The Odd Couple

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

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

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

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

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

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1

Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

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It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

A twist of fate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

EC Book1Extracurricular / Book 1
Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

Extracurricular: Why it’s timely.

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

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

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

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

Enjoy,

—Josie

 

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.

Squeeeee! TOTLANDIA is up on Amazon!

Totlandia5_2TOTLANDIA
Book 1: The Onesies

 Coliloquy Books / 978-0-9740214-0-9 / eBook

Buy it NOW, on Amazon.com

Buy it NOW, on BN.com

Buy the Book App NOW, on BN.com

Friendship. Lies. Seduction. Betrayal. 
Welcome to Totlandia.

The salacious secrets of Desperate Housewives meet the aspirational lifestyles of Sex and the City in San Francisco’s most elite mommies group

In this sometimes bittersweet (and always humorous) novel, the friendships among four women who meet in a moms-and-tots playgroup are tested as they address their presumptions, family traumas, love, passion, and the hard realities of parenting their children.

Read an excerpt here…

Author's Q&A here…

Join the TOTLANDIA Facebook Page (Lots of contests and prizes…)

You can’t just be beautiful. You have to be smart, too. Great example: Grace Kelly.

Grace Kelly reading

 

No doubt about it: reading looks fabulous on everybody.

— Josie


HAH New-Blue Book AHBThe Housewife Assassin's Handbook
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There is only one man I’d leave my husband for: 007.

Daniel Craig SkyfallOkay, maybe I wouldn't actually leave Martin. I'd come home at mealtimes.

I'm just talkin' dessert now, the amuse bouche, when I rhapsodize about James Bond…well really, the James Bond, as epitomized by Daniel Craig. He's the perfect 007 for these times.

He's so spot on in the role, that I don't even mind his girly-man routine in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

Check out this new trailer for SKYFALL, the latest Bond flick, which will be out in November.

Love this line:

007: Everybody needs a hobby.

Bad Guy Javier Bardem: So, what's yours?

007: Resurrection.

Ummmmmmmmmmm.

Shaken and stirred,

–Josie

HAH-Hanging-Man-New-BlueThe Housewife Assassin's Handbook

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

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"This is a super sexy and fun read that you shouldn't miss!"
–Mary Jacobs, Bookhounds

 

 

Pretend it’s the last day on Earth. Now, what would you say?

Old friends
I was speaking to an old friend the other day. She was dreading a very public run-in with some guy she who she had once been attracted to, dated, fell in love with, felt passion for…

Then they broke up.

The break-up wasn't a "good" one. (The term "good break up" has to be an oxymoron, am I right?)

"So, what do I say to him, if he's there?" she asked. "Or should I say anything at all? Should I just ignore him? I'm sure he'd prefer that. I'll bet he'll ignore me, too."

I nodded. "Good question. But everyone there knows both of you. And they know you used to date."

"Don't remind me," she sighed. It's going to be like the OK Corral. Who takes aim first? Who ends up wounded, or dead and buried?"

"But isn't that the point? Wasn't whatever happened between you buried, long ago?"

She shrugged. Obviously not, if she's still digging it up now, so many years later.

"Okay," I said, "Here's a thought: why not treat him as if this is the last time in your life you'll ever see him? If doing so means getting out your feels, so be it. If it means pretending anything he said or did to get you upset is long forgotten, do it. Ask yourself this: do you really need to hold a grudge this long?"

"No, of course not." The tears rolled in even lines, down her face. "We've both moved on."

Next week, she'll have a chance to prove this, to herself, if not to him as well.

Frankly, I hope it begins and ends with a hug, and a chance to catch up on the life journey each took separately, even as their paths cross once more.

Grudges keep us from being happy.

Grudges don't hurt others, only ourselves.

You may not forget, but yes, you can forgive.

And you're not doing it for anyone but yourself.

–Josie

The Housewife Assassin's Handbook

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

 

HAH-Hanging-Man-New-BlueThe Housewife Assassin's Handbook

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

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"This is a super sexy and fun read that you shouldn't miss!"
–Mary Jacobs, Bookhounds

"…If I was a housewife, I would want to be Donna.  I'm not kidding guys, the girl can shoot, seduce, and kill, all while balancing the demands of carpool and managing the suburban mommies and their opinion of her and her kids.  Her hostess skills are to die for, and many have fallen for her seduction routines.  So what if the neighborhood busybodies think she's cheating on her husband?  The reality is, he's dead, and she can't even mourn him in public.  They can get over it.nter Jack, who is a fantastic and well known agent, and sexy to boot.  The chemistry between the two of them is enough to set water on fire…" — Cat's Thoughts

"This book totally reminded me of the movie Mr & Mrs. Smith. Not that it is a copy of the movie, but that it has all of the thrills and enjoyment of the movie. It's a fast-paced read, the gadgets are awesome, and I could just picture Donna fighting off Russian gangsters and skinheads all the while having a pie at home cooling on the windowsill. As a housewife myself, this book was a fantastic escape that had me dreaming "if only" the whole way through. The book doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes for the perfect combination of mystery and humour…"  –Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea

Impossibly Tongue Tied gets its village…in Europe, Australia, and Japan, anyhow.

Impossibly_Tongue_Tied_1024x768For novelists, all of our books are our children. As a parent of nine of them (and counting!), I can honestly say that I don't play favorites, even if one or more has done better than the others.

Until recently, authors shared parenting responsibilities with their publishers. We write the books and in many cases promote them as well, while the publishers edit, create covers, print, distribute and promote the books to bookstores and readers.

Sometimes it's a wonderful collaboration. The book is nurtured by both, and flourishes out in the hard, cold world. But in many cases, the book is neglected by one parent or the other.

Sadly, this was the case with Impossibly Tongue Tied, my second novel. The publisher admitted they had no plans other than to toss the book onto the shelf.

Hearing this broke my heart.  At the time I wrote it, I was going through a family crisis, and put all my energy and angst into creating a fun, dark farce on the world of Hollywood fame and celebrity. I cried and laughed the whole time a wrote it. (Sort of like Diane Keaton, as she processed Jack Nicholson out of her system via her play, in Something's Gotta Give; I've got that clip, below…)

From the letters I received from readers, I was happy to hear I'd accomplished my goal.

Thankfully, the publisher only has rights to the book in North America (for now, anyway; my publisher will only allow me to  buying leftover inventory at a price that is worse than wholesale, and shipping above that; bookstores get free shipping, whereas the authors do not; go figure).

For those of you who live in other parts of the world, I've created a digital eBook version of Impossibly Tongue Tied, and I've priced it at a very reasonably. In Amazon.uk, you'll only pay £1.96 and throughout the other Amazon online stores, EUR 2,68.

If you enjoy it, please do review it within Amazon (it will be up soon, in the Apple iTunes Bookstore as well) and on GoodReads.

My baby deserves to be loved.

It takes a village to love a book,

Josie

Reviews:

"Brad, Angelina, Britney and Kevin may want to check out Josie Brown's new novel, Impossibly Tongue-Tied, for its ripped-from-the-headlines plot that mixes their scandals together…"
– PAGE SIX, New York Post

"Josie Brown gives us another page-turning guilty pleasure." – Marin Magazine


SYNOPSIS:
All over Hollywood, men are dialing O—for orgasms. Her steamy naughty talk fills them with lust and longing, and helps them perform like the studs they claim to be.

In truth, the industry's favorite "erotic phone operatrix" is Nina Harte, a struggling actress who has put her career on hold so that her husband, Nathan, can pursue his own dreams of stardom.

When Nathan's career takes off, so does he, leaving Nina and their four-year-old son, Jake, for his diva costar, Katerina McPherson. Then "Kat 'n' Nat" are crowned the media's newest celebrity sweethearts, and Kat labels Nina an unfit mother in order to win custody of Jake, just so that she can have that highly-coveted celebrity accessory—an adorable child—sans any unsightly stretch marks.

The one person who does care about Nina is Nathan's agent, Sam Godwin. In fact, he's in love with her. And because he has both a heart and a conscience, Sam feels guilty for having put Nat in Kat's path in the first place . . .

So, how will he feel when he learns that Nina and O are one and the same?

Read an excerpt here…

 

 IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED  (Signal Press, 2006, 2012)

Order it here, from

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Amazon. de, only EUR 2,68!

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Pssst! New cover, and new Housewife Assassin Book: Guide to Gracious Killing!

Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-v6I'm pleased as punch for the cover of the second book in my Housewife Assassin series:

The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing.

Launch date: October, 2012.

Donna and Jack are in to all kinds of trouble–the kind of hot mess that can cause an  international incident:

A nuclear arms summit, hosted by a politically-connected American billionaire industrialist, provides the perfect opportunity for a rogue operative to assassinate of the newly-elected Russian president on US soil. Acme operative Donna Stone's mission:

Seek and exterminate the shooter, before all hell–and World War III–break loose.

Not to mention what happens when Donna files for divorce.

Throw in a couple of off-the-map school field trips and a few naughty neighbors, you've got a whole lot of fun.

And if you haven't done so already, sign up for my eLetter for a heads-up on the pubication…as well as a VERY special contest I'll be running to celebrate the book's launch.

You.

Will.

Love.

It,

— Josie

*Cover design: Andrew Brown, ClickTwiceDesign.com. Thanks, Andy, for another great cover!

 In the meantime, pick up a copy of

 

HAH-Hanging-Man-New-BlueThe Housewife Assassin's Handbook

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

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"This is a super sexy and fun read that you shouldn't miss!"
–Mary Jacobs, Bookhounds