A view from a Bond.

SeanConnery

Dear Readers,

My dad loved 007 movies. So do I.

It was something we (no pun intended) bonded over. 

It wasn't the plots so much as the movies' tongue-in-cheek cool-dude vibe: the gorgeous women, silly double entendres, the fun spy gear supplied by MI6's tech genius, Q; those psychedelic opening credits—

Not to mention the wonderful songs that came with the opening credits.

And of course, there were all the great opening capers.

I borrowed that concept for the Housewife Assassin series. Its first chapter always begins with Donna in a compromising situation. I want readers to gnash their teeth in fear of what could happen to her, just like we do for James Bond.

Sean Connery passed away this week. He will be sorely missed. Besides bringing the consummate spy to life, he embodied a character grounded in emotional depth, grace, and humor. He is the reason James Bond is still loved by millions.

The real spy business is not so glamorous and much more deadly. Still, it's always fun to imagine what we'd do if we were faced with such danger; if the fate of the free world depended solely on our actions.

Frankly, it does. It's why we vote, isn't it?

Thanks for doing your bit.

—Josie

What is your favorite James Bond movie?
Your answer enters you to win a free copy of a Josie Brown eBook of your choosing!
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What goes best with pie? People, of course!

Chocolate Walnut Pie

It is a tradition for Martin and me to host a decent-sized gathering for Thanksgiving. Sadly, this year we won't be seeing sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, or dear friends who may have shared a few memories, some laughs, and a great meal.

(NOT cooked by me; I've been known to forget putting sugar in my chocolate walnut pies. D'oh!)

The decision wasn't easy. Still, better to play it safe now so that we can share the future making new memories.

Like many others, we will call, FaceTime, or Zoom call with those who will be missed this year. No, it won't be the same as actually sharing smiles face-to-face.

I've no doubt that, eventually, life will go back to normal. When it does. I can't wait to kiss and to hug all those who have filled my life with joy and sweetness.

Until then, I'll have plenty of time to practice my pies—with sugar. If you want my recipe, click here…

—Josie

JOSIE BROWN'S PIE RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick of butter or margarine
  • 1 BAR of at least 70% dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Amaretto (Bailey's or Carolans works, too)
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust (my favorite is Pillsbury's roll-out crust, found in the refrigerated foods area)
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prick bottom and sides of pie crust with fork. Press heavy-duty aluminum foil onto bottom and around side of pie crust; fill with uncooked rice or beans. Bake 10 minutes; remove foil and rice. Bake additional 7 minutes or until pale golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Stir together chocolate, walnuts and flour in medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Beat butter and sugar in large mixer bowl until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in corn syrup, vanilla and salt, beating just until blended. (Mixture may look curdled.) Stir in walnut mixture.
  5. Pour mixture into baked pie crust.
  6. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until outer edges of pie are set and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with just melted chocolate. Center will still be jiggly. Cool completely on wire rack. Cover; store up to 2 days at room temperature or if storing longer, refrigerate. 8 servings.

Libraries matter. Here’s how one changed my life.

LibrariesJosieBrown

Imagine my surprise when, one morning, I found myself tagged on one of the social media feeds by a library—The South Texas College Library—regarding a quote I'd once, made about libraries.

And, yes, I meant every word of it.

I grew up in libraries. I lived a block and a half from my elementary school, which kept its library open throughout the summer. That way, children could proudly complete the reading lists handed to them on the last day of school.

During one summer, I checked out every compendium it had of Broadway musicals by year, I read the scripts as if they were books. These massive volumes also had each musical's song lyrics, which I memorized. It didn't matter that I hadn't listened to their soundtracks. I could hear them in my mind.

Fast-forward fifteen years later, when I met the man who would later become my husband. He'd grown up in New York. Even as a pre-teen, he'd been taking the subway to Broadway, to catch shows: mostly musicals.

On many an occasion, he'd serenade me with show tunes. Imagine his surprise when this Georgia Peach, who (at least, back then), had never seen a Broadway show could sing along.

Libraries are my happy place. Now more than ever during this COVID crisis, I miss not being able to go into one. Thank goodness for curbside checkout, caring librarians, and digital book loans.

Libraries open our worlds beyond our physical reach. They open our minds to new ideas. They open our eyes to endless possibilities.

Libraries are where I learned to read.

Reading taught me to love fiction.

Loving fiction helped me learn to write.

Knowing that my books have given you a few hours of joy is my way of sharing my libraries with you.

—Josie

 

Got a favorite library? I invite you to post it with a comment. 

Here is one of my favorites: the Mill Valley Library (California), nestled in a grove of redwood trees, with a big homey fireplace, large windows, an outdoor deck, and a wonderful town history room.)

Mill Valley Public Library.jpg

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

APLastAgentTw copy

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

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.

Scarlett Johansson copy
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.

Samuel L Jackson copy
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!

HHunkAmzFreeTWBest copy

 

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

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

Dugoni AP Square

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)

Grisham

 

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

via GIFER

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

via GIFER

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

 

via GIFER

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

 

via GIFER

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


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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)

via GIFER


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

Portrait of young businesswoman sleeping on computer at office

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

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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


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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)

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

 

Extracurricular: new, fresh, interesting and original.

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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

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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

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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

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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 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.