Game of Thrones’s Emilia Clarke tells her journey with brain injury. It will break your heart.

Emilia Clarke Charity

If you feel you need yet another reason to admire actress Emilia Clarke, here it is. In this very person essay that runs in The New Yorker, she recounts her near-death experiences with two aneurysms—all while filming Game of Thrones.

Her candor is refreshing. Her response to her injuries—the creation of Same You, a foundation that raises money for treatment of others who are recovering from brain injuries and stroke—is nothing less than you'd expect from a woman who is the queen of so many hearts.

—Josie

BLAH! It’s raining. So here are five things you could be doing until it clears up.

It's been a non-stop rain deluge here and, frankly, it's depressing.

Worse yet, it makes me lazy.

I chide myself to get out of my doldrums and do something—anything—that will make me feel better. Here are five things I've come up with:

Clean A Closet1: Clean out a closet.
You no longer have an excuse. You can't use the fact that you'll get more exercise by walking, so dig in.

(By the way, this is not my closet…but it could be.

Ergo, those are not my legs…but they could be—if I took longer walks.)

Pie2: Bake a pie.
After your closet work out, you deserve some reward, am I right?

Pie fits the bill perfectly.
You may not have the right ingredients for your favorite.
That's okay. You're creative, so improvise! The smell wafting through your home will be great!

(By the way: this is not my pie.
But it could be…if my oven had more than one setting: burned.)

Call a Pal3: Call an old friend.
You've had every excuse to put this off. Well, now's the time. You'll feel good about it and so will the person at the other end of the line.

(By the way, this is not me. And not because I don't own a cell phone or because my hair doesn't coil lushly past my shoulders. I just don't have a window seat. However, if I had, I'd perch on it pertly, too!)

Read a Book

4: Read a book.
Admit it: this is what you really want to be doing anyway. With a cup of something hot beside you. Oh, and maybe a nice, warm piece of that pie you've just baked.

5: Cuddle.
Because you don't really want to get out of bed. Heck, it's too cold!
Time to warm things up before you can turn on that oven and make that pie (yeah, right, sure…)

Cuddle In Bed

By the way, this is not me—but it should be.

Whattya think, did I put this in the right order?

Is there something you'd like to add to this list? Hey, I'm all ears. All I'm doing is listening to the rain.

—Josie

Martin and I found this antique musical Santa snow globe at an old curiosity shoppe.

Christmas Snow Globe 2015

At the time it was a splurge for us—thirty dollars—but how could we resist? Turns out the shop owner had just polished its brass base that very morning before putting it in the shop window. "I knew it would go quickly," he said, chuckling. The shop is gone now. Still, I'm sure he'd be happy to know it's given us many years of joy. Every time I hear its version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," I have to smile.

—Josie

My five New Year’s resolutions…

Butternut-squash

Resolution #1:
Stay healthy.
(Note to Self: eat more root vegetables, and less sugar!)

HappyEggs

Resolution #2:
Stay happy.
(Note to Self: much more sex, much less [caloric] sugar!)

I2i_holagraphic

Resolution #3:
Acquire a new language.
(Pig Latin does NOT count.)

Tumblr_lvypsd5Jbc1r03wcgo1_500

Resolution #4:
Experience new things, with total abandon!
(Unless they include black-outs, tattoos, or joining a cult.)

 

 0703_writing_cog

Resolution #5: 
Two thousand words a day! 
(More writing. Note to Self: skipping martini may do the trick…)

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Novelist

ApiringWriters_LoRez_colour

(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.

My guess is that she’s reading Pride and Prejudice…

Keira-knightly-as-elizabeth-bennett

 

Or maybe "The Housewife Assassin's Handbook."

I'll go with the latter.

–Josie

From "Pride and Prejudice, the Musical"

Music and Lyrics by Rita Abrams; Libretto by Josie Brown

The song: 

Bingley_2#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.

 

_________________________________

 

 


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THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
978-0-9740214-0-9

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An excerpt, not my own: the poetic prose of Proust.

JSS 1
These passage, about the power of fiction, comes from Swann's Way, the first volume of French novelist Marcel Proust's epic masterwork, In Search of Lost Time. It is voiced by his narrator, a young Marcel, while sitting in a garden at his parents country estate, outside the small French town of Combray.


This long passage comes in the form of a single paragraph. The punctuation is all Proust's work. He was given to paragraphs that could run up to five pages and sentences,
at times, of up to a thousand words. My husband, Martin, put reading Proust on his must-do list.

"At sixty-one,  I've already outlived Proust by ten years so I thought it was time to get started," he explained to me.

Already Martin has move on to his second volume, Within a Budding Grove.

He recommends that you read this passage more than once. "I've read it a half dozen times, and I think I've absorbed Proust's meaning…mostly."

See if you feel the same way.

Enjoy,

–Josie

 "Next to this central
belief which, while I was reading, would be constantly reaching out from my
inner self to the outer world, towards the discovery of truth, came the
emotions aroused in me by the action in which I was taking part, for these
afternoons were crammed with more dramatic events than occur, often, in a whole
lifetime. These were the events taking place in the book I was reading. It is
true that the people concerned in them were not what Françoise would have
called 'real people.' But none
JSS2of the feelings which the joys or misfortunes of
a real person arouse in us can be awakened except through a mental picture of
those joys or misfortunes; and the ingenuity of the first novelist lay in his
understanding that, as the image was the one essential element in the
complicated structure of our emotions, so that simplification of it which
consisted in the suppression, pure and simple, of real people would be a
decided improvement. A real person, profoundly as we may sympathize with him,
is in a great measure perceptible only through our senses, that is to say,
remains opaque, presents a dead weight which our sensibilities have not the
strength to lift. If some misfortune comes to him, it is only in one small
section of the complete idea we have of him that we are capable of feeling any
emotion; indeed it is only in one small section of the complete idea he has of
himself that he is capable of feeling any emotion either. The novelist's happy
discovery was to think of substituting for those opaque sections, impenetrable
to the human soul, their equivalent in immaterial sections, things, that is,
which one's soul can assimilate. After which it matters not that the actions,
the feeling of this new order of creatures appear to us in the guise of truth,
since we have made them our own, since it is in ourselves that they are
happening, that they are holding in thrall, as we feverishly turn over the
pages of the book, our quickened breath and staring eyes. And once the novelist
has brought us to this state, in which, as in all purely mental states, every
emotion is multiplied ten fold, into which his book comes to disturb us as
might a dream, but a dream more lucid and more abiding than those which come to
us in sleep, why then, for the space of an hour he sets free within us all the
joys and sorrows in the world, a few of which only we should have to spend
years of our actual life in getting to know, and the most intense of which
would never be revealed to us because the slow course of their development
prevents us from perceiving them. It is the same in life; the heart changes,
and it is our worst sorrow; but we know it only through reading, through our
imagination: in reality its alteration, like that of certain natural phenomena,
is so gradual that, even if we are able to distinguish, successively, each of
its different states, we are still spared the actual sensation of change."

 

Both of these paintings were created by John Singer Sargent. The first is called Rose-Marie Ormond Reading in a Cashmere Shawl, and the second is, simply, Man Reading.

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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I’m not going to let 2012 be my “bad hair day” of years, and you shouldn’t either.

AvedonMartin and I used to think that our best years ended in odd numbers.

In hindsight, I think we'd flip that analogy to fit any year in which we weren't having a great year.

For us — and I guess a lot of you, too — 2011 was a mixed blessing. I'm not an avid baseball fan, but there is something to say about "times up to bat": the more you put it out there, the better chance you'll have of scoring a hit, as opposed to an error.

And every now and then, you also hit it out of the park.

Granted, for Team Brown, there were enough errors for 2011 to turn us around on the assumption that odd years are our best. But we also had our fair share of hits, including the launch of four books. My two were The Baby Planner and The Housewife Assassin's Handbook. Martin's books were Fit in 50 Days, and on the last day of the year, The Ultimate New Year's Resolution Diet.

Not only that, but I saw one of my titles, True Hollywood Lies, achieve the ranking of 411 in Amazon Bestsellers, as well as #9 in Amazon's category of Books/Literature & Fiction/Comic.

On the first day of every new year, Martin starts off by saying,  "It's a new year, and we're still here."

He means this, literally as well as figuratively.

It's an inside joke:

One new year's day, just after we moved to Marin County, we were walking our children into Mill Valley's Old Mill Park when the skies opened up. As the rain poured down, an elderly gentleman, standing in his garage called out, "You can stand here with me, if you want, until it blows over."

We were happy to take him up on his offer.

Standing there, we made small talk. I don't know how the subject of the man's wife came up. I guess it had to do with the fact that we'd just started another new year. With the openess  that only comes with fresh emotional wounds, he said, "Yep, just this past new year's day, as we sat down to breakfast, she said, 'Well, it's a new year, and we're still here.' Then she dropped dead of a heart attack."

What a way to start the year: losing the person you love the most, whom you've spent a lifetime.

Any other issues are miniscule. They are a run in the pantyhose of your life.

To put things in perspective: he hadn't had a bad hair day. He had a bad hair year.

Whenever we're coming off a bad year, or we're trepidacious as to what the new year will bring, we remember that man and the wife he mourned.

And we count our blessings. Here are the ones I cherish most:

– We have great health, as do our children.

– We are still as madly in love today as we were on the day we married.

– We saw many of our far-flung family this year, making new memories even as we remembered the old ones.

– Our friends are loving, appreciative and a joy to be around. If only we could see more of them, more often!

– We love what we do, which is write.

You've got to love the fact that life is just one big tease,

— Josie

*Photo: Uber-model Jean Shrimpton, by Richard Avedon. Talk about helmet hair!

 

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