The Week California was on fire.

 

Last week was interesting, to say the least.

When my husband, Martin, woke up before daybreak.

Then he looked at the clock.

Then he woke me up.

Then I got depressed.

The numerous fires occurring right now in Northern California was very visible even seventy-plus miles south: here in San Francisco.

But then I remembered, “People all over my state are burned out of their homes and their towns. They may have lost a friend, a family member, or a pet. I'm not a firefighter who is battling weeks of roaring flames, non-stop. I am lucky.

We have to count their blessing when they come.

A week later, the sky is finally blue again. Still, there are big fires everywhere.

This hasn't been a great year. Still, some good has come from it.

When it's come to my writing, I've kept my head down. Because of it, you'll see Donna Stone Craig go through many trials and tribulations, which, admittedly, is a reflection on our collective year, if not for the same reasons.

And to get out of my head—that is, my character's machinations—I've started my online print bookstore. The details are below. And guess what? You can buy any two books and get another book as a gift from me.

I've been producing audiobooks of my novels. You'll learn more of that by Thanksgiving: just around the time I'll be releasing Assassination Vacation Planner, the 20th novel in the Housewife Assassin series. There's a link below where you can pre-order it.

Talking to other authors also opens up my world. So that it is a part of yours, too, I hope you'll take the time to listen my interview with Robert Dugoni about his latest novel, The Last Agent. I know you'll enjoy our conversation about this fast-paced spy caper. And Robert is always so open about his process as an author. He's a blast to talk to.

The best thing about Fridays: the week is over, and we get to take a few days off. I hope I've given you some great insights, and a few good reads.

—Josie

Photo: The iconic Transamerica tower in a smoke-tinged sky.

Listen to my interview with Robert Dugoni regarding his thriller, THE LAST AGENT

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Podbean / Apple Podcasts / SoundCloud

 

I had a blast with Robert Dugoni, as we discussed his latest thriller, The Last Agent—the second book in his Charles Jenkins series.

The novel’s non-stop fast-paced plot revolves around the ultimate heist: the exfiltration of the undercover Russian Operative who once saved Jenkins’s life. Every step of the way—from Moscow to Scandinavia to the open ocean—Jenkins is hunted by a brutal Russian agent on a killer quest of his own.

You can order Robert Dugoni’s novel, The Last Agent, right now, through Amazon.

You can also read my article containing this interview in THE BIG THRILL

Births, Birthdays, and a Free Book

Josie & Austin
Me, holding my first born: my son,  when he was a mere ten days old. He is now an adult. So not only is he one of my first loves, he is also one of my best friends.

In bad years as well as good ones, there will be births and birthdays.

In the past three weeks, I’ve celebrated one of the former and two of the latter.

And before April, my family will welcome a new little being. I cannot be happier. To celebrate:

This weekend only (Fri-Sat, Aug 28-30) the digital version of my stand-alone novel, The Baby Planner, is FREE in Amazon

It’s a story of maternal longing, a marriage at cross purposes, pre-natal angst, and family secrets.

The story came to me in a flash! I felt the pain of my heroine, Katie Johnson, so intensely! She wanted something so badly that this desire changed her life.

I hope Katie touches you as intensely as she did me as I was writing her.

In the book, as in our lives this very moment, no one can change the past. However, the future is within our grasp.

Between now and the wee one's birth, our family will also celebrate eight birthdays. I plan on toasting, lighting candles, eating cake, and making one wish on my loved ones' behalf: that every new year we celebrate from here on out is better than 2020.

I wish that for you too.

—Josie

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THIS WEEKEND ONLY: FRI – SUN, August 28-30, 2020

Little fires everywhere…

Fire

Which, now have turned into large, dangerous, life-threatening infernos—for those who live near them, and those brave men and women tasked with fighting them..

They are all over the state of California, decimating our forests, many of which are old-growth redwoods, some a thousand years old.

My dear friend Emily posted this photo a day ago. It is a smoke plume from a fire burning near the Sonoma Coast.  The color of the setting sun, reflected on the water, is caused by the smoke.

The fires are not just in Northern California. They are roiling through hills, forests and homes in Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Santa Cruz, Alameda, Marin, and Mendocino counties.

The fires were started by lightning, which we rarely see here. And because we get virtually no rain in the summer months our dry forests are always at risk.

Lives, livelihoods, wildlife, have also have been lost or endangered.

It’s been a hell of a year. Northern California did not need this icing on its 2020 crudcake.  🥺😢🥺

You can read about it here…

—Josie

I miss the Oscars! Hopefully, we won’t be missing it next year.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban copy
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban (c)2017 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

A few years back (think LaLa Land) a journalist friend asked me to help him out at the Oscars.

Um….YES! Sign me up!

I'd already written my novel, Hollywood Hunk. There is an Oscars event scene in it, and after being there, I was pleased to see that how I imagined this iconic event was very close to the real deal.

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Scarlett Johansson. (c)2017 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

As someone who'd done celebrity interviews for various newspapers and magazines, I'd already had a few opportunities to interview directors and actors. But this was my first Academy Awards event—and it was INTENSE, to say the least. I got up close and personal with several actors and directors who I admire, and saw their grace, wit, and modesty first hand. It was a thrill and a pleasure to take a few photos up close, and to see them at their best, even if they were anxious how the night would turn out.

In my novel, the heroine—Hannah Fairchild, a daughter of a famous male actor—saw firsthand how her father's vanity and insecurity ruined her relationship with him. But since he's just died and her proverbial wicked stepmother has contested the will, Hannah is down on her luck and needs money. Despite her best judgment, she takes a job as an up-and-coming actor's personal assistant.

Having been the one constant in her father's life, she thinks she can handle Louis Trollope's indefatigable ego, bouts of insecurity, and his incessant womanizing.

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Samuel L. Jackson. (c) 2017 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

In other words, it's her father all over again.

Along the way, she learns what she really wants from life.

I don't know if the Oscars will take place next year. I hope it does because we need things to go back to normal—

Not that walking in a gown and stilettos on a red carpet to accept an award in front of your peers and tens of thousands of television viewers is at all “normal.”

It's the stuff of dreams.

So are books.

And now, more than ever, because we need a break from reality, I hope you enjoy this book—now free.

—Josie

Yes, I took these pictures of

Nicole Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban (above), Scarlett Johansson (right), and Samuel Jackson (left). Talk about up close and personal!

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Smile. Not just for our sakes, but for yours too.

Smile SidewalkSMILE.

It doesn't matter that you're wearing a mask and no one can see it.

And, yes, go ahead and say, “Hello.” Or, “How are you?” Maybe: “Have a nice day.”

Despite our anxieties, we can still communicate kind words and actions: say, a nod. Better yet, a wave.

I've noticed that, since COVID, I've avoided looking others in the eye. I no longer pet strangers' dogs, let alone ask the age of their pet, or complement their pet's pretty coat.

The only positive thing that's come out of it is that, while looking elsewhere, I see some things I may have missed: like the artist Fnnch's honey bears, which have popped up all over San Francisco. They masked in solidarity with the rest of us.

And when looking down, more street art catches my eye, like the lyrics to that great song from the musical, “Annie,” reminding us to smile.

Frankly, I'm glad to be chided out of my anxiety. I don't like the scaredy-cat I've become.

I don't like projecting my fears onto strangers.

It stops NOW.

If you've felt the same way, join me in regaining some of the humanity we're hiding under our masks.

To honor those who are genuinely superhuman—our first responders, the folks in the front lines of serving the sick, elderly, and the neediest among us; and those who keep essential businesses running so the rest of us can try to get through this as best we can— the very least we can do is to be human. Again.

—Josie

 

There’s going to be an evolution…

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Drove over the Golden Gate Bride this on Friday to get out of  San Francisco's fog and to take a hike. Found this hollowed out redwood tree in Baltimore Canyon, which creeps around the Marin County towns of Larkspur and Corte Madera, right between Mount Tamalpais and King Mountain.

Thousands of years have passed since this was a seedling, which then grew into a giant that towered over this canyon before dying and withering away. All that, just so I could pass it at this very moment: as a shaft of sunlight graces it like a warm smile 🌁

The truth: the world 🌎 does not revolve around me. Instead, we revolve—and, in a good moment, evolve with it.

—Josie

Coronavirus Articles of Interest

My mantra: Knowledge is power.

That being said, here are some websites and some articles (links and pdfs) that may be of interest as we make our way through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Keep safe and sane,

Josie



This Is an Interactive Map of US Coronavirus Case, from the New York Time as of Friday, May 29, 2020.

This is an interactive map that breaks down cases by state, via county. What you should look for here: the colors that chart cases over a day's period. The lighter the color, the better your state or county may be in moving toward—or, hopefully, away—from the pandemic.


Coronavirus “Stay at home” Orders, and What it Means in Your State

PDF: Coronavirus stay-at-home orders_ What it means in your state – The Washington Post

LINK: You're under a stay-at-home order? Here's what that means in your state.

What to look for here:

1: Dividing the number of deaths to cases in your area.

2: Also, number of cases divided by your area's population puts the virus' toll it into perspective.

3: You should also take note as to whether the numbers of cases are going up near you. If so, it's a red sign.


CDC Advice on Prevention

PDF: prevention-H

LINK: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html


Why You Should NOT Try to Infect Yourself
This is a great article as to how doctors view stupid people tricks during the coronavirus pandemic.

PDF: Opinion: Please, Don't Intentionally Infect Yourself With Coronavirus – The New York Times

LINK: https://josiebrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Opinion-_-Please-Dont-Intentionally-Infect-Yourself-With-Coronavirus-The-New-York-Times.pdf


New York City during the Coronavirus Pandemic – An Essay
New Yorker's editor, David Remnick, writes eloquently as to how it's affected his town.

PDF: New York City in the Coronavirus Pandemic _ The New Yorker


Coronavirus Seems to Kill More Men than Women.
Does gender play a part in the virus' outcome? Maybe. This explains why.

PDF: All across the United States, the coronavirus is killing more men than women, data show – The Washington Post

LINK: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/04/coronavirus-men/


The Sad Reality of Why Communal Gatherings Must Cease for the Time Being

PDF:  Choir practice turns fatal. Coronavirus is to blame – Los Angeles Times

LINK: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-29/coronavirus-choir-outbreak


Insightful reportage by BusinessInsider.com

PDF: How Albany Georgia became a coronavirus hotspot from 2 funerals – Business Insider


Are you in a state that has yet to issue a “shelter in place” mandate?

PDF: See Which States and Cities Have Told Residents to Stay at Home – The New York Times

LINK: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-stay-at-home-order.html


Here's how the UK Plans to Go from 16,000 Tests a day to 100,000 by the End of the Month.

PDF: Here’s How The UK Plans To Go From 16,000 Tests A Day To 100,000 By The End Of The Month

LINK: https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilyashton/coronavirus-testing-uk-matt-hancock


How long until it ends?

The first state hit, Washington, is thinking that through now.

LINK: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/11/washington-state-coronavirus-crisis


A Coronavirus patient describes what it's like to live through it.

PDF: All systems shutting down’_ Bay Area coronavirus patient details horrors of infection – SFChronicle.com

LINK: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/All-systems-shutting-down-Bay-Area-15209714.php


YES—It can happen to you too. No state is immune, no matter how large or small the city.

SafeStateNot

LINK: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/20/us/coronavirus-live-news.html


Why we must all play our parts by sheltering in place, walking six feet apart, and masking while in public.

In other words, stay safe.

PDF: How Will the Coronavirus End_ – The Atlantic

LINK: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/


Health workers have a few tricks for solving this vexing problem, but it will take trial and error to find the one that works for you.

PDF: Help! My Mask Fogs My Glasses – The New York Times

LINK: https://www.nytimes.com/article/glasses-fog-wearing-mask-coronavirus.html?smid=em-share

 

New Webinars from the Authors Guild

AG Webinars April2020

CLICK THIS LINK FOR AUTHORS GUILD

You don't have to be a member, but this is just some other great things that the Authors Guild does for its members:, fiction and nonfiction:


Coronavirus Financial Relief

Coronavirus Relief Programs for Authors and Freelancers

Tuesday, April 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

Join us for a discussion of how authors and freelancers can benefit from the government relief programs for economic assistance during the coronavirus crisis. We will cover qualification criteria for unemployment compensation, including those for independent contractors, loan terms, and share information to help you navigate the process.[rephrase as “We will cover qualification criteria for unemployment compensation (including those for independent contractors), loan terms, and information to help you navigate the process.

Participants: Mary Rasenberger (Executive Director, the Authors Guild), Umair Kazi (Director of Policy & Advocacy, the Authors Guild), and Rafael Espinal (Executive Director, Freelancers Union)


Book Videos

Create Your Own Book Video –  Q&A
Monday, April 20, 5:00 p.m. ET

Amy Stewart is offering a free online class about creating your own book videos. Watch the class now on YouTube and then join Amy for a webinar Q&A to talk about how book videos can be useful to authors and to answer your questions about the class. As Amy says, “the technology is so easy that anyone with an iPad or other tablet or smartphone can shoot a high-quality video, add photos or video footage, make simple edits, and publish to online platforms.”


Book Club Strategies

Book Club Strategies for Authors
Tuesday, April 28, 4:00 p.m. ET

Join author Amy Stewart for a conversation about working with both online and in-person book clubs. Amy is the author of six nonfiction books and six novels, and she has held more than 250 book club chats over Skype. In this webinar, we’ll talk about outreach strategies, working with publishers on investing in book club promotion, and ways for authors to manage book club requests.

Samantha M. Bailey – WOMAN ON THE EDGE

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PODBEAN / APPLE / SOUNDCLOUD

 

In Samantha M. Bailey’s debut thriller WOMAN ON THE EDGE, a mother hands her infant daughter to a stranger before falling to her death in front of a subway train. That is, the woman given the child claims they've never met.

But there is enough evidence to prove otherwise. If she's lying, it's because she has a lot to gain: the child she's always wanted, AND access to the fortune the child will one day inherit.

In other words, WOMAN ON THE EDGE has all the right elements for a taut, breakneck domestic thriller.

Sam and I discuss how the concept for her novel came to her, and why the books plot hits home with so women.  And having personally known Sam since WOMAN ON THE EDGE began it’s journey to publication, if your an aspiring author seeking insights and  inspiration, our discussion on that process is one you won’t wanna miss.

 

WIN A DIGITAL COPY OF “WOMAN ON THE EDGE” 

 

Rules:

1: No Purchase Necessary.

2: Listen to the podcast, then answer this question:

What is a topic in the book that resonates with readers who have been new mothers?

3: Send your answer to MailFromJosie@gmail.com

Put “Woman on the Edge Contest” in the subject line.

4: All CORRECT answers will be entered. 

5: Answers must be received no later than midnight PT, April 26, 2020.

________________

CONGRATULATIONS  to  the WINNER of last month's Author Provocateur contest for Robert Dugoni's “A COLD CASE”:  Diana Herschberger

Flash Contest! Enter to win a copy of Andrée Belle’s “Queendom” album

unnamedIf you love jazz, you're in for a treat!

I'm gifting two copies of Los Angeles-based jazz singer Andrée Belle's latest album, QUEENDOM, between now and Wednesday, March 27, 2020.

All you have to do is email me at MailFromJosie(a)gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE ALBUM:

The Return to Queendom is a cosmic, soul, jazz record about transmuting our pain into lessons, expansion, healing, empowerment, and love. This record is an expression of hearthbreakthrouh, a proclamation of reclaiming one's power to create your own inner Queendom/Kingdom. We recorded the album in Earth Wind and Fire's old studio headquarters and the magic is palpable. Grateful that some of LA's finest musicians blessed the record with their gifts. My hope is that it penetrates your heart and inspires you to live your most passionate, creative, and authentic life – where love reigns supreme.

 

To get you even more excited, here's one of the songs on the album, performed live.

If you feel you can't wait for a contest to order it, you'll find it specially priced at $10, from Bandcamp.com RIGHT NOW.

 

 

 

Enter, and good luck!

By the way, you can read about my other contests, as well as freebies and bargain books, here…

Enjoy!

—Josie

Author Provocateur Podcast: Josie talks to Robert Dugoni about A COLD TRAIL

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Podbean / SoundCloud / Apple

 

In New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s latest thriller, A COLD TRAIL, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite returns home to Cedar Grove, where a brutal murder and her haunted past come to a crossroads.

There her husband, lawyer Dan O’Leary, is drawn into representing a local merchant whose business is jeopardized by the town’s revitalization. At the same time Tracy is urged by the local Police Department to put her own skills to work on a new case: the brutal murder of the new police chief’s wife who was also local reporter  investigating a cold-case slaying of a young woman.

As Tracy’s and Dan’s cases crisscross, Tracy may have put everyone she loves at risk.

An expanded print version of Josie's interview can be found in the February 2020 issue of The Big Thrill. 

WIN A DIGITAL VERSION OF THIS BOOK! 

Rules:

1: No Purchase Necessary.

2: Listen to the podcast, then answer this question: 

What is the name of the organization that Robert Dugoni supports in honor of the loss of his dear friend?

3: Send your answer to MailFromJosie@gmail.com

Put “A Cold Trail Contest” in the subject line.

4: All CORRECT answers will be entered. 

5: Answers must be recieved no later than midnight PT, April, 5, 2020

My NaNoWriMo Tips for you…

typewriter_girl copyIf you are participating in National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a., NaNoWriMo) I welcome you can go to my blog and read my daily tips, to be posted throughout November.

Writing novels is a solitary endeavor. It is as much frustrating as it is rewarding—

Which are why tips from other established writers are always welcomed. I hope my nuggets of advice give you some insights as well.

No matter your goal—a new hobby, a creative brain-teaser, a new profession—please know that there will always be a community of like-minded individuals who welcome you with open arms.

NaNoWriMo is proof of that.

Go for it, and enjoy the journey,

Josie

TODAY'S TIP:

Tip #30: The Best Advice I Can Give You Is This: LAST. AUTHOR. STANDING.

Remainders

 

Tip #29: If You Don't Sell Your Novel to a Publisher, Self-Publish It. Here's Why

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Tip #28: Here's What You Do to Keep Your Story from Being a Turkey

Turkey

 

TIP #27: DO NOT Do This in Your Query Letter (Pretty Please)

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TIP #26: …And Yes, You Can Get an Agent. Here's How.

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TIP #25: Do You Really Need a Literary Agent? Maybe. Here's Why

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Tip #24: It's Not What You Mean but How You Phrase It

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Tip #23: Don't Send Out a Half-Baked Novel Manuscript

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Tip #22: If Your Dialogue Doesn't Match the Character, Fix it Now!

 

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Tip #21: Every Word Counts. Here's Why

 

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Tip #20: Write the Way George Clooney Acts: with Confidence

 

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Tip #19: Scene Needs a Rewrite? Change the Point of View

 

Tip #18: Writing a Book is a Marathon—so PACE YOURSELF!

Tip #17: The Emotional Depth of Your Characters is Important


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Tip #16: How to Get Out of “Paragraph Paralysis”

 
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Tip #15: Three Ways in Which You May Be Sabotaging Your Writing Goals

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Tip #14: Is Writing a Craft, or an Art?Sargent in his Studio

Tip #13: Make Sure Your Readers Love Your Hero (or Heroine)

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Tip #12: Choose the Right Time to Write

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Tip #11: Reach Out to Other Authors. Here's How.

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Tip #10: When It Comes to Putting Words on a Page, Better Late than Never

Words

Tip #9: What to Do When Your Story Is Boring

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Tip #8: Every Story Needs a Beginning, a Middle, and an End

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Tip #7: Write it first. Fix it LATER.

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Tip #6: When Your Backstory Should Be Your Story


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Tip #5: Show, Don't Tell

 

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Tip #4: Meet Your Word Count FIRST. Edit it LATERspaghetti-1


Tip #3: Don't Give Up!

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Tip #2: Outline the Plot of Your Story
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Tip #1: Treat Writing as If It's Your Career

Writing Clarity text made in the office close-up on laptop computer keyboard. Business concept for Clarity Message Workshop on the black background with copy space


Enter My Contest for a Free Copy of
The Housewife Assassin's Ghost Protocol (Book 13)

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Just because Halloween is over doesn't mean I can't hand out tricks and treats. If you're one of TWO lucky contestants, you'll be reading about both in the signed hardcover copies of Book 13 of the Housewife Assassin series, GHOST PROTOCOL.

HERE'S HOW TO ENTER:

1: No purchase necessary.

2: Read the excerpt here:
(You may also click the photo)

3: CORRECTLY ANSWER this question:

Who gets arrested by the police?

4: Email your answer to:

MailFromJosie@gmail.com

Subject Line: Ghost Protocol Contest

5: The contest ends MIDNIGHT Pacific Time on Sunday, November 24, 2019.

Good luck to you!

Fantastic Beasts, and were to find them on TV.

carnival-row-amazon-trailer-release-date-cast-news

As the days get cooler, the nights grow longer, our imaginations run even wilder, especially with All Hallows' Eve right around the corner.

No better time to discover some new fantasy TV series.

Amazon Prime has created a beautiful alternate universe—Burgue, akin to 1880 London— in which humans reluctantly co-exist with fairies (“faes”) and other fantastic beasts: gremlin-like kobolds, werewolves, and my personal favorite, “pucks,” who are saytres (half man, half ram).

These fantastic beasts, called “crits” by the humans, are war refugees in Burgue, which was its ally against the barbarous Pacts. Even so, except for those who have secured jobs as servants, they are confined to a ghetto called “Carnival Row.”

When a renowned Fae is murdered, a soldier-turned-police inspector,  Rycroft Philostrate (“Philo”; one of Orlando Bloom's best roles to date) is put on the case. It brings him in contact with his long-lost love: a fae called Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne). Both thought the other dead in the last great battle between the faes and the Pacts. Both feel betrayed by the other. Their attraction and animosity for each other ramps up along with the killings of crits by some unknown mystical force.

Great stuff indeed.

Click below to see a trailer.

Or click the photo above to read a Vanity Fair article about the series' shoots-and-ladders journey from concept to greenlight for series.

Another interesting television series on Netflix, The Frankenstein Chronicles, does a realistic twist on Mary Shelley's famous novel.  This is not a love story, but historical crime suspense about redemption for the early 19th Century London police investigator charged with finding a serial child murderer.

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Or is it?

Starring a Game of Thrones head honcho, Sean Bean, the series takes place in the 1820s (as bleakly post-Jane Austen as you can get), a time when corpses were considered public property and legally dug up by “immortalists” (I LOVE that period-appropriate word for “grave robbers!”) for the scientists and doctors who are pushing Britain's political leaders to approve “the Anatomy Act” so that cadavers can be legally used for medical study.

The world-building is sublimely authentic. Even indoors, the poor actors seem to be freezing, if their chilled breath is any indication.

This show has already gone into a third season and promises more head-spinning plots based on things that go bump in the night.

Click the photo above for a great recap article; or the video box below for a trailer peek.

Scared and Bemused,

Josie

Judy, Judy, Judy…and Renee.

 

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I'm a fan of Old Hollywood. And the fact that Judy Garland's rendition of Over the Rainbow makes me cry every time I hear it was reason enough for me to see Judy, the feature film bio-pic starring Renee Zellweger.

I'm also a VERY big fan of Renee's. As Roxie Hart in the musical movie, Chicago, I thought she knocked it out of the park: she was THE triple threat: singing, dancing, acting.

And it's because of Bridget Jones's Diary that I write humorous women's fiction. (By that I mean the novel, by Helen Fielding, albeit the movie version reinforced my love of romcoms.)

I was NOT disappointed. If you go to see it, I don't think you will be, either.

Can she sing like Judy?

I'll answer that with a question: Can anyone?

What you'll appreciate about Zellweger's performance is that she captures all the gestures, the vocal inflections (Judy's resonance and vocal depth was incomparable), the timing, and the pathos of one of the greatest performers to grace the silver screen, or for that matter a live stage.

I'll be shocked if she doesn't wind the Best Actress Oscar for it.

Below is a trailer of the movie.

Garland once famously said, “If I'm a legend, then why I so lonely?” This is aptly illustrated in the movie. One of the most touching scenes in the movie is how Judy asks two fans to grab a bite to eat with her for just this very reason: with celebrity comes awe, which creates a crevice between the famous and those leading normal lives.

I saw this first hand,  when interviewing celebrities for feature articles.

Debbie Reynolds came to San Francisco, to make the movie, Mother, written, directed, and co-starring Albert Brooks. At that point, and that time in her life, movie roles had essentially dried up for her. She realized it was a great break, perhaps even a comeback role. In fact, it garnered her a Golden Globe nomination.

At the beginning of our interview, she was nervous enough that her hand was shaking as she sipped her coffee.

When she heard that, as a little boy, my son insisted on watching Singing in the Rain over and over again, she kindly replied, “Did you bring a cassette tape? I'd sign it for you.”

Silly me, I didn't even think of doing so.

By the end of the interview, she hinted that she'd like company for a meal. Again, I was so stupidly awestruck that I didn't say, “Sure, let's grab a bite.”

I've always regretted it.

If you get that opportunity, take it.

Here's to those bright lights that entertain us.

—Josie

 

Author Provocateur Interview: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

AP LizAndLisa2LBInsta
PODBEANhttp://bit.ly/2LilaBennettsPB
APPLE: bit.ly/2LilaBennettsAPApple
SOUNDCLOUDhttp://bit.ly/2LilaBennettsSC

On my latest Author Provocateur podcast, I talk plot and process with dynamic duo, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, on their latest psychological thriller, The Two Lila Bennetts.

For good reason, the novel has been lauded by Authorlink as an imaginative and unpredictable story of modern life, the choices we make and their consequences.” BookTrib calls it  a “‘whose-doing-it’ masterpiece.”

And Publisher’s Weekly declares: “its flawless pacing will keep readers on the edge of their seats.”

I had the opportunity of talking to this bestselling dynamic author duo about the book’s plot and their creative process for weaving two voices into stories that keep readers turning the pages to see what will happen next.

HERE'S HOW:

1: Listen to Josie Brown's AUTHOR PROVOCATEUR podcast with Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke on any of these podcast networks,  here:

PODBEAN:  http://bit.ly/2LilaBennettsPB

APPLE: bit.ly/2LilaBennettsAPApple

SOUNDCLOUD: http://bit.ly/2LilaBennettsSC

2: Now, CORRECTLY ANSWER this question:
Who came up with the book's concept?

3: All entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 29, 2019.

4: A drawing for ALL CORRECT answers will take place on Monday, September 30, 2019. Winner will be contacted by Friday, October 5, 2019, and posted publicly here, on my website. 

Déjà vu …

FavoriteVictorian

Déjà is when you feel as if you're reliving a moment in your life.

This is one of my favorite Victorian homes. Every time I walk by it, I'm dumbstruck. 

It takes my breath away.

I imagine it as the perfect home for the heroine of my latest three-novel series, Extracurricular. In my imagination, she lives there with her husband, Daniel, who is a corporate attorney; and her three children—seventeen year-old high school seniors, Chuck and his sister, Charly; and their twelve year-old son, Noah.

Nothing in life is perfect. Usually, our imperfections are something we'd rather not showcase to the world. In many cases we'd rather not address them at all.

Or, perhaps we prefer to hide them.

They are our dirty little secrets. 

Audrey's secret goes back twenty-two years. Unfortunately, for her it as just resurfaced in the form of one of the twins' teachers, Egan Gable.

Egan was also once Audrey's instructor. She's recently discovered that he's back at her high school alma mater: Ashbury Academy, the private prep school founded by her mother, Lavinia.

Lavinia also has a secret, which she divulges to Audrey at the end of Extracurricular – Book 1. Keeping this secret for her mother is tearing Audrey apart because she has sworn she will never tell Daniel, let alone anyone else.

Ironically, Egan is an open book. He thinks nothing of baring his indiscretions in his novels.

In the excerpt below, from Extracurricular – Book 2,  Audrey reacts to the twins inquisition about Egan's novel.

(Spoiler alert: if you haven't read Book 1, I'd suggest you wait until you do…)

I hope you enjoy it. If you do, give Extracurricular a try.

—Josie

EC Book1 Extracurricular / Book 1 (Signal Press
(Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue


It's your child's senior year. 

A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.


Extracurricular EC Book2 copy 2 Extracurricular/ Book 2

Release Date: Friday, September 20, 2019
Digital ISBN: 978-1-970093-06-3
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-04-9

amazon-2-icon

Extracurricular – Book 2
Excerpt

You’ll never guess who we saw last night!” Tallulah’s voice boomed through Audrey’s car’s speaker.

Oh, no, Audrey thought.

There is no way I’ll allow the kids to hear this conversation.

“Can’t talk now, Tallulah! We’re driving to school!” So that Tallulah would take the hint, Audrey tooted the car horn, causing an elderly man strolling in the crosswalk with his teacup poodle, to bolt upright. He grabbed the dog, wrapping the pooch in his arms protectively.

As the tiny poodle yelped hysterically, the man raised his hand in a one-finger salute.

The kids burst out laughing.

“Oh, my God! Is everyone okay there?” Tallulah asked.

“Ma just scared the bejeezus out of some poor old guy, is all,” Chuck proclaimed. He tapped his mother on the shoulder  “Want to pull over so I can drive?”

“Charly scoffed, “Like heck! I’m the safest driver in the family—”

“No way!” Noah piped up. “It’s Dad by a long shot!”

“Tallulah, I’ll call you back.” The only thing good about the conversation was that it gave Audrey an excuse to hurry off the phone.

“Don’t bother, love! Just meet Bliss and me for lunch—Rose’s Cafe, one-ish! We’ve got to tell you how—”

Immediately, Audrey tapped her phone off the speaker.

“Mom…MOM! You’re passing the carpool line!” Through the rearview mirror, Audrey saw her youngest son smack his head with the palm of his hand. She skidded to a halt.

The car immediately behind her honked its horn.  She sped up again and swerved to the curve, just beyond the drop-off point. The teacher tasked as the carpool monitor gave her a scowl.

Audrey’s mea culpa was a wave.

She caught her youngest son’s eye in the rearview mirror. “You’ve made your point, sir. Now, give me a kiss before your walk of shame.”

Noah’s smack on the cheek was too quick for her to corral him for a kiss of her own.

Never mind, she thought. I’ve embarrassed him enough.

Anxious to find out what the twins thought of their seventh-period teacher, Audrey wracked her brain for some way to raise the subject. She need not have worried. Five minutes into the fifteen-minute ride from Noah’s school to theirs, Charly paused the twins’ usual verbal jousting to declare, “Hey, guess what, Mom? I’m going to try out for Debate Team. Our seventh-period teacher is the coach.”

Chuck scowled. “And that’s why I’m not.”

Audrey gripped the steering wheel so hard that her knuckles turned white.

“The teacher? Who is it again?” To her own ears, Audrey’s voice sounded like a squeak.

“His name is Egan. And he thinks he’s hot shit,” Chuck muttered.

“He’s not the only one. Everyone thinks he hot—especially Fawn,” Charly taunted. “In fact, she’s trying out for Debate Team too.”

Chuck’s jaw fell open. When he caught his mother’s eye in the mirror, he shut it and shrugged. “Then, maybe I will too,” he declared.

“Ha!” Charly crowed. “After how you sassed Egan on his very first day, what do you think your chances are of making it?”

“You…you got into an altercation with your teacher—on his very first day of school?”Audrey exclaimed.

This time, Chuck avoided the mirror and looked out his window instead. “I was asking Fawn something—”

“She squealed while Egan was making his point,” Charly corrected him.

Chuck retorted,  “Well, I proved to Mr. Big Shot Gable that you weren’t the only one in the class who could quote Shakespeare, Little Miss Show-Off.” To prove his point, Chuck nudged his mother. “You see, Mom? All those times you quoted the Bard to put me in my place finally paid off!”

This time, Audrey turned red. “Wow, I’m so proud,” she murmured sarcastically.

Chuck nodded vigorously. “Yeah, well you would have been if you’d seen his face.” Chuck slapped the back of Charly’s head. “Don’t worry, you’ll be the teacher’s pet in no time, just like you are in all your classes.”

The blush that crawled up Charly’s neck was not lost on Audrey. She felt as if the pit of her gut was on fire.

That’s why Charly wants to try out for Debate Team—to impress Egan. History is repeating itself.

I can’t let that happen.

Audrey glanced at Charly. “Honey, do you even have time for Debate Team? You have so many other extracurriculars! And almost all your courses this year are APs. Isn’t it more important to focus on your grades?” She took a deep breath, then added: “In fact, why don’t you drop Comp Lit and do something fun like… I don’t know, Glee maybe?”

Charly looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “Glee? Are you kidding me?”

“She’s got a point there, Ma.”  Chuck exclaimed. “Haven’t you heard her sing?”

Charly turned to pound Chuck’s arm. He inched away just in time to avoid it.

“I will not be dropping out of the AP class I’ve waited two years to take,” Charly growled. “And as far as Debate Team goes, I’m not trying out just because it’ll quote-unquote look great on my college apps. I’m doing it because it’ll be fun. So if you want me to have more fun this year, mission accomplished.”

Audrey’s heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. Still, she nodded silently.

Don’t push it. Don’t make her suspect anything.

“And besides,” Charly continued, “don’t you want me to follow in your footsteps and lead the debate team to victory?”

“I?…Oh…well…” Audrey stammered. “How did you know about that?”

Charly rolled her eyes. “I saw the trophy in AA’s display case. There was an LA Times article attached. It said you, specifically, led the team to victory.” Charly grinned. “Mom, I get it: you’ve set the bar pretty high. But I’m going to do my best to beat your record.”

“To be frank, it was a team effort,” Audrey insisted. “And it was a lot of hard work, believe me. Yes, it was exhilarating—but for all the wrong reasons.

“Mom, since you already know the ropes, you can help me make the team too,” Chuck declared.

Audrey panicked. “But…Why would you even go out for it? Between basketball and baseball, don’t you have enough on your plate?”

Charly snorted. “Because of Fawn. He’s afraid he’ll lose her to Egan. At least, that’s how Fawn’s playing it.”

“She isn’t ‘playing’ anything,” Chuck shot back. He caught Audrey’s eye in the mirror. “I need an academic extracurricular. Something like that will look great on my college apps. Isn’t that what you keep telling me? So, you’ll help me—right?”

Chuck’s gaze said it all: You love me. Of course, you will.

How could she say no?

As far as Audrey was concerned, they couldn’t reach Ashbury Academy’s student drop-off queue soon enough. While their car idled in line, Charly’s peck on the cheek goodbye came with a question: “Since you were on Debate Team, you had Egan too, right?”

“‘Had’… him?” Audrey stammered.

Shit….SHIT.

“For Comp Lit. Isn’t that why you’re such a Shakespeare nerd?”

“Oh! Yes, of course! I mean, that one year Egan was here, I was in his class.”

“Then you must have been excited when his novel came out. It’s called Extracurricular.

“Everyone was.” Even to her own ears, Audrey sounded defensive. She turned her head to hide her frown.

“Do we have a copy in the house?”

“No…” Technically, she was right. Her copy was buried in the back of the closet of her old bedroom in Lavinia’s house.

“Oh,” Charly shrugged. “That’s okay. Zina thinks her mom may have a copy because he taught her too. If not, I’m sure there’s a copy in the school library.”

“Why do you want it? So that you can impress Egan by giving it a glowing review in class?” Ignoring his sister’s glare, Chuck grabbed his book bag. “Or do you just want to read the sex scenes?”

Charly’s eyes went wide. Turning to her mother, she asked, “Are there sex scenes Extracurricular?”

Audrey answer was a flushed face.

Chuck hooted with laughter. “Wow, Mom! Really? His porn is that hot?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Audrey huffed. “Frankly, I never opened it.”

I didn’t have to. Egan read it to me—along with an auditorium filled with others just as moved by his erotic fantasy of…

Me.

“I’m sure they’ll have a copy in the school library,” Charly reasoned.

Oh my God—she’s right!

Hearing the honks behind her, Audrey lurched the car forward before squealing to a halt in front of the school’s entrance. “Out, kiddos. Make your mama proud today!”

The twins took the hint and scrambled out of the car.

After pulling away from the curb, Audrey took the first parking space she could find. She waited for AA’s clock tower to chime the final bell announcing the start of the school day and then rushed through the campus to the library…

(c) 2019 Josie Brown. All rights reserved

Extracurricular: new, fresh, interesting and original.

ExtraReadingMomMeTw

With so many #books and so little time, it’s always an honor when a #bookblogger discovers you and appreciates your writing voice. Thanks @reading_mom.me for this kind shoutout for Extracurricular!

—Josie

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple's marriage.

Extracurricular: “She managed to kill it.”

ExtraSandyTwBest

When one writes a new series, one tends to be anxious while waiting for long-time readers to weigh in. Needless to say, this review made my heart soar.

Well, Sandy, let me tell you: I always write my books with you—the reader—in mind. If you enjoyed it, if it was the cherry on the cake of your day, then I couldn't be happier.

Thanks for taking the time to find me, and to trust that I'll take you on a journey you'll enjoy.

—Josie

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple's marriage.

Thanks, Julie Valerie, for loving Extracurricular.

ExtraJulieInsta

It’s always great to get a review for a new release from an author you greatly respect. Thank you, Julie Valerie from the bottom of my 💖,

—Josie

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.