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

 

via GIFER

 

 

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


via GIFER

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

 
via GIFER


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

fitzgerald-zelda1

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

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

via GIFER


Tip #12: Choose the Right Time to Write

ChutesAndLadders

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

author-group

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

Portrait of young businesswoman sleeping on computer at office

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

15963

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

Microphone ready to present at a book store

Tip #6: When Your Backstory Should Be Your Story


via GIFER

Tip #5: Show, Don't Tell

 

via GIFER

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


Tip #3: Don't Give Up!

Alien

Tip #2: Outline the Plot of Your Story
Journey-dreamstime_m_58653986


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)

HA13GPLotOfLove

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.

FrankensteinChronicles

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.

 

JudlyMovie1200

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.

Author Provocateur: Brad Thor Interview

BradThorBacklash

I had the great honor of interviewing thriller master Brad Thor about his latest novel, BACKLASH, his nineteenth novel whose protagonist, former Navy SEAL Scot Harvath, is the iconic Covert Ops bad-ass fixer.

This particular book is a perfect storm of loss, grief, spy games, and epic journey home.

Not to mention a pack of hungry wolves. (I kid you not!)

Feel free to click this link to read it in International Thriller Writers Organization's The Big Thrill

—Josie

—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 about their marriage.

Extracurricular: You can buy it today.

ExtraLaunch2Tw

I used to hate pink book covers.

I felt they sent the wrong message: “This is a book for women only.”

Okay, yeah. Extracurricular is for women. 

Mothers who have sweated—or are sweating—their kids' path to college, or what they hope is a better life for their children.

And for girls—that is, young adult women—who have dreamed, or now dream about, college. Or those young women who are in college, and worked hard to get there—

But know others who may have gamed the system.

This book is for men too. Because men are also worried about how their children will be educated. They stay up late at nights worried that they won't be able to afford the college tuition for their children.

(And they will read it despite the pink hue of its cover.)

They too dream that their children will have a fair chance to earn a slot at the school of their choice.

But then there are parents who will commit fraud—take a “side door,” as it's called—but justify it because it's for their children.

In the three episodic novels that make up Extracurricular, you'll meet all sorts of parents and their kids. One—the protagonist, Audrey Thorpe—will have a shameful secret. Another, Egan Gable, will be the catalyst for the decisions she makes for herself and her loved ones. 

And all the characters you meet will have personal agendas—driven by pride, arrogance, or greed.

A few you'll cheer for, despite the battles they face. Others, you will hate because how they view their lives, and others whose lives they affect on a daily basis.

Nothing is black and white. Just like real life, there are a lot of variables that affect my characters' decisions, both right and wrong.

In other words, what you've come to expect from a Josie Brown book.

So, yes, a pink cover is right for the very first novel in the series, when, after meeting the FBI team that is leading the investigation, we leap back twenty-two years in the past, when the real story begins: a time of  youthful, exuberant innocence.

Where it ends up? Well, that’s the problem. You see, every deed, good or bad, has a catalyst that began in some ripple of time.

The second novel in the series sports a blue cover. It brings us back to the future, with darker times and more at stake. The last cover is a pale yellow, representing knowledge, or wisdom; the light after the storm.

Be duly warned: there will be many trials and tribulations before our characters get there.

If you've been reading my other blog posts about Extracurricular, you already know that this story has been percolating with me for quite some time now: eight years, in fact.

If you're wondering why, it too me so long to write, it's simply that I got sidelined with other fun characters and their stories. My housewife assassin, Donna Stone, for one, who gets even more complex with every book in her satiric series. And of course, my four lovely Totlandia ladies, (and one who was more difficult to love (ahem: BETTINA). And Ben Brinker and Maggie Vandergalen in The Candidate. 

Before Audrey and Egan, there were Hannah Fairchild and Louis Trollope in Hollywood Hunk; Nina Hart and Sam Godwin in Hollywood Whore; and Lyssa and Harry of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives; and Katie Johnson and her husband, Alex, in The Baby Planner.

To an author, each story is a puzzle. Each character—every plot point—is just one piece that must fit perfectly with the others to make the story whole.

And now, finally, it's Audrey and Egan's turn. Their story is part comedy, some tragedy, and hopefully a journey that you'll enjoy all along the way. Since I initially concepted it, the world has gotten even more complex. Ironically, the issues they face in the novels—first as young adults, then with children of their own—reflect what we see happening now, as it pertains with college admissions and the lengths those with more money than brains will go to make sure their children get into “the right schools.”

And yes, the foibles of the parents caught up in the current scandals will be reflected in Extracurricular.

Sometimes, you can't make this stuff up. At least, together, we can laugh at it.

Thanks for taking a chance on my story.

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / 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: Hence, the name of the series

Debate Terminology.png

I know what you're thinking: that I chose Extracurricular as the name of my novel series because it sets up a delicious double entendre, what with it taking place at a private high school and that lust and is front and center with its protagonists, Audrey and Egan.

Well, you're wrong.

Colleges are very interested in the activities that students engage in during high school. These “extracurriculars” show gauge those students who are fully rounded socially; if they can multi-task, and take on responsibilities.

In other words, are they good citizens?

In the novels, Ashbury Academy's debate team is a sought-after extracurricular activity. However, one must earn one's place on it.

And there in lies the rub. If a student is willing to lie, steal, and cheat to make the team, is s/he a good citizen? Is this a pattern of behavior that will continue throughout his or her life?

As the latest college admissions scandals prove, there are ways to fake one's participation in extracurriculars. Some of the fraud revolves around lies involving participation in sports, clubs, and volunteer organizations.

Some college admission slots are precious and few. My research on how parents (and sometimes, with the students' knowledge) will do and say anything to get their children into one of them.

Believe me, this is a time in which life is stranger than fiction.

Enjoy this excerpt. And be sure to enter my contest for books, gift cards, and other goodies.

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / 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: An earth-shattering incident

ExtraEarthquakeBest650.png

If you thought it was your last moment on earth, would you tell the one person you'd never admit to loving how you felt?

I put my protagonists in an old elevator during an earthquake. They are quite literally tossed into each other's arms. Their initial instincts to protect each other. The next desire is to comfort the one for which love has never been professed.

Fear finally subsides, as does the desire for the declaration of love.

But there are some primal urges that makes words unnecessary. It's what this scene is about.

When I wrote this scene eight years ago, I thought it would take place at the end of the book. Years later, I realized that it was only the beginning of their story.

All the missed opportunities lead to other secrets, leavened with lies that lead to many live-changing mistakes for them and those they love most.

I hope you'll want to go along for the ride.

—Josie

Read the first-chapter excerpt here, then enter my contest for books, a gift card, and a great treasure for your kitchen: a wonderful stoneware pie plate.

Enjoy!

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / 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: School Daze

ExtraHandbookInsta.png

A school is only as good as its reputation. 

The variables that take that broad assumption and flip it on its head are the very people who burnish the school's prominence: its teachers, students, administrators, and the families who support it. 

While writing Extracurricular, I took all of this into account. Within the three books in the series, you'll see egos drive actions that produce pain. Sometimes, the motive is pride. Sometimes, it's fear. Sometimes it's cold hard cash that makes a character do something that s/he knows is ethically, morally, and legally wrong.

In this case, a ripple effect of one person's actions can ruin a private school's reputation, perhaps even take it under. This is very true of  youthful indiscretions of my protagonists, Audrey and Egan. Driven by a mutual attraction, their singular misunderstandings will eventually threaten something both love: Ashbury Academy, the school where they first met.

To some extent, anyone and everyone who cares about how the best and the brightest get into their universities of choice should be concerned about the college admissions scandal. What are your thoughts?

As far as Extracurricular goes, I hope you read the excerpt here, then enter my contest for books, a gift card, and a great treasure for your kitchen: a wonderful stoneware pie plate.

Enjoy!

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / 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: Snowplowing and Cheating

ExtraWitchesCap2

Is there such a thing as too much love?

Recently, several parents were indicted in a college admissions scandal. They paid, in some cases, over a million dollars to have others fake their children's SAT and ACT tests, or to make them look even more desirable as athletes or humanistic volunteers: both desirable to schools that take pride in graduating the best and the brightest.

To most parents, their child is just that: incomparable. But the need to convince others—be it a college admissions counselor, alumni, or their friends and neighbors—is at the basis of why one would go through with such “side door” antics.

Not that the “back door”—that is, giving some major donation to the school—is any better. But, ironically, it happens to be legal, and therein lies the difference.

In my new novel series, Extracurricular, a few parents whose children are in a prestigious  a San Francisco private high school  and staff members decide to cut a few corners. How if affects the school's reputation, its  other parent supporters ,its student body—and just as importantly, their children—is what this three-books series is about.

The book's protagonist is an innocent victim, but also a perpetrator. A two-decades-old folly is the catalyst for its effect on her family, and the alma mater which is near and dear to her heart.

Reading this excerpt will give you a taste of it, as will the excerpt to be read in conjunction with my contest for a lot of fun goodies: books, a gift card, and a beautiful pie plate.

Enjoy!

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / 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 Excerpt: The Sting

ExtraOnTapeBestTw2

I started writing Extracurricular eight years ago. As luck would have it, the recent college admissions cheating scandal made it a timely book to be launch this summer.

The scandal also gave me the impetus to expand the story into a three-book series. Whereas it was always going to be about about the consequence of a young lust that morphed into a three-year obsession and a twenty-two year-old secret, what sets its revelation in motion is a private school's involvement with the same illegal activities we're reading about now. 

As in real life, in this novel series, a few over-anxious parents will ruin not only their own lives, but that of the ones the loves they love most: their almost-adult children whose lives they feel they most micromanage as opposed to letting their children grow and mature through their own life experiences.

In the meantime, the reputations of school are also tarnished.

The excerpt above takes place during the middle of an FBI sting operation. In order to lessen her own jail sentence, a cooperating witness, nicknamed “Maleficent” by the agents because of imperious attitude, is recording two clients who interested in her “special attention” college counseling services.

Does it make it more palatable to readers that they are just as despicable as her? Throughout the book, that won't always be the case.

In Extracurricular, ego, desperation, insecurity, shame, lies, and lust play equal parts in 

Read the excerpt here, and then enter my contest, which has LOTS of goodies to win…

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 about their marriage.

Extracurricular Excerpt: What started it all.

ExtraCheerleaderTw1

So, what does it take to make you walk away from a relationship? Would the same event, perhaps, make you open your heart to someone else?

If you're seventeen, perhaps. 

If you're thirty-seven, maybe not. Unless weighted down with maturity,  nothing could stop a few flurries of desire from rolling down a sheer-faced mountain of impulse and becoming an avalanche of regret.  

If, twenty-two years ago, Extracurricular's protagonist, Audrey Thorpe, finds her boyfriend in flagrante delecto between SAT tests  That leaves her disgusted. It also leaves her vulnerable to any good looking, twenty-something who is distinguished enough to teach at her other's private high school—

Especially when he signals he's also attracted to her by flirting with her.

ExtraParisIntaBestBest

Until he finds out she's not even eighteen.

And, worse, yet, her mother will soon be his boss.

 Read the excerpt here, and then enter my contest, which has LOTS of goodies to win…

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 about their marriage.

The Odd Couple

ExtraPartners2Insta

One of the joys of writing a book is not only creating a backstory for your protagonists but also fully outlining your secondary characters. When I starting writing ExtracurricularI realized immediately that I could have fun with the FBI agents who are leading the investigation for the college admissions scandal: Lionel Polk and SallyAnne Jagger.

We meet them at the very beginning of the novel. Their interactions there show how such a seemingly Mutt-and-Jeff team can work in tandem by playing to each other's strengths. At the same time, this dynamic duo isn't immune to each other's weaknesses.

And, as you'll read in this excerpt, an chance exchange with one of the book's protagonists is the catalyst for acting on their mutual attraction.

But, before that can happen, they have to agree on one thing: that their key witness, a.k.a., Cooperating Witness 1, is a despicable character.

SallyAnne has already given her a nickname: Maleficent. Read the excerpt here and find out why…

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 about their marriage.

A twist of fate.

Extra1VirginInstBESTEVAH

Throughout the process of plotting Extracurricular, I wanted each scene to be a bittersweet twist of fate.

If it were put on a timeline, the first twist occurs in Chapter Two, during an SAT test. Appropriate, wouldn't you say, since the plot involves a college admissions cheating scandal?

If you're wondering if there is also a plot twist in Chapter One, rest assured there are several. One involves a set of parents who have the opportunity to walk away from being indicted in the scandal. Do they take it?

Another, involving the teacher and novelist whose life is chronicled in Extracurricular, shows how anger, fear, and too much of a good thing (in this case, liquor) can influence a decision with  severe consequences.

A third fateful twist engages the two FBI operatives in charge of the investigation. When one of the partners sees the other through the eyes of a new Person of Interest, it shades their relationship.

Read the excerpt here. Then be sure to enter the contest for some fun goodies.

EC Book1Extracurricular / 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

Extracurricular: Why it’s timely.

Extra1NewLustOldLoveBest copy.png

My next 3-book women's fiction series, Extracurricular, is being launched just as one of its plot points has caught national headlines: the college admissions scandal.

In my plot, we see it happen in real time when a private high school is caught up in the same exact scheme.

But, like everything in life that never makes it into an attention-grabbing headline, there is a real backstory to the who, what, where, how, and why parents, students, school administrators, and admissions consultants may have gotten caught up in these illegal shenanigans. In Extracurricular, the story begins twenty-two years ago, and envelops two generations of a family in the trauma.

As with most of my books, Extracurricular is sprinkled liberally with satire. Not to worry, there is enough trauma and drama to go around. But, as in all sensational stories, there is a farcical element to the way we live now. I hope I captured it aptly in this three-book episodic series. The first book launches Friday, June 28, 2019. To read an excerpt, click here. You'll also be able to partake in my fun contest celebrating its release.

Enjoy,

—JosieExtra1 Ad TWExtra1NewLustOldLoveBest copy

Extra1NewLustOldLoveBest copy.png