(Yes, I envision baby dementors as well..) #Halloween #Happiness — Josie
I hope you think so, too. So that you can get a taste of it, feel free to download an excerpt here.
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(For a signed digital copy via Amazon, order here)
Seduction and intrigue are rampant on the campaign trail when a political campaign adviser discovers that Washington's power broker elite have embroiled his presidential candidate in a plot involving an act of terrorism on US soil…
Democratic political campaign consultant Ben Brinker can’t remember the last time he was excited by a candidate’s vision. He feels he’s lost his way, both emotionally and professionally. Worst yet, his show-me-the-money policy seems to have finally caught up with him. Two of his recent clients have been disgraced in one way or another: a senator is caught in lurid sex scandal, and a congressman is indicted in a kickback scandal. In no time at all the political pundits are calling Ben a "candidate cooler." Now Ben is desperate for any campaign gig he can get.
As luck would have it, Andrew Harris Mansfield, the charismatic junior senator from North Carolina and former Marine pilot, asks Ben if he wants to run his soon-to-be-announced campaign for president.
Little does Ben know what's in store for Andrew, or their country–
Nor does he realize that the key to saving both have been placed in his hands.
(c) 2005 Alex Steuart Williams (FLIP) and Erica Rothschild
I'm being serious.
Okay, here goes:
1. "I'd write, too, but I can't stand the thought of all the trees I'd be killing."
Yes, I've heard this one. My response back then was, "Don't worry. You won't sell enough books to raze a sapling, because your pub house won't push you that hard to begin with."
Today, I'd add, "And besides, most books are digital, so you can't use the tree-killer bullshit as an excuse not to write anymore."
2. "I'd write, too, but I just can't make the time."
Good. Stay busy. The world doesn't need anothor author. Here's a hint: It's not a hobby. It's a profession.
3. "Why don't you kill off your series' villian?" Because then I wouldn't have a series. And if I don't have a series, I don't have the rent money. I'll make you a promise: when and if he quits paying the rent, I'll quit writing about him.
4. "Honestly, what do you really do to pay the bills?"
Then again, I'm not JK Rowling, either.
If a writer is persistent and lucky, he or she will find that their income is somewhere in between minimum wage and unimagined wealth.
I'm not saying it's an easy way to make a living. It took years to crawl my way up beyond the government set poverty line. To make the rent, I wrote other things: game questions, greeting cards. magazine articles, even horoscopes. (No, I was not a licensed astrologist, just a mom with two growing kids who could go through money like the Pentagon).
5. "The best authors–like JD Salinger, or, say Margaret Mitchell– only wrote one, or maybe a just few, books in their lifetime."
Oh, really? I guess that leaves out Dickens, Twain, Wharton, LeCarre, Dreisher, Trollope, James, Chandler, Christie, and Doyle, to name a few–all of whom are on my favorite authors list–along wtih Salinger and Mitchell.
And by the way, some of the worst writers only wrote one book as well.
I'd say the odds are with those who get the most chances at the plate. Don't forget, Babe Ruth broke records for hitting home runs and for striking out.
Not to mention, a writer's skill level rises each time up to bat.
6. "When am I going to see you on the New York Times Bestsellers list?"
Maybe never–and that's okay with me. A Times review won't necessarily pay the bills.
For that matter, a Times review won't necessarily be a good one. Just ask any author who has been scorched, panned, or ridiculed by one.
7. "When will I see your book reviewed in the New York Times?"
Again, maybe never–and that too is okay with me. I write commercial literature–romantic suspense, funny mysteries, contemporary women's fiction–and those books usually don't get a NYT review unless they're deemed such a cultural phenomenon that even the Times can't ignore them.
As for those authors who are waiting for some news outlet to review their books, all I can say is, good luck. Even the best New York publishing house publicist rarely scores a major newspaper review for a mid-list or debut author, let alone a segment on the Today Show. Now, if you're willing to change your first name to Snooki, or your last name to Kardashian, you may actually get that review, or some air time.
It's just the way of the world: a ghosted celebrity can garner more air time for a mediocre book than a gifted author will receive for a notable work.
So suck it up.
Better yet, don't reach for the stars when that is not the lasting definition of success. You're better off working the crowd instead of waiting for the crowd to come to you. In fact, I know many authors whose books have gotten better–and substantially more reviews–than those I see in the Times–
Rude awakening: many major newspapers have done away with book reviews–and book reviewers–altogether. That being said, the voices that are ever more important to authors are avid readers, especially those readers who are willing to write a review on the websites of the bookstores (both online, and brick-and-mortar) where they buy their books. Even better is when they chat up your books to friends.
In today's book market, a four-plus star reviews by hundreds of readers on an online bookseller's site can generate more sales than a few kind words in a Times review on any given Sunday.
Bottom line: word of mouth means everything.
8. "You can write more than one book a year? Hmmm. You're not an artist. You're not even a craftsman. You're…a hack!"
Here's the scoop. Even painters have to produce more than one painting in a lifetime–let alone a year–in order to eat, pay rent, and pay for their kids' braces.
The same goes for musicians. They have to play more than one gig. And songwriters have to write more than one song.
No one wants to be a one-hit wonder.
In fact, even one hit is akin to winning the lottery.
As for being a craftsperson: the proof is in the satisfaction of the buyer.
I'm very proud of my body of work. Every book has received an average of four or more stars. And every day, I get letters from readers who were kind enough to take the time to tell me how much fun they had with my books, or how much they love my characters. I love to hear that it kept them up at night (it certainly did for me when I was writing any one of them!) or that they laughed so loud that it woke their spouses.
That, my dear friends, is satisfaction.
9. "It must be nice to be able to set your own hours."
I write at least ten hours a day.
Believe it or not, some chapters are written in my sleep.
When I'm not writing, I'm plotting. Or researching.
The creative process is the most important aspect of my profession. But the marketing of my books are just as important. That being said, when I'm not writing, plotting or researching, I'm concepting covers, going over edits from my proofers and editors–
And promoting, promoting, promoting.
In any regard, I'm thinking about my books twenty-four/seven.
None of it is easy. But it can certainly be rewarding. I guess that's what makes it a "job," and not a hobby.
10. "It must be great to have such a fun job."
I wouldn't be doing anything else. And I'll do it, as long as I please my readers–and myself.
But like any job, it's not always fun. Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes I disappoint myself with how slow I am at it. It takes time to craft a sentence, let alone a paragraph, a scene or a chapter.
Then you have to do it time and again, until you have a cohesive story. Creating a work that even you enjoy, despite having read it so many times, you want to scream.
I remember the reaction my sister had when I told her I'd sold my very first novel. "In fact, the contract is for two books," I proclaimed proudly.
This was met with a look of horror. "You mean, they can make you write another?"
"God, I hope so," I declared.
Eight years and seventeen novels later, I still feel that way.
And, now a bonus comment…
11. "I've got a great idea for a book! Why don't I give it to you, and we can split what you make, 50/50?"
Ha ha! I get this one a lot! I've even gotten it from my sister.
Thank you, but I respectfully decline your offer. You see, I have so many ideas already, that I wonder if I'll have the lifespan in which to write them all.
And besides, at best, a concept is a one-liner (at the most ten words). Even if it's the best book concept in the world, but then you're leaving me with the heavy lifting–that is, coming up with the other eighty thousand words that makes it a book.
You see, a book may start out as a high concept, but it needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. That's a lot of sweat equity–especially if the concept doesn't resonate enough with you to (a) spend the time to research the era or topic, or (b) create characters who go through the motions to bring it to life–and make readers laugh, cry, or write you to tell you how much your words meant to them.
That being said, go ahead and write it, as only you could do.
And let me know when it's published. I look forward to reading it, and supporting you, just like you read and support me.
Or maybe "The Housewife Assassin's Handbook."
I'll go with the latter.
From "Pride and Prejudice, the Musical"
Music and Lyrics by Rita Abrams; Libretto by Josie Brown
#3: IT IS A TRUTH (Complete Song)
(Sung by Bingley, Darcy and Caroline)
Darcy and Bingley banter about the pressures on single men–particularly wealthy single men–to marry. But while Darcy is disgusted by it, Bingley's attitude is more benign–perhaps because he is already in the throes of enchantment with one of the local beauties, Jane Bennet.
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
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BN.com (99 cents)
The skating rink and lit tree, in Union Square, downton San Francisco, California.
The model for the statue was a young local beauty, Alma Spreckels, who ended up marrying the sugar king (yes, she actually called him her "sugar daddy"–or as she put it, "I'd rather be an old man's darling than a young man's slave."
She also founded the city's Legion of Honor Museum, because none of the swells would take her money for the renowned DeYoung Museum. Many of her treasures came from France, which she helped during World War I. She was one of the most ardent patrons of Auguste Rodin.
The mansion the Spreckels built, on Washington at Octavia, was purchased by novelist Danielle Steel, lucky lady.
Yes, you want to get it.
Or as Amazon readers put it:
"I got mad at myself because I had to put this book down to sleep at night. I wanted to finish it all – without taking a break!" — Chick Lit Plus
"The story and the characters pulled me in. Great summer escape reading." — Julia B.
" Great plot twists kept me reading to learn more. Kind of makes me wonder about the real sick world of politicians." – Rob B.
"It's a terrific read and does not disappoint! I couldn't put it down and finished in one day." – Nikki S.
" I was hooked. Hopefully there will be others in the series soon!" –Jana A.
" Always a page turner. Couldn't find one dull spot. Highly recommend. Even the title is intriguing." – Nocturnes
reward him with a shy smile. “It’s fun to lose control every now and then,
don’t you agree…Robert?”
As if. I’m beginning
to believe that “control” is this guy’s middle name. It’s anyone’s guess as to
his last name, or any other clue as to his identity.
the hour ride from San Francisco to Woodside I had very little success getting
him to talk about what he did for a living. And no matter how many ways I tried
to get him to reveal his last name or his job, he played it coy. “All that
corporate bullshit will bore you to tears, sweetheart. Let’s just keep things
By “friendly,” he means allowing his hands to
cup my breasts while he probes my molars with his tongue.
no doubt he presumes I’m the dessert after the gourmet meal of filet mignon,
broccoli stir-fry and mashed potatoes, which we ate in a private tent
overlooking Woodside California’s polo fields. But now our little picnic is
almost over. I’ve only got another half hour before Robert leaves me for a
white Arabian mare named Pure as Driven Snow.
To keep him here, I’ll have to be anything
now Arnie whines, “He’s much too close for our facial recognition software to
get a good fix on his features. Can’t you get him to back off?”
she can,” Jack, mutters, “By putting her heel in his groin.”
thinking on both our parts. Alas, that would defeat the purpose.
Since I got into the car, Emma and
Arnie have been working furiously to place him. But who knew San Francisco had
so many steely-eyed mid-fortysomething corporate bigwigs named “Robert,” who are six feet tall, just-gray-enough-around-the-edges, and own a polo
if reading my mind, Emma murmurs into my diamond-studded audio feed, “We’ve
narrowed down the list of potential suspects to five.”
a’wasting. I toss back the flute of bubbly. Then slowly I run my tongue over my
lips and murmur, “Aren’t you going to join me?”
sighs. “Believe me, I wish I could. But if I’m going to ride without falling
off my horse, I should hold off until after the match.”
give him a playful pout. “It’s no fun getting tipsy all by myself.” I brush
against him when I reach into the picnic hamper. Pulling up another champagne
flute, I whisper, “One tiny little sip won’t knock you off your horse, will
eyes both the glass and me longingly. Finally he nods. “I guess you’re
take the bottle from his hand. “Let me do the honors. As much as I love being
treated like a queen, today I’d prefer to play handmaiden. ”
raises a smile on his face, not to mention a tent in his polo breeches.
sure it also helps that, when I pour the champagne into his glass, I arch my
back in such a way that my vee-neck blouse drops between my breasts.
his eyes are otherwise occupied, I watch his face for Arnie’s sake, praying now
that I’m just close enough for him to get a lead on the guy. At the same time,
I slide the jade stone on my ring and tilt it so that a dose of SP-117 pours
into his glass.
gulps down the champagne. Good, because the sooner his opens up, the better. I
keep up the small talk, complimenting him on topics he’s already deemed safe:
the filet mignon; his Bentley; his polo skills; the size of his biceps beneath
his polo shirt; the size of the tent in his breeches—
finally, his eyes glaze over. That’s when I know it’s safe to ask, “So, tell me
Robert, what’s your last name?”
The word comes out in a drowsy whisper.
him,” Arnie and Emma yell into my ear at the same time. She adds, “That name
was on one of my possible five—” at the same time in which Arnie declares, “The
face recognition analysis came through, finally—”
close my eyes and shake my head. “One at a time, children, please!”
CEO of Catalyst Industries!” Emma’s answer comes out in a rush. “It’s a
conglomerate that owns—”
variety of biotech companies,” Arnie interjects, “including, Human-A-Sphere, a
chain of bio-genetic profiling labs; Inject-A-Life, a firm that invents
non-invasive surgical procedures; and PharmFarm, the largest agribusiness of
genetically enhanced crops.”
one of those could provide a terrorist organization with the means to cripple a
nation.” Jack’s voice is emotionless as he states this simple fact.
time for some answers from the man in question. “Robert Higginbotham, are you a
member of the Quorum?”
nods. Whereas that gives visual affirmation, I want to hear it from his lips.
“Answer the question out loud,” I prod him.
“Yes, I am one of the Quorum Thirteen…well,
now we are eleven…Um, ten.” By his frown, I can tell he’s surprised to hear
himself say this out loud, and to a perfect stranger.
what do your companies do for the Quorum?”
of them is developing a component for an ethnic bioweapon.”
the hell is that?” Emma asks.
theory is that ethno-bombs can be used to target specific genetic or cultural
anomalies recognized in certain ethnic groups,” Arnie explains. “An organic
example is how white settlers in the US almost wiped out a tribe of indigenous
natives with small pox.”
lets loose with a piercing whistle. “I can only imagine how the Quorum plans on
using this. Sell it to the highest bidder? Blackmail a government?”
all of the above,” Jack says.
soon before this project reaches completion?” I ask.
smiles up at me. “We’re beta-testing now. I’ll be presenting my findings to
my Quorum brethren at our next meeting. If it is chosen for implementation,
I’ll be poised to be the Quorum’s next leader.”
“Where and when is the
“We’ve yet to receive
“Who are your fellow Quorum members?”
shrugs. “We never meet without masks. Anonymity allows us to contribute freely,
without threat of exposure. ”
“Robert, why are you doing this, even when you
know it’s illegal, unethical, and inhumane?” I have to ask, and not just
because I’m incredulous at his despicable behavior, but to get it on record.
stares at me, as if I’m crazy or something. “For the money, of course! Not just
for the fees to our companies, but because of the dividends to thirteen
stockholders of Quorum Ltd.” He chuckles. “Well, for the ten who are left.”
unfortunately you don’t have time to read him the riot act,” Jack says. “So
give Sleeping Beauty his wake-up potion and promise you’ll rendezvous with him
after his match.”
do.” I pocket Robert’s phone. Then I mix the SP-117 antidote into Robert’s
champagne flute with a pinky finger and hand it to him. “Here, drink this.”
gulps it down.
Robert comes to, he’s pleasantly surprised to find me straddling him. As I
rise, smoothing the skirt of my dress back into place. “Was it as good for you
as it was for me?”
bring him to the right conclusion that we’re both satisfied with our little
picnic hank-panky, I guide his hand to the clasps on the front of my bra.
gets the hint, and hooks them into place. “Um….yeah…great!” He smiles, but he
shakes his head, confused.
a long kiss, I help him buckle his breeches. He groans ecstatically as I pat
Bobby Junior back into position and shove him toward the tent door. “Why don’t
we have another go-round, after the match? But only if you’re the victor! I’ll
be cheering from the sidelines, so make Mama proud!”
stumbles out of the tent like a man with the world at his feet. Still, I have
no doubt that, presented with his own confession, he’ll turn on his Quorum brethren.
If not, those feet will be in shackles for the rest of his life.
I know for a fact that they don’t have a polo team in Gitmo.
© 2013 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Author.
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Read an excerpt...
London. Paris. Guantanamo Bay.
Donna Stone is looking for love
— and terrorists — in all the wrong places.
In this fourth full-length novel of The Housewife Assassin series, Donna Stone finds out that breaking up is hard to do.
Then again, so is dating a terrorist, let alone eleven of them! Does this make Donna a serial dater, or a serial killer?
Worse yet, an old flame gets in the way of Donna's chance for true love.
But she doesn't cry…She gets even.
(A small portion of this book appeared as a novella in
"Guns and Roses: A Murder She Writes Anthology".)
Here's a taste of the dirty dealings in my steamy political thriller, THE CANDIDATE.
Enjoy, and TGIF,
knows about ‘Flamingo.’” Talbot abhorred making eye contact with anyone, but
this time, so that Smith would have no misunderstanding about his anxiety over
the issue, he made sure to meet the other man’s eyes in the rear view mirror
when he broke that bit of news.
Smith’s eyes did not go wide, nor did they narrow. He didn’t even blink, let
alone give the limo’s steering wheel an involuntary smack in frustration. If
there was any reaction at all, perhaps it was the ghost of a smile that, for
just one brief second, shadowed his lips.
Then again, maybe Talbot imagined that.
he was impressed with Smith’s nonchalance under stress. This time, though,
there was too much at stake, and he wanted Smith to commiserate with him; to
feel his pain, so to speak. Hell, for once—just once!— he wished the man would
act like a human being, not the cold, calculating sociopathic killer he was.
“So, what are we going to do about it?”
kept his eyes on Talbot, ostensibly as reassurance that he was all ears, but
actually so that the vice president wouldn’t notice his finger slipping behind
the rear view mirror. Talbot had heaved himself into the car and blurted it out
so fast that for once, Smith hadn’t had time to activate the digital recorder
first. “That depends. How do you know for sure that Mansfield knows anything?”
twerp, Paul Twist. He’s angling for U.S. Attorney General, once I get elected.
Thinks I owe it to him, considering his Judas routine.” Talbot shook his head
stuff has been pretty reliable thus far. Go ahead and string him along until I
can track down his source.” Frankly Smith hoped Talbot would grant the kid his
wish. It gave him a hard-on just thinking he could have one over on the head
honcho in the Justice Department, particularly one who obviously had his own
mole buried somewhere within the bowels of the Pentagon. “It means there’s a
leak in your organization.”
makes you think the leak is on my side? It could be one of your cutthroats.”
‘cutthroats’ are pros who know how to keep their mouths shut. It’s power
players like you who feel the need to let someone know what you’re up to, if
only to stroke your own egos—or to save your own asses.” Smith let that sink
in. “In any event, I guess we have a little problem.”
this ‘we’ shit? It’s your problem, not mine.” Talbot poked Smith’s headrest to
make his point. “And it’s fucking humongous. So fix it. And fast. I don’t doubt
for a second that Mansfield plans to use it against me. Against all of us.
Besides losing the nomination, I can be tried for treason! Just remember—if the
old men and I go down, so do you.”
you ordering me to exterminate Mansfield?”
do I have to spell it out for you?” Talbot’s shout certainly left no doubt of
his intentions, either live or digitized. “You know, accidents happen to
everyone. Even presidential candidates. Only don’t make it a public
assassination. The goal is to get rid of the problem, not make the man a
© 2013 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Author.
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My cell in the Santa Monica hoosegow could do
with a little sprucing up, but my roomies, Big Bitch Bitsy and Shitfaced Leona,
would get in my face and threaten me with some smackdown should I even consider
rearranging their fine collection of Chippendales trading cards, which has been
stuck onto the concrete wall with Bubblicious.
I’ve been in this hellhole for the past seven
hours. I don’t plan on staying here another night. Still, Bitsy (whereas she
uses this as a surname, I don’t want to disrespect her by calling her by the
much less bestie-friendly Big or Bitch) is no fool. She sees me eyeing the
bottom bunk near the window, and wants to set me straight up front that it’s
hers. Bitsy’s fist goes for my nose. To her surprise, I’m able to stop it with
my stiffened palm, and twist her arm out behind her, which is all it takes to
warn her that not only sticks and stones, but pressure in the right spot, is
all it takes to break her bones. Being raised by gentlefolk, I release her with
a warning that doesn’t mar the reputation of the woman who bore her, or
reference some embarrassing part of her anatomy.
You’d think she’d take the hint that I’m not
someone she should be messing with, but no.
The long shadows cast by our cell’s fugly
fluorescent overhead light tip me off that she’s about to stab me with a shiv
made from a metal spring from Leona’s bunk. A roundhouse kick to Bitsy’s gut
sends her reeling backward into the wall. I cram her head against it with my
version of a Vulcan Mind Meld, where pressure points in three key spots on her
cranium has Bitsy repeating every word I say. “I will act like a lady at all
times. I will share with my bunkmates. I will talk in a lady-like voice. I
won’t use my nasty pottymouth.”
Works every time. Thank you, Mr. Spock.
“Tsk, tsk. Is that any way to make friends and
I turn around to find Jack smiling at me from
just beyond the bars. So, that was the reason for the salacious whistles and
catcalls coming from the other cells. Usually, it’s for a new prisoner, or as
they call them here, “fresh meat.” This time it’s for six-feet-two-inches of
prime beefcake in an Armani suit.
I wave gaily at him. Okay, it’s more like a
middle-finger salute. “’Bout damn time you got here. If it’s going to take you
seven hours to drive a whole two miles, why do you own a Lamborghini?”
“Because the girls love it.” Noting my raised
brow and Bitsy’s shiv in my hand has him rethinking his answer. “In all
seriousness, Ryan and I are having a hell of a time convincing the local
authorities that you didn’t kill Edwina. It doesn’t help that your prints are
the only ones on the murder weapon.”
“But I explained that to the SWAT guys! It was
in my hand when Breck and I wrestled for it, and he twisted my arm so that it
was pointing at her when he squeezed the trigger.”
“Likely story,” mutters Leona, through her
I peel her favorite Chippendale off the wall and
tear it in half. She whimpers, but takes the hint that she better keep mum in
front of my gentleman caller.
Jack shakes his head at my cruelty. “It doesn’t
help that the security video shows you as coming out of the House of Mirrors
right after Breck got shot in there.”
Suddenly, it looks like I’ll have the time to
complete a full makeover of my jail cell.
I smack the bars between us with my fist. “Oh my
God! If I end up in jail for Edwina’s murder, Carl will be given custody of the
kids! I’ve got to get out of this mess!”
“Don’t worry about Carl. The files Edwina left
behind have put him back on the Watch List, and Breck, too for that matter.
Unfortunately, Carl left with Asimov’s contingent before we could stop him.”
“Well, that’s some relief.” I feel tears forming
in my eyes. “What have you told the children about my absence?”
“Just that you were in the wrong place at the
wrong time. Unfortunately, your arrest made the news in a big way. The police
leaked Breck’s version of it. Needless to say, all of Hilldale is buzzing about
it. Penelope and her posse actually believe that you’re jealous of Babette.
Mrs. Breck’s silence on the topic isn’t helping matters.”
“Figures she’d be towing his party line.” I
shake my head in disgust. “Breck is a member of the Quorum. For that alone,
we’ve got to bring him back. Seriously, Jack, what are we going to do?”
“We just have to wait it out, for however long
it takes.” He looks down at his watch “Which should be about… now.”
For just a few seconds, all the lights in the
Jack looks down the hall. Seeing that the two
guards have been distracted by the shouts of the cellmates over this disruption
of their routine, he slips me a small bag through the bars.
“That was Arnie,” he mutters, just barely loud
enough for me to hear. “He’s just put their security feed on a loop. It’ll run
for a couple of hours. In the meantime, this spray turns these two into
sleeping beauties. If need be, you can use the spray on the guards, too, but I
think the diversion Arnie is causing in Cell Block C will keep them busy for
awhile. We guessed at the uniform size. The smart card gets you through every
door in this joint. Abu and I will be waiting down the block in his ice cream
I give him a thumbs up. I wish I could kiss him,
but I don’t want to make my roomies jealous.
I’m just glad he’s kept his shirt on, and he’s
kept his a bowtie and French cuffs at home.
(c) 2012 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be resold or redistributed without prior written permission from Josie Brown or Signal Press Books (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Signal Press / In bookstores now!
Book 1, THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Book 2, THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S
GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING