10 Things You Should Never Say to a Novelist

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(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?"

 
I write novels and I'm proof that not all writers live a life of poverty.

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–

From readers.

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.

 

HA Prequel The-Housewife-Assassin's-Deadly-Dossier-FinalJosie Brown is the author of The Housewife Assassin's Handbook series, as well as the Totlandia series. Her next book, The Housewife Assassin's Deadly Dossier, will be released in June 2014.

“I don’t mind living in a man’s world…”

Marilyn-monroe-reading

 

"…as long as I can be a woman in it."

— Marilyn Monroe

 

____________________________

 

 

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A nude sunbathing serial killer, a Lord of the Flies 'tween takeover, poison-dart throwing pygmies……

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And you call this a vacation?

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Gotta love this headline in The New Yorker: “The Pay Is Too Damn Low.” Duh, yeah.

I don't feel the need to elaborate on this New Yorker article.

America, isn't it time you vote you pocketbooks, instead of letting the lobbyists decide your fates?

–Josie

THE FINANCIAL PAGE / The New Yorker

THE PAY IS TOO DAMN LOW

BY AUGUST 12, 2013

A few weeks ago, Washington, D.C., passed a living-wage bill designed to make Walmart pay its workers a minimum of $12.50 an hour. Then President Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage (which is currently $7.25 an hour). McDonald’s was widely derided for releasing a budget to help its employees plan financially, since that only underscored how brutally hard it is to live on a McDonald’s wage. And last week fast-food workers across the country staged walkouts, calling for an increase in their pay to fifteen dollars an hour. Low-wage earners have long been the hardest workers to organize and the easiest to ignore. Now they’re front-page news.

The workers’ grievances are simple: low wages, few (if any) benefits, and little full-time work. In inflation-adjusted terms, the minimum wage, though higher than it was a decade ago, is still well below its 1968 peak (when it was worth about $10.70 an hour in today’s dollars), and it’s still poverty-level pay. To make matters worse, most fast-food and retail work is part time, and the weak job market has eroded what little bargaining power low-wage workers had: their earnings actually fell between 2009 and last year, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Still, the reason this has become a big political issue is not that the jobs have changed; it’s that the people doing the jobs have. Historically, low-wage work tended to be done either by the young or by women looking for part-time jobs to supplement family income. As the historian Bethany Moreton has shown, Walmart in its early days sought explicitly to hire underemployed married women. Fast-food workforces, meanwhile, were dominated by teen-agers. Now, though, plenty of family breadwinners are stuck in these jobs. That’s because, over the past three decades, the U.S. economy has done a poor job of creating good middle-class jobs; five of the six fastest-growing job categories today pay less than the median wage. That’s why, as a recent study by the economists John Schmitt and Janelle Jones has shown, low-wage workers are older and better educated than ever. More important, more of them are relying on their paychecks not for pin money or to pay for Friday-night dates but, rather, to support families. Forty years ago, there was no expectation that fast-food or discount-retail jobs would provide a living wage, because these were not jobs that, in the main, adult heads of household did. Today, low-wage workers provide forty-six per cent of their family’s income. It is that change which is driving the demand for higher pay.

The situation is the result of a tectonic shift in the American economy. In 1960, the country’s biggest employer, General Motors, was also its most profitable company and one of its best-paying. It had high profit margins and real pricing power, even as it was paying its workers union wages. And it was not alone: firms like Ford, Standard Oil, and Bethlehem Steel employed huge numbers of well-paid workers while earning big profits. Today, the country’s biggest employers are retailers and fast-food chains, almost all of which have built their businesses on low pay—they’ve striven to keep wages down and unions out—and low prices.

This complicates things, in part because of the nature of these businesses. They make plenty of money, but most have slim profit margins: Walmart and Target earn between three and four cents on the dollar; a typical McDonald’s franchise restaurant earns around six cents on the dollar before taxes, according to an analysis from Janney Capital Markets. In fact, the combined profits of all the major retailers, restaurant chains, and supermarkets in the Fortune 500 are smaller than the profits of Apple alone. Yet Apple employs just seventy-six thousand people, while the retailers, supermarkets, and restaurant chains employ 5.6 million. The grim truth of those numbers is that low wages are a big part of why these companies are able to stay profitable while offering low prices. Congress is currently considering a bill increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years. That’s an increase that the companies can easily tolerate, and it would make a significant difference in the lives of low-wage workers. But that’s still a long way from turning these jobs into the kind of employment that can support a middle-class family. If you want to accomplish that, you have to change the entire way these companies do business. Above all, you have to get consumers to accept significantly higher, and steadily rising, prices. After decades in which we’ve grown used to cheap stuff, that won’t be easy.

Realistically, then, a higher minimum wage can be only part of the solution. We also need to expand the earned-income tax credit, and strengthen the social-insurance system, including child care and health care (the advent of Obamacare will help in this regard). Fast-food jobs in Germany and the Netherlands aren’t much better-paid than in the U.S., but a stronger safety net makes workers much better off. We also need many more of the “middle-class jobs” we’re always hearing about. A recent McKinsey report suggested that the government should invest almost a trillion dollars over the next five years in repairing and upgrading the national infrastructure, which seems like a good place to start. And we really need the economy as a whole to grow faster, because that would both increase the supply of good jobs and improve the bargaining power of low-wage workers. As Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, told me, “The best friend that low-wage workers have is a strong economy and a tight job market.” It isn’t enough to make bad jobs better. We need to create better jobs. ♦

ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTOPH NIEMANN

(c) The New Yorker. All rights reserved.

 

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“Does
champagne make you tipsy?” Sugar CEO Number Two sounds hopeful as he holds a
bottle of Tattinger’s over my glass.

I
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.

On
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
friendly.”

 By “friendly,” he means allowing his hands to
cup my breasts while he probes my molars with his tongue.

I’ve
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
but.

Even
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?”

“Sure
she can,” Jack, mutters, “By putting her heel in his groin.”

Wishful
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
team?

As
if reading my mind, Emma murmurs into my diamond-studded audio feed, “We’ve
narrowed down the list of potential suspects to five.”

Really?
That many?

Time’s
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?”

Robert
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.”

I
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
it?”

He
eyes both the glass and me longingly. Finally he nods. “I guess you’re
right.” 

I
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. ”

That
raises a smile on his face, not to mention a tent in his polo breeches. 

I’m
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.

While
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.

He
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—

Until,
finally, his eyes glaze over. That’s when I know it’s safe to ask, “So, tell me
Robert, what’s your last name?”

“Higginbotham.”
The word comes out in a drowsy whisper.

“Nailed
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—”

I
close my eyes and shake my head. “One at a time, children, please!”

“He’s
CEO of Catalyst Industries!” Emma’s answer comes out in a rush. “It’s a
conglomerate that owns—”

“—A
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.”

“Any
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.

It’s
time for some answers from the man in question. “Robert Higginbotham, are you a
member of the Quorum?”

He
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.

“And
what do your companies do for the Quorum?”

“Each
of them is developing a component for an ethnic bioweapon.”

“What
the hell is that?” Emma asks.

“The
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.”

Emma
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?”

“Try
all of the above,” Jack says.

“How
soon before this project reaches completion?” I ask.

Robert
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
meeting?”

“We’ve yet to receive
that information.”

 “Who are your fellow Quorum members?”

He
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.

He
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.”

“Donna,
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.”

“Will
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.”

He
gulps it down.

When
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?”

To
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.

He
gets the hint, and hooks them into place. “Um….yeah…great!” He smiles, but he
shakes his head, confused. 

After
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!”

Robert
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.

And
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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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.
 

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(A small portion of this book appeared as a novella in 
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LOL! One of my fave scenes in THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING

Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-FinalEnjoy!

— Josie

 

EXCERPT

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
influence enemies?”

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
drunken stupor.

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
jail flash.

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
truck.”

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 (info@signaleditorial.com).

 


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Guide to Gracious Killing 
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TGIF Excerpt from The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook: “Artful Women”

PolkaDotAx

Memorial Day weekend means you'll have plenty of time to catch up on your reading. So what are you waiting for? Download a FREE copy of THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK. 

In this scene, my heroine, Donna Stone, is on the hunt for a large shipment of stolen plutonium. A hot lead sends her to a posh Beverly Hills art gallery. Just because the owner is sleazy doesn't mean he has anything to hide–

Or does he?

Donna finds out–the hard way.

Speaking of works of art, here's another angry housewife painting from one of my favorite artists, Kelly Reemtsen. You can catch her work here on her website, and also at Skidmore Contemporary Art in Santa Monica, David Klein Gallery in Birmingham Michigan, or DeBuck Gallery, in New York.

The subject is wearing the perfect frock for a the start of summer, don't you think? And who'd a thunk an ax would make such an eye-catching accessory?

TGI Holiday Weekend,

— Josie

 

Excerpt

“It’s a Larkaro,” Armand Fronsdal hisses in my
ear. “Arresting, is it not?”

Yep, that’s exactly how I’d describe an art
installation made up of a video projector playing a short film in which three
big-breasted nymphs cavort in the woods. But hey, what do I know from art?

One thing I do know: this man’s breath leaves a
lot to be desired.

But when I turn to face him, I’ve already set my
lips into a come-hither pout. “I’m looking for something a bit more… je ne sais quoi? Ah! Romantique.”

Having one-upped his Lounge Lizardeese with my
high school French has scored me major points with this jerk. He crooks a
finger at me to follow him.

He is too tall and too slight: think Ichabod
Crane in Goth. If his ponytail is supposed to cover up the fact that he’s got a
bald spot, he’s failed miserably. He’s wearing more eyeliner than me, which is
saying a lot, because I laid it on thick this morning.

Albeit no thicker than the crap he’s laying on
me now. “Has ma’amselle been complimented for her resemblance to John Singer
Sargent’s magnificent painting of Mrs. Waldorf Astor?”

I shrug. While it is flattering, we both know
it’s a stretch. Edvard Munch’s The Scream,
maybe…

“Ah, well, perhaps we shall find some petit amusement, oui?” I murmur. Playing
the bored art patroness has meant dressing up in a shiny ass-grazing red
leather dress that zips up the front, black fishnet stockings that end in
four-inch Louboutin thigh-high boots, and a veiled chapeau perched atop my
French twist. What with the tightness of the dress and the tiny heels of the
shoes, keeping up with his long strides is a bitch.

The gallery is really a warehouse broken up into
several rooms. He doesn’t stop until he reaches the one farthest to the back of
the building. One wall is made up of medieval pitchforks in a lattice pattern.
Near another, a seven-foot hot pink and purple polka-dot penis rises, thick and
proud, among two humongous blue balls.

Ouch.

The center installation is made up of abstract
mirrored balls of varying sizes, hung from the ceiling. They are dripping some
substance the color of blood.

If this is his idea of romantic, I’m guessing he
doesn’t go on many dates.

Voila,”
he purrs in an accent as bad as mine.

C'est magnifique,”
I whisper as I stare up at the mirrored balls.

“This is my private atelier,” he hisses proudly.
“Everything in here is my own creation. If this piece speaks to you, I’m sure
we can come up with some arrangement: say, forty thou? That’s a third off the
catalog price.”

“Such a steal. Almost wholesale.” I tilt my
head. Unconsciously I straighten the seams of my stockings. In truth, I am
taking aim with the toe of my right bootie. It is loaded with truth serum. The
sooner I take this guy down, the better. This place gives me a bad case of the
creeps, and I want out of here fast—

Ah, darn! His cell phone just buzzed. I wave him
off as he excuses himself to answer it.

In one of the mirrored balls hanging from the
ceiling, I see that he is almost at the door when he freezes. His back
straightens. Then slowly he turns around.

He has a wary look on his face. He doesn’t think
I see him as he plucks one of the pitchforks from the wall. And steps up behind
me—

But I’m too quick for him, swinging the largest
of the mirrored balls toward his skull.

It knocks him down but not out. The pitchfork
skitters on the slippery floor. As I lunge for it, he grabs my ankle, and I
fall hard—

Damn. These. Heels…

Copyright © 2011 by Josie Brown. Published in May 2011 by Signal Press. 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.

————————————————-



HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012

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

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

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Special Memorial Day Excerpt, from The Housewife Assassin’s Guide to Gracious Killing

Prince-harry-with-shirt

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner,  I thought you'd enjoy this excerpt from the second book in my Housewife Assassin series, Guide to Gracious Killing. It's a perfectly tasty little morsel because it includes a bit of military derring-do, along with a visit (appropriately timed) by Great Britain's Prince Harry.

Enjoy,

— Josie

Chapter 1
Breaking Bad Hostessing Habits

 

Every woman wants to be
the perfect hostess and frets over her inadequacies when it comes to the
gracious art of entertaining. Pshaw! A little forethought and a few hours of
planning make it as easy as cherry pie!

There is, however, one
ironclad rule every hostess must follow:

Make all your guests
wish they never had to leave.

Especially in a coffin.
With a bullet lodged in their heads.

 

“You’re quite a saucy minx!” Prince Harry’s ale-slurred
come-on can barely be heard over the techno-vibe emanating from a
starship-worthy console of the Ivy Lounge rooftop’s head-bobbing deejay. “What
say you give me a peek as to where your tattoo ends?”

His head is cocked downward, as if it might give
him the ex-ray vision he’ll need in order to see the rattle on the faux-tatt’ed
snake drawn from my belly to nether regions that lay under my thong bikini.

“You’re a cheeky sod. I do have a face, you
know.” I snap my fingers in front of his nose, in order to draw his eyes
northward.

I’ve succeeded, sort of. But come on, already.
The diplomacy born and bred into the Prince of Wales can’t beat two millennia
of innate urges and four pints of Guinness.

His eyes linger below my neck, albeit above my
abdomen.

When, finally, our eyes meet, I lean in and
whisper, “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.”

I’m lying, even if he doesn’t know it—yet.

His outright laugh is accompanied with a shake
of his head, and a tug at the waistline of his briefs. “No tats under these
trollies, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint.”

I finger his briefs longingly and then sigh.
“I’m sure you’ll make it up to me somehow.”

His smile is his vow not to disappoint.

God save the queen…

It’s no secret the prince has been stateside
with his Royal Air Force unit, learning the latest tricks and treats of the
AH-64D Apache helicopter: his vehicle of choice for his upcoming tour of duty
in Afghanistan. The soldiers completed their training today. Tomorrow they head
home. To celebrate, the soldiers are here, in San Diego, which is just a couple
of hours west of their training base, the Naval Air Facility at El Centro.

Seems some chatter, intercepted by MI6, has led British
intelligence to deduce the prince is the latest target of “the Leprechaun,” a
notorious assassin affiliated with the Irish terrorist cell known as 32CSM. If
the Leprechaun succeeds in picking off the spare to the throne, then once again
the always-thin strand of peace between Ireland and Great Britain will be
ripped to shreds.

If it happens on our side of the pond, the U.S.
will have mud on its face, not to mention the bluest of blood on its hands.

So yep, I have to stop the Leprechaun before he
gets lucky.

My employer, the freelance black ops agency
known in the field as Acme Corporation, paid big bucks to the club owners so I
could be up close and personal with the prince. My goal is not to shag, let
alone snag, Harry the Hottie. It’s to save his adorable hide from a possible
assassination attempt.

The prince leans in, close enough to ask in a
seductive albeit ale-sodden growl, “Want me to sign your bikini?”

I look down between my breasts. “Oops, forgot my
pen. But you seem to be carrying one, in your pants pocket. Or maybe you’re
just happy to see me.”

He’s laughing so hard his last gulp of Guinness
goes down the wrong way.

“Prince Charming has a one-track mind.” Jack
Craig’s snarl comes in loud and clear through the tiny microphone in my ear. As
the team leader for this Acme mission, he’s close by, but far enough away no
potential assassin can spot him.

Trust me, there is a hitter lurking nearby.

Jack is also my main squeeze, which is why he’s
growling about my having to play the coquette while under deep cover (in this
bikini, I’m talking figuratively if not literally) as one of the nightclub’s
VIP bottle girls. More specifically, this is one mission he’d wished I hadn’t
accomplished—become Harry the Hottie’s pick-up du jour.

Needless to say, the club’s real bottle girls
are pea green with envy. They can’t figure out how this newbie became
Cinderella of this Century.

If I told them my aim and my first-degree black
belt status had something to do with it, would they believe me? Probably not.
All they see is that I’m just this side of Cougarville, which means Harry is
less discriminating than they had hoped.

For once, I’m glad Jack isn’t here, in the
cordoned-off VIP section. One involuntary muscle flex and prince’s all-too-obvious
brawny goon squad—three of his Royal Air Force mates—would be on top of Jack,
like suds on ale. 

At MI6’s behest, we’ve kept the fact he’s a
target from Harry, for now, anyway. This, I’m sure, is why he feels so
cocksure. This mission wouldn’t have been so hard if the prince weren’t so
insistent about partying “like an ordinary surfer bloke,” is how he so
preciously puts it.      

Until now, the natives have been awed as much by
his regular dude personality as his title. But just as the deejay ratchets up
the hip-hop club mix, six drunken sorority sisters stroll our way. One of the
girls, a Kate Middleton lookalike, pierces me with a jealous glare.

I stare back and smile, as if to say, Take the
hint. Get lost.

Her eyes shift from me to one of Harry’s RAF
buds. She waves coyly at him, and he’s smitten. Smirking back, he nods her
over. She squeals and grabs the hand of one of her girlfriends.

In no time at all, she and her besties have
jumped the red velvet rope. They toss themselves onto the prince’s entourage,
who don’t seem to be fighting them off too hard.

In fact, they’re snapping their fingers at me
with drink orders for their new arm charms.

“Not good.” Jack’s warning in my ear is just
loud enough for me to here.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” I mutter back.

“How about this?” Jack is now shouting into my
earpiece. “You’ve lost Prince Harry.”

He’s right.

The prince seems captivated by a petite, busty
blond beauty. Even in heels, she barely reaches his chest. She had pulled him
out onto the dance floor for a throbbing sex-drenched hip grinder, Andree
Belle’s “Go Go Gadget Heart.”

The strobe lights and smoke machine make it hard
to follow them in the crowd. Then I see them, against one wall. The buxom
little tart drapes her arms around his shoulders and hugs him close, as if
she’ll never let him go.

Apparently, too close. I shove my way through
the crowd until I’m close enough to hear Harry’s woozy cry. “Blimey, you’re no
bird! You’ve got a wanker!”

Before I can pull him away, the prince is pricked
on the neck with something his partner has pulled from her cleavage. Harry’s
groan is loud. I smell smoke, and then the lights go out. But not before the
last strobe catches the triumphant look on his partner’s face.

 “Oh my
God, Jack! The woman with Harry—she’s—not a she! She’s—”

“I know! I saw it, too! The Leprechaun!”

Proof it pays to hit the M.A.C. counter before a
night on the town.

 And to
hang out where the lights are always low.

Everyone is screaming and shoving their way to
the exits, leaving me room to follow the Leprechaun, who is dragging Harry in
the opposite direction up against a wall.

“It’s too dark to see where they went,” I shout
to Jack. “Does anything show up on the club’s security cams?”

“I’m looking now. In the meantime, check the wall
for a hidden pocket door. The schematic of this club shows a few of them on
every level. I’m sure the Leprechaun had his exit scoped out in advance.”

While Jack scans the feeds from the security
cameras, I skim the walls with my hands. Finally, I find it: a tiny catch,
waist high.

I pull it open it just in time to see the
Leprechaun heaving Harry down a long corridor.

He may not be used to running in heels, but I
am. If only I wasn’t running in a bikini, too.

“Too many wobbly bits,” I mutter under my
breath.

It’s inappropriate for Jack to be laughing now,
but he can’t help it. “Just two. And they’re a sight to behold. Prince Charming
will be upset he slept through it.”

The thought of Harry in the French-manicured
hands of an assassin who can start the United Kingdom and Ireland down another
bloody path of un-neighborly relations has me picking up my pace. Unlike the
Leprechaun, I’m smart enough to ditch my high heels. But I’m still not fast
enough to reach them before the Leprechaun rolls him into the backseat of a
dark BMW and screeches off.

I can hear Jack slapping the wall with his fist.
“Aw, damn! We lost them!”

“Nope, I slipped a GPS tracker in the prince’s
trollies.”

“You did what… in his—what?”

“Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t peek. I’ll meet you
around the corner.”

What’s a little white lie between fake husband
and wife?

Before he can say another word, I snap off my
earpiece and run down the block.

 * * *

The naval base’s commanding officer is cussing
up a storm, something about blue-blooded playboy flyboys and horny co-eds.

When, finally, all the steam is out of him, Jack
says in the calmest voice possible, “It looks as if they’re headed for Mexico,
and they’ve got the jump on us. They’re changing vehicles every ten or so
miles, which indicates they don’t know about the tracker. Not yet, anyway. We
can catch them in a 64D, sir.”

Before the CO can let loose with yet another
tsunami of swear words, I hand him my cell phone. His nods and mutters, indicating
he’s heard Acme’s client—also his boss—loud and clear:

Put whatever we need at our disposal.

We grab Charlie Harcourt-Smythe (he’s the
soberest of the RAF pilots) and head to the airstrip. Because of the
sensitivity of the mission, we’ll keep it to that: no FBI, no CIA, and
certainly no local law enforcement. The prince has had enough photo ops for one
visit.

I’ve traded in my bikini for a snug
wind-resistant flight suit. He never did sign my bikini. Maybe later. If it’s
not too late already. 

(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 (info@signaleditorial.com).

 


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Only $3.99!

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TGIF Excerpt: Scotty is dying. Time for Martin to cross the bridge into the 21st Century.

KirkWithPhaser
My husband, Martin, isn't one of those men who must have the latest/greatest in technology. Nor must he demonstrate his manliness with boy toys that are always the biggest, and therefore presumed the best (phallically speaking).

Which brings me to the death of Scotty–an appropriate topic, now that the latest Star Trek Movie ("Into Darkness") is in movie theaters.

No, I don't mean Scotty, the good ship Enterprise's engineer (thank goodness, because I really really love love love Simon Pegg in the role). 

I mean Martin's cell phone, a relic he calls "Scotty," as a quaint reference to the phasers carried by the Star Trek crew. You see, his phone is that tiny.

And it ispossibly as old as the original TV show itself.

Okay, certainly it's not THAT old. Besides, back then there were no cell phones, not to mention the first ones were attached to suitcases, so that would defeat his purpose of carrying the tiniest phone he could find.

In fact, his current cell is so tiny that texting on it (yes, at least it allows him to text, but only predictively) is a tribulation, despite his opposable-thumb dexterity. (He's right up there with the apes and chimps, so my mother was wrong about him.)

And the darn thing certainly ain't "smart." He can't get The Internets, and the pictures it takes look like they were pulled out of an elephant's ass.

Bottom line: Scotty is dying.

It's showing its wonkiness by asking to "Please Insert Sim Card" when it already has one. Or sometimes the screen goes white (yes, at least, originally it was in color). Other times, the message shows appears upside down.

"Honey, Scotty is dying," I tell him in a soothing tone.

"But I hate the new phones! They're too big," he whines "Much too bulky for a man to carry in his pocket."

"Too bad," I respond. "It's dying. That's okay. It lived long and prospered. But if you're waiting for another cell the size of a Star Trek phaser gun, youve got another thing coming. If you need something to carry it in, I'll lend you one of my purses."

Needless to say, this is not the answer he's looking for. 

If he could, he'd wait it out, until cells got small again. Until then, he's still got to reach out and touch someone with something that receives messages that aren't smoke signals, so down to the Verizon store we go.

Speaking of dying, I've got a great excerpt for you today. It comes from Book 2 of The Housewife Assassin series, Guide to Gracious Killing. In it, my heroine, Donna Stone, is charged with protecting  the Russian president from assassins while he's the guest of an American billionaire. Of course, both an assassin and the billionaire make their appearance at exactly the wrong time: while Donna is trying to take a shower.

Awkward.

 
HAH-2-Book-Set (4)Enjoy it. And if you do, feel free to buy it. 

In fact, if you haven't yet read Book 1, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook you can get it free right now, either by itself, or along with Book 2, in The Housewife Assassin's Killer 2-Book Set.

 

EXCERPT

I’ve just clicked on the dryer again, when
there’s another knock on the door. I crack it open to find a maid standing
there, with an armful of towels. “Shall I take them into the bathroom, Madame?”
Her accent is slightly British, which is par for the course around here.

“No, that’s okay. I’ll take them.”

She smiles and hands them to me.

That’s when I see it—a small tattoo of a wolf on
her left arm.

Her eyes follow mine. She senses I know who she
is.

Her arm comes up toward my face. I block it with
my forearm, then kick her in the gut. She falls back, slamming into the
dresser. This stuns her, but just for a second. She reaches behind her and
yanks the dryer from the electrical socket. In no time at all, she’s got the
cord wrapped around both her wrists and arms.

“You won’t stop me from killing him.” Her vow is
soft, but deadly. “With what he’s done to others like me? That pig does not
deserve to live!”

“Trust me I get it. But it’s not happening here,
or now.”

We both know I can’t talk her out of her mission
anymore than she can talk me out of mine: to save Asimov’s sorry ass.

We circle each other warily, assessing each
other’s weaknesses: She’s got more bulk than me, but she’s also slower. I’m
taller, too. Best yet, I’m now up against the dresser. Obviously, she considers
this a weakness because she charges me.

Even with the cord wrapped around my neck, all
it takes is one squirt of my spray cologne in her eyes to blind her.

She stumbles into the bathroom, dragging me with
her into the shower, where she turns on the water, full force. She’s hoping to
wash the sting out of her eyes.

What she doesn’t count on is my ability to kick
her into the shower.

She bangs her head against the marble wall.
Before she comes to her senses, I untangle myself from the cord, plug the dryer
into an electrical socket, and throw it into the tub.

Wolverine’s death mask stare and the smell of
her frying skin sends me gagging from the room followed by a shower of sparks
as the electrical system shorts out.

I shut the bathroom door, then lay down on the
bed to catch my breath.

This time when there’s a tap on the door, I
throw it open, to let Jack in.

But no. It’s Jonah Breck.

I pull my robe tightly around me. “My husband is
out right now.”

He smirks. “I know, dear. That’s why I’m here.
Don’t worry, we’ve got all the time in the world. He’s with the Japanese
defense minister, who is somewhat long-winded.” From behind him, he pulls a
bottle of Tattinger’s and two champagne glasses. “I presume you’re finding your
accommodations to your liking.”

“In all honesty, there’s a short in the
bathroom’s electrical system—”

Before I can say another word, he has backed me
onto the bed. When my robe falls open, he whips the sash out from around me.
Before I know it, he’s flipped me onto my stomach.

“I could use that drink right now,” I gasp, as
he binds my wrists with the sash.

“We’ll celebrate afterward.” I hear him fumbling
with his zipper. “You will, anyway. Trust me, I’ll have you begging for more.”

Promises, promises.

I struggle and try to sweet talk him some sense
into him, but no use. He’s got me pinned. I’ve just about given up any hope of
the Calvary coming when there is a sharp knock on the door.

“Mrs. Stone?” Both Breck and I recognize
Edwina’s voice. “Mrs. Stone, your daughter requests you come immediately.”

“Answer her.” Breck’s hot breath sears my ear.

I shout, “I’ll—I’ll be right there.”

“I’ll have to escort you. The girls are eating
in the south wing media room tonight, and with security as tight as it is… Well,
you can just imagine.”

Breck mutters a curse as he rolls off me. Even
as he unties me with one hand, the other gently follows the curve of my ass—

When he smacks it hard, I swallow the urge to
cry out.

“A love tap. There’s more where that came from.
You’ll love the tour of my dungeon.”

He’s got a dungeon? His corporate bio doesn’t
mention a sadistic streak, but yeah, okay, makes sense. 

I leap up and grab my dress, which is hanging
over the chair.

Breck smiles as I struggle into it. “Allow me to
zip you up.”

I suppress a shudder at the thought of his hands
anywhere on me. Instead, I nod.

He presses the zipper into my skin as he inches
it up, ever so slowly. When he’s done, I feel his lips grazing my neck. They
linger there as he breathes in the scent of my skin, sweat, and disgust.

How I long to smash that champagne bottle over
my host’s head, but seriously, what kind of guest would that make me?

And besides, I can’t deal with the disposal of
two dead bodies tonight.

Before I leave, I flip off Elvis Costello.

I can just imagine Ryan and Arnie’s shock and
awe at seeing Breck slithering out of the room.

I don’t even want to think about Jack’s
reaction.

Let alone what he’ll say about the fried maid in
the shower. I guess I have a lot of explaining to do.

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 (info@signaleditorial.com).

 


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Guide to Gracious Killing 
(Book 2) Only $3.99! 

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Thursday Couple’s Kiss: “Catch and Release”

EmbarrassMeKiss
If she had been expecting his kiss, it would have landed on her lips, as opposed to her eye. 

Or maybe not.

If she'd been expecting it, she might have pushed him away.

Or run in the opposite direction.

Or come up with a million excuses as to why she ducked and dodged him.

"I haven't brushed my teeth," she might have said. Or, "Stop! Someone might be watching!" Or "Not now… not here… not me."

But he took away her option to say no.

Instead, he gave her the option to fall in love.

Then he let her go.

He learned this while fishing. "Catch and release," it's called.

But women aren't fish. They love the chase. They imagine the possibilities. 

They anticipate his next kiss.

— Josie



HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012Free!

The Housewife Assassin's Handbook!

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Read an excerpt…

 

– EVERY DESPERATE HOUSEWIFE WANTS AN ALIAS: Donna Stone has one…and it happens to be government-sanctioned.
– BUT DONNA EARNED IT THE HARD WAY: Her husband was killed the day she delivered their third child.
– TO AVENGE HER HUSBAND'S MURDER: Donna leads a secret life: as an assassin.
– BUT ESPIONAGE MAKES FOR STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: And brings new meaning to that old adage, "Honey, I'm home…"