Chalk it up to love…


I love happy street art.

My break from writing is walking. In a city like San Francisco, invariably I look up because there is so much Victorian mansion eye candy to take in.

But sometimes, my gaze catches some wonderful sidewalk doodle.

It's September—a good five months from Valentine's Day—and yet, I found this beautiful heart on the street. The author in me knew there was a story here. I wanted to know: who is Shirley? Who loves her so much that they would declare it so proudly, so lovingly, on this street? (Perhaps, where she lives… Cue My Fair Lady…)

Is Shirley tickled that her beloved has professed these feelings for the whole world to see?

Is she, too, in love with her professed beloved?

I hope so. Such random acts of shared joy are what keeps a relationship alive.

We all need to know someone is thinking of us. That someone adores us.

Go ahead. Grab a piece of chalk and declare your love. It will be appreciated.



There’s going to be an evolution…


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.


Couples Kissing Monday: Coffee Break

Couples KissingCoffee 

He asked for a little sugar with his coffee.





The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
(Book 1) /
Signal Press 


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Read an excerpt…


Bitch Creek? Love the name.



It actually exists somewhere. Go figure.

Glad it caught this brewer's imagination.

Makes you wonder about the woman whom the creek was named after. 

And who named it for her.

Yep, there's a story there, somewhere.

In any regard, I hope they're talking about me, when they tout 

"Extra Special Brown".


What Not to get Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds as a Wedding Gift

I love celebrity marriages! They give us something to aspire to: dreamboat spouses, fancy affairs of the heart, and  a chance to beat Vegas odds as to whether yet another Hollywood marriage will go to the wayside, and if so, how long it will take to implode.

From what I read in People Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds seem fairly grounded, having had their fair share at hard knocks, both personally and professionally. (And you know how I believe everything I read!)

That said, I'd like to propose a toast to their living happily ever after. And for you who feel compelled to help these lovebirds get off to a great start on feathering their joint nest, I'd like to suggest you skip any of thes following as wedding gifts:


 1. A green lantern.
Yes, they met on the set of the movie. However, I presume that other than that, neither views this joint project the pinnacle of their careers, therefore a household or garden accessory that subliminally suggests otherwise may not get you invited to the frequent dinner parties they are sure to hold in their new abode in Bedford, New York.



220px-Titanic_poster 2. A DVD of Titanic.
No doubt, anything that reminds Blake of the Leonardo DiCaprio she loved as a teen won't be welcomed in their home. You'll never want it said that you broke them up, now would you?






Pearl-earring-Johannson3. For that matter, forego DVDs of Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Match Point as well.

I have a feeling the way the camera caresses Ryan's ex-wife Scarlett Johansson would not appeal to Blake.

Makes me wonder: are you better off with a great marriage and less of a screen career, or a great screen career and fleeting relationships? Or does a Hollywood career mean you'll forego your own "happily ever after"?

I wish the happy couple both. But if I were to say which was more satisfying I'd say the former.

Here's hoping they can have their wedding cake, and eat it, too.


— Josie

Guide-to-Gracious-Killing (2) AHBThe Housewife Assassin's
Guide to Gracious Kil

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Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

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For the Love of Sisters

Darien at 18My sister, Darien, was on the homecoming court, and president of our high school's chapter of the National Honor Society. Geeks, freaks, and football quarterbacks all fell in love with her because she made every guy feel as if he had her full attention and undying admiration. She also had a cadre of BFFs, some whom, to this day, still are close with her.

I was the rebellious little sister, the one who felt as if she were an outcast. And yet, I was never jealous, just proud to call her my big sis. Maybe because, despite all she had going for her, she made me feel as if I were the most special person in her life.

Although we now live some 2,855 miles apart, we try to talk frequently, and to see each other at least once a year. Our chats are what you'd expect. We discuss the latest glories of our children, our current worries, a triumph or two, and every now and then a shared memory.

Would I say that we're close? I'd say close enough to love and appreciate each other, and know our boundaries. She lives the life she wants, and I do, too. We respect that about each other, and don't try to meddle in each other's lives.

So, yeah, this article from the always insightfull Deborah Tannen, which ran recently in the New York Times, resonated with me.

Read it and enjoy. Then scroll below to watch Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen sing the song, "Sisters," from the movie "White Chritsmas".

Then call your sister,


(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading." –Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives

October 25, 2010

Why Sisterly Chats Make People Happier


“Having a Sister Makes You Happier”: that was the headline on a recent article about a study finding that adolescents who have a sister are less likely to report such feelings as “I am unhappy, sad or depressed” and “I feel like no one loves me.”

These findings are no fluke; other studies have come to similar conclusions. But why would having a sister make you happier?

The usual answer — that girls and women are more likely than boys and men to talk about emotions — is somehow unsatisfying, especially to a researcher like me. Much of my work over the years has developed the premise that women’s styles of friendship and conversation aren’t inherently better than men’s, simply different.

A man once told me that he had spent a day with a friend who was going through a divorce. When he returned home, his wife asked how his friend was coping. He replied: “I don’t know. We didn’t talk about it.”

His wife chastised him. Obviously, she said, the friend needed to talk about what he was going through.

This made the man feel bad. So he was relieved to read in my book “You Just Don’t Understand” (Ballantine, 1990) that doing things together can be a comfort in itself, another way to show caring. Asking about the divorce might have made his friend feel worse by reminding him of it, and expressing concern could have come across as condescending.

The man who told me this was himself comforted to be reassured that his instincts hadn’t been wrong and he hadn’t let his friend down.

But if talking about problems isn’t necessary for comfort, then having sisters shouldn’t make men happier than having brothers. Yet the recent study — by Laura Padilla-Walker and her colleagues at Brigham Young University — is supported by others.

Last year, for example, the British psychologists Liz Wright and Tony Cassidy found that young people who had grown up with at least one sister tended to be happier and more optimistic, especially if their parents had divorced. Another British researcher, Judy Dunn, found a similar pattern among older adults.

So what is going on?

My own recent research about sisters suggests a more subtle dynamic. I interviewed more than 100 women about their sisters, but if they also had brothers, I asked them to compare. Most said they talked to their sisters more often, at greater length and, yes, about more personal topics. This often meant that they felt closer to their sisters, but not always.

One woman, for example, says she talks for hours by phone to her two brothers as well as her two sisters. But the topics differ. She talks to her sisters about their personal lives; with her brothers she discusses history, geography and books. And, she added, one brother calls her at 5 a.m. as a prank.

A prank? Is this communication? Well, yes — it reminds her that he’s thinking of her. And talking for hours creates and reinforces connections with both brothers and sisters, regardless of what they talk about.

A student in my class recounted a situation that shows how this can work. When their family dog died, the siblings (a brother and three sisters) all called one another. The sisters told one another how much they missed the dog and how terrible they felt. The brother expressed concern for everyone in the family but said nothing about what he himself was feeling.

My student didn’t doubt that her brother felt the same as his sisters; he just didn’t say it directly. And I’ll bet that having the phone conversations served exactly the same purpose for him as the sisters’ calls did for them: providing comfort in the face of their shared loss.

So the key to why having sisters makes people happier — men as well as women — may lie not in the kind of talk they exchange but in the fact of talk. If men, like women, talk more often to their sisters than to their brothers, that could explain why sisters make them happier. The interviews I conducted with women reinforced this insight. Many told me that they don’t talk to their sisters about personal problems, either.

An example is Colleen, a widow in her 80s who told me that she’d been very close to her unmarried sister throughout their lives, though they never discussed their personal problems. An image of these sisters has remained indelible in my mind.

Late in life, the sister came to live with Colleen and her husband. Colleen recalled that each morning after her husband got up to make coffee, her sister would stop by Colleen’s bedroom to say good morning. Colleen would urge her sister to join her in bed. As they sat up in bed side by side, holding hands, Colleen and her sister would “just talk.”

That’s another kind of conversation that many women engage in which baffles many men: talk about details of their daily lives, like the sweater they found on sale — details, you might say, as insignificant as those about last night’s ballgame which can baffle women when they overhear men talking. These seemingly pointless conversations are as comforting to some women as “troubles talk” conversations are to others.

So maybe it’s true that talk is the reason having a sister makes you happier, but it needn’t be talk about emotions. When women told me they talk to their sisters more often, at greater length and about more personal topics, I suspect it’s that first element — more often — that is crucial rather than the last.

This makes sense to me as a linguist who truly believes that women’s ways of talking are not inherently better than men’s. It also feels right to me as a woman with two sisters — one who likes to have long conversations about feelings and one who doesn’t, but who both make me happier.

Deborah Tannen is a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and the author, most recently, of “You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives.”


A Coupla Sweet Thangs…

(Posted 10:49 PM PST, July 27, 2006)


If you haven't already noticed, I'm a big movie buff. All kinds of movies,
too. I'm no snob (yep, I joined millions of others in loving the latest
Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest), but I do love the indies.
My fave this year is The Oh in Ohio, starring Parker Posey, Danny
DeVito, Paul Rudd, and Mischa Barton, with fab cameos by Liza Minelli
and Heather Graham. All are well cast, and at the top of their game. As
always, Parker glows, and gets the essence of her character, a frigid
pro-biz city cheerleader for the city of Cleveland (which looks
beautiful in the movie), who learns to unwind–maybe not in time to
save her marriage, but at least she saves herself. I've never seen
DeVito so tender and poignant (as well as funny), and Rudd's honesty
while in couples counseling is some of the funniest dialogue I've ever
heard….maybe because it's so real, if the laughs from the men around
me were any indication. Don't wait for the DVD, GO SEE IT NOW….

Amazon has optioned a book that it wants to see made into a movie:
Keith Donohue's bestselling novel "The Stolen Child." As it's exec
producer, it will play matchmaker between the property and a Hollywood
production company.  Wow, way to go Amazon. As both an author and a
former marketing/advertising pro, I congratulate you for thinking out
of the box by creating synergy (Oops!  Slipped into adspeak! Sorry. Old
habits are hard to break) between publishing's distribution channel,
and the film industry. The Internet is still an untapped tool. Since
its creation, however, Amazon is still one of its greatest innovators.
These author blogs are proof of that.

Oh, and, uh, btw
Amazon bigwigs: TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES is ready for its close-up, too.
Option, anyone? (Logline: A female personal assistant's POV on an
Entourage-like lifestyle. PS: Will settle for TV)…

RWA is happening in Atlanta this week. The official start was
Wednesday, but from what I hear, the hottest party has already taken
place. Atlanta-based author Stephanie Bond threw a posh li'l soiree in her midtown Atlanta loft. That crush included bestselling novelists Julie Kenner and Allison Brennan, as well as two authors who I just can't get enough of: Karin Tabke and Wendy Wax, to name just a few. What a great way for Stephanie to celebrate the August 1st release of her new book, BODY MOVERS.
BTW, both Julie and Wendy have new releases, and Karin's is coming out
the first week in September, so follow the links here, and take a look
at what you have in store for you. You'll understand why I'm so

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