featured Writer Posts!  The fun was kicked off by thriller writer CJ West and you can still find out why Dexter Morgan might be CJ’s best friend or what his Top 10 Chocolate Guilty Pleasures are!

Today, I’m chatting with Patricia Sands, author of her mostly true story, The Bridge ClubAnd guess what?!  She’s giving away a FREE E-Book Copy to one lucky commenter!  To better your chances of winning, just tweet this post about friendships and I’ll enter you for a SECOND chance to win!

E-Book Cover

For more than forty years, the mantra of the eight women in the Bridge Club has been one for all and all for one. Beginning their monthly soiree in the psychedelic Sixties, unpredicted twists of fate weave through the good times and strong friendship they share as the years pass. The constant from one decade to the next is loyal and nonjudgmental support, even when agreeing to disagree is the final solution. From the exhilarating cultural changes of their early times together through the zoomer years, their connection never falters.

As they celebrate turning sixty (give or take a year) at a group birthday weekend, each woman recalls a challenging time in her life when the Bridge Club came to the rescue.  After tossing around ideas mixed with a generous helping of common sense and a large dose of laughter they decide to refer to that time as their SOS. Eight chapters document each one’s story.

Paperback Cover

Everything is put into perspective and the strength of their friendship is truly tested when one of these women faces a life-altering decision. Her choice profoundly affects all members of the group, pushing the limits of their beliefs and values. The unique alliance they share is confronted with a crisis none of them might have imagined.

*****

Let’s begin!  Girlfriends.  You got ’em?  You know, those women in your life who are there when you’re having fun, and even more so when you’re not.  Long lasting female friendships are hard to find.  In today’s world and economy it’s likely you’ll move around looking for jobs, lose touch, or maybe you remain friends, but it’s only a random birthday message on Facebook once a year.  I have more conversations waiting in line at the post office!

So what makes a good friend? 

I think for me it’s total acceptance.  It’s about knowing someone has flaws, but loving them unconditionally so they know they can say anything to you, and you’ll both survive.  I have 3 good female friends that fit this bill.  My dear friend, Amy, whom I visited in South Korea this past April, my friend (and someday sister-in-law) Jen, who’s asked me to be a flower girl in her wedding (Yep, flower girl!  And I’m totally excited!), and Cat, who is also getting married and asked me to perform the ceremony!  You can probably all start calling me Pastor Jess now.

But I have another great group of women in my life whom I met just last year August.  My book club.  We recently took a book club getaway to Madeline Island, which is part of the Apostle Islands, to tour a bunch of sites that were in the books we read, Moon Over Madeline Island and Back to Madeline Island.  This is us.  *Note: We are missing 4 members who couldn’t make it.  😦

L to R: Pat, Sharon, Dorie, Candy, Nan, Me and Mike. We’re wearing our matching Madeline Island t-shirts!

Many of these women have been friends for upwards of 20+ years.  Coincidentally, they all lived on the same block while their kids were growing up.  Though all but one has moved from that street, they still get together for book club, and bunko, and wherever friends are needed.  I was invited into the mix by Candy, who works with me and knows how much I love to read.  These wonderful and inspiring women invited me in and now brag to other book clubs that they have a “token young person.”  I’m not sure I can speak for everyone in their mid-20’s, but I sure do love chatting with these women!

So when I read Patricia’s book, The Bridge Club, and listened to the stories of the women in her life, I imagined my book club.  I feel so honored to hear their stories each month because they’ve all gone through so much and come out stronger.  That is exactly the kind of friendship that Patricia lives, and oh yah, she writes about it too!

Take it away, Patricia!

Patricia Sands

Thanks for inviting me to hang out with you on your fabulous blog, Jess! Who wouldn’t want to spend time in the Happiness Project and when you suggested we talk about friendship … well … what could be better?

I was SO delighted to hear about your book club! Who knows where it might lead?

As you know, I’m all about friendship. It’s what prompted me to write The Bridge Club and I am certain the connections women share will always be the underlying theme of anything I write. I’m excited to report I’ve just finished the first draft of my next novel and have sent it off for editing. I’d love to tell you the name but still haven’t decided on a title. Yikes! I’ll keep you posted!

The whole premise for TBC was indeed the awesome friendship the 10 women of my real-life bridge club still share after more than four decades. That calls for another “yikes!” – time flies, my friend, so treasure all of it! And ten for bridge? Don’t ask. That’s another story! As it says on the book cover, “it was never just about the cards”.

From our days in the psychedelic 1960’s as hip, liberated twenty-somethings (or so we thought) to our present day status as “zoomers’”, vibrant, active sixty-somethings, our connection has been a constant.

Although we are all the same age give or take a year and share the same values, that’s about all we truly have in common. We have very diverse personalities, opinions, sizes, shapes, hairstyles, careers, bank accounts, and families. Yet at the same time, we are one.

The Bridge Club (That’s Patricia in the middle)

We share a history full of memories that range from deliriously happy to devastatingly sad and encompass everything in between. It’s been quite a ride made all the more meaningful by knowing each one of us is “there” for whatever we need. It hasn’t always been everyone responding at the same time but rather whoever had the best to offer the situation. No matter what, we are always all in the loop and ready to bring what we can.

Honesty, trust and reliability define the best of friends. You know when friendships are real and unconditional. They are the voices that unselfishly celebrate your successes, pick you up when you are down, give you honest feedback (particularly on early writing drafts!), and make you laugh out loud when you need it most. You do the same for them. It all goes without saying.

Who can’t find time to be a good friend? Women’s friendship supports, empowers and inspires. We share our dreams with each other and encourage success, helping however we can. Women “get it”.

Since publishing TBC, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving e-mails from women of all ages (the youngest being 24 and the oldest 82) writing about the valued connections they share with other women. It’s such a buzz to hear what readers have to say about their own experiences and how they relate to the story.

I’ve been fortunate to have great friendships throughout my life and I hope that somehow I inspire others to treasure the ones they have. On occasion I hear from readers who tell me they have never experienced true friendship. As sad as that is, it’s never too late. Take a deep breath. Take a chance. Connect.

Whether you are 15, 35, 65 or 85, girlfriends are girlfriends … if friendship is honest and true some things never change. To have a good friend, you must BE a good friend. It’s as simple as that!

*****

Thank you so much Patricia for hanging out at the Happiness Project, and Thank You For Being a Friend! 

Be sure to follow Patricia and her upcoming new book!  You can find her at Patricia Sands’ Blog, on twitter, and on Facebook!

And now, to serenade you, a favorite song of Patricia’s!  Tune in and tell us about the friendships you’ve made in life, or the ones you’re still hoping to form!

Guest Post by CJ West: His 10 Chocolate Guilty Pleasures

And we’re back!  This past Tuesday, I had thriller writer, CJ West over talking about his new short, Thugbook!  Today, CJ’s back at the Happiness Project reminiscing about his 10 untouchable guilty pleasures, and they all have to do with chocolate!  You see, CJ is working out for his upcoming debut on MANday, but a guy can be guilty once in awhile.  Check out his faves!

My Ten Chocolate Indulgences

I’ve been a chocoholic since birth so my ten indulgences had to be chocolate flavored. For those of you who follow me, you know I’m working out hard to get ready for the MANday wager I’ve got going on with Jillian Dodd. We have a bet that I can get in good enough shape to show off my abs on her blog in July.

Needless to say, I’m not eating a lot of chocolate right now. At least I can share my love in pictures. Drool with me.

#1 Chocolate Ice Cream

Before MANday, chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce was a regular treat. No special occasion required. Just open the freezer and there it is waiting for you to dig in.  Everyone has a little stress, right?

#2 Hershey’s Special Dark

At some point in my chocolate loving life, I moved on from milk chocolate to dark chocolate and I never looked back. Hershey’s makes this giant bar that is way too much for one person to eat in one sitting, but when you sit in front of the computer for hours typing away, it is quite possible to eat the entire bar without realizing.

#3 Nestle’s Toll House Morsels

Once upon a time I always had a bag of these in the house, not the little bag, but the giant bag. Okay, I admit it, I usually had two or three. They are great kept in the freezer. They don’t stick to your hands that way. You can carry them around for 5 minutes or so before they are all gone. If chocolate was a vegetable, there would be no need to stock other foods.

When these are in the house I eat way too many so I had to stop stocking them.

#4 Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles

I discovered these about two years ago. Delicious. They melt in your mouth the way harder chocolates can’t. A great indulgence, but not a diet staple.

#5 Entenmann’s Chocolate Donuts


I did a horrible thing to my ex-wife. I introduced her to Entenmann’s Chocolate Donuts for breakfast back when I got tons of exercise and was young enough to burn off the extra calories. DO NOT start eating these for breakfast. They are like crack. Not as bad for you, but they are every bit as hard to give up. Just say no!

#6 Toll House Cookie Dough

In my mind there isn’t another kind of cookie. I judged a baking contest last year and tasted some great cookies. The winner was an amazing combination of nuts and cranberries and dark chocolate. Still, if it was up to me, I’d pick a basic Toll House Cookie any time. And before you can get to the cookie, you have to eat some dough. Could you really bake cookies without eating at least one spoonful?

#7 Toll House Cookies

Yes, I do bake some of that dough! In my younger days we didn’t get sweets unless we baked them ourselves. I can remember my brother and I, we were teens, eating an entire batch before they cooled!

#8 Devil Dogs

One of the few store bought treats we got as kids. Mom got them from the thrift store and froze them so they wouldn’t go bad (like that would happen).  We never waited for them to thaw before eating them and to this day I prefer them frozen. If you live in a place where they don’t have these, get in your car now.

#9 Peanut Butter squares

In tenth grade a friend’s mother gave me a recipe to make these. They are similar to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup minus the preservatives and salt. To this day I can recite the recipe and whip them together in 15 minutes.  If there was a number 11 on this list, it would be a peanut butter square sundae with chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. Pure Heaven!

#10 Brownie Sundae

My ideal dessert wouldn’t look exactly like this one, but I chose the image because the brownies have chocolate chips! A must when you make brownies. I’d switch to chocolate ice cream and add a generous layer of whipped cream. Ahh.

Thanks for joining me in this virtual orgasm of chocolate goodness!

Thanks CJ for sharing your guilty pleasure list with us!  I had no idea what loving chocolate was like as I only eat 1-10 of those.  😉

Your turn!  What guilty pleasures sneak their way into YOUR cupboards?

 

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