What Not to get Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds as a Wedding Gift

LivelyReynolds
I love celebrity marriages! They give us something to aspire to: dreamboat spouses, fancy affairs of the heart, and  a chance to beat Vegas odds as to whether yet another Hollywood marriage will go to the wayside, and if so, how long it will take to implode.

From what I read in People Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds seem fairly grounded, having had their fair share at hard knocks, both personally and professionally. (And you know how I believe everything I read!)

That said, I'd like to propose a toast to their living happily ever after. And for you who feel compelled to help these lovebirds get off to a great start on feathering their joint nest, I'd like to suggest you skip any of thes following as wedding gifts:

+Coleman+2Mantle+Lantern+Green

 1. A green lantern.
Yes, they met on the set of the movie. However, I presume that other than that, neither views this joint project the pinnacle of their careers, therefore a household or garden accessory that subliminally suggests otherwise may not get you invited to the frequent dinner parties they are sure to hold in their new abode in Bedford, New York.

 

 


220px-Titanic_poster 2. A DVD of Titanic.
No doubt, anything that reminds Blake of the Leonardo DiCaprio she loved as a teen won't be welcomed in their home. You'll never want it said that you broke them up, now would you?

 

 

 

 

 


Pearl-earring-Johannson3. For that matter, forego DVDs of Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Match Point as well.

I have a feeling the way the camera caresses Ryan's ex-wife Scarlett Johansson would not appeal to Blake.

Makes me wonder: are you better off with a great marriage and less of a screen career, or a great screen career and fleeting relationships? Or does a Hollywood career mean you'll forego your own "happily ever after"?

I wish the happy couple both. But if I were to say which was more satisfying I'd say the former.

Here's hoping they can have their wedding cake, and eat it, too.

 

— Josie



Guide-to-Gracious-Killing (2) AHBThe Housewife Assassin's
Guide to Gracious Kil
ling

 In bookstores on September 30, 2012!

In the meantime, order Book 1,
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook

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

Read an excerpt here… 

In the US, just $2.99:

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In the UK, just £1.96 (Kindle UK) and £1.99 (iTunes UK) :
 

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 Read an excerpt here…

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or a gift certificate to your favorite bookstore!
Details to follow, by September 30, 2012,
with the launch of my new book!

Stranger than Fiction! Prince Harry Displays the Crown Jewels

Harry-walk-of-shameSometimes fate just plays into one's hand.

My opening scene for The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing, (the second in my Housewife Assassin series, to be released on September 30, 2012) starts out with my heroine, Donna Stone*, foiling a plot on Prince Harry's life while he's in San Diego, celebrating the completion of his Apache helicopter training.

I've excerpted it here, below.

Well, whattaya know? Just the other day, Harry gets caught with his pants down (in truth, off, along with everything else) while partying in Las Vegas. He was there for a charity fundraiser for the air force base on which he trained.

It's almost as if Handsome Harry, the cheeky sod, said, "That Josie Brown is a sweet bird. Why don't I give her a leg up on the sale of her new book, let her readers sneak a peek of what they're in for?"

A peek indeed!

As these pictures show, which were first released on TMZ.com, he's got a lot to offer some fine lass…

But I'm glad to see he's holding tight to the crown jewels.

You just can't buy this kind of publicity.

–Josie

Read this excerpt of
The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing,
in bookstores on September 8, 2012.

 

 


HAH-Hanging-Man-New-BlueIn the meantime, order Book 1,
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

In the US, just $2.99:

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In the UK, just £1.96(Kindle UK) and £1.99 (iTunes UK) :

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Read an excerpt here…

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

 _____________________________________________

The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing

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 makes it easy as cherry pie!

There is, however, one ironclad rule that every hostess must
follow: make all your guests wish they’d never have to leave.

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

 

Harry Happy Hour“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 that 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, which ends
somewhere  in the 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.
“Nothing under these trollies, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint.”

I finger his briefs
longingly, 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. Tomorrow the soldiers complete their
training and 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 MI-6, has led the Cousins to deduce that 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 that 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 Industries mission, he
is close by, but far enough away that no potential assassin can spot him.

Trust me, there is an
assassin 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, and more specifically, the world’s
most eligible prince ’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 that my
aim and my 1st 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
is not here with us, 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 him, like suds on ale. 

At MI-6’s behest, we’ve
kept that a secret from Harry, for now anyway. Which, 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. 

Thus far the natives
have been awed as much by his title as his regular dude  personality.

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.

Harry's haremIn 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 has draped 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 I 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—

Then the smell of smoke,
and 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 was shoving Harry in the opposite direction, up against a wall.

“It’s too dark to see
where they went. 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 he 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 is 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.

(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).


Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-v6

The Housewife Assassin's
Guide to Gracious Kil
ling

  In bookstores on September 30, 2012.


In the meantime, order Book 1,
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

In the US, just $2.99:

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In the UK, just £1.96 (Kindle UK) and £1.99 (iTunes UK) :

AmazonKindleButtonItunes_01

 Read an excerpt here…

Sign up for my eLetter
for a chance to win a Kindle, a Nook,
or a gift certificate to your favorite bookstore!
Details to follow, by September 30, 2012,
with the launch of my new book!

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

Amazon.com

Amazon. uk, only £1.96

Amazon. de, only EUR 2,68!

Amazon.fr, only EUR 2,68!


A Must-Read for any author, novelist, or writer: Lloyd Shepherd’s dialogue with a book pirate.

JackSparrow
I love it when someone tells me they've read one of my books, and enjoyed it.

But let me tell you: I wince inside when they add: "My sister [daughter, girlfriend, whatever] lent it to me."

Admittedly, it also hurts a little when they tell me as much they took it out of a library. But because I too love libraries ( besides being a big user, I also support my library during their fundraising efforts, and by donating books I no longer use) I figure, "Okay, well then maybe they'll buy the next one…and the next one…"

I write because I have to. It's my life. It's in my blood.

And I'll do it for as long as others want to read what I write–and are willing to pay for it.

Aye, there's the rub…

I have to tell you: it kills me when I discover my books are being sold illegally on the Internet.

And no, I'm not fond of the fact that people are file-sharing them, too.

You see, not all pirates are Johnny Depp.

Let me explain something:  I spend months (and in some cases, years) research, plotting, and writing my books. I see only 8 – 12 percent royalties on books that are published via large publishers.That's only $1.14 per book, and that is after I pay back an advance–in which the publisher subtracts any (gulp) returns from bookstores.

On the books I've published myself and put up as digital files that are distributed by online bookstores, I net somewhere between 35- 70 percent of my reasonabe $4.99-$2.99 retail prices. That's only $3.50-$2.10 a book — and I see that, only after I pay a graphic designer, and editor. Let's not forget my taxes.

And I still have to make my rent. And pay for my own healthcare, like every self-employed person.

So, yeah: I'd prefer if you paid for my books.

As would every other author I know.

This isn't a rant. It's a plea. For the few hours of enjoyment you get, shell out what you would for a lunch. Or for that matter, a cuppa joe.

Call it your cuppa Josie.

In this article, which appeared in the UK Guardian, Lloyd Shepherd, who wrote the wonderful novel, The English Monster, put it quite succinctly to one book pirate.

Click onto the article to read the comments.

Guilt sucks. Here's hoping it also works.

— Josie

*Picture: Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.

 

HAH Hanging Man V2
The Housewife Asassin's Handbook

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Lloyd Shepherd: My parley with ebook pirates

When the author of The English Monster found a request to pirate his novel circulating on discussion board Mobilism, he decided to respond himself – and was surprised by the results.

My novel The English Monster was published on 1 March. A week later, a Google alert dropped into my inbox with a link to a forum post on a site called Mobilism, on which a character called "Fe2" was offering a reward to anyone prepared to produce a free ebook version of The English Monster for him to use.

Most books these days are pirated in some form or another, and having worked on the web before I was a novelist I was anticipating that with a fair degree of sang-froid. But this was the first piratical move on my book, and it was also an oddity – more an incitement to piracy than piracy itself.

This, I discovered, is how Mobilism works. The site is essentially an enormous discussion board. It started, as far as I can make out, as a place where people made "mobile" versions of games and other stuff and offered them to each other. It now offers mobile (read: pirated) versions of movies and music as well as games. And books. Lots and lots of books.

However, I need to be careful about my terminology, because Mobilism is very, very careful about its own. It states, often, that it does NOT host any files of pirated material on its own servers; it only links to them. It also provides a kind of currency mechanism for people to reward each other for producing pirated material; you earn things called "WRZ$" by posting on the site, and you earn a great deal more by producing versions of content and making them available for other users.

But – and I am being careful to repeat this – these versions are NOT hosted by Mobilism. All that Mobilism requires is that you put your pirated material at a website address where other users can download it, for free, without registration. Mobilism is like a catalogue of links to other people's warehouses. It's an index, not a repository. It's exploiting a characteristic of the legal arrangements around the internet – that you should be able to link to something without becoming liable for it. This is an essential element of what makes the web work. It also allows Mobilism to create entire cathedrals to pirated content, without hosting any of that content itself.

(As an aside, this legal arrangement is now under some attack. Richard O'Dwyer is right now facing extradition to the US to feel the wrath of the Hollywood entertainment industry for building a site that contained thousands of links to pirated material. It's hard to understand why O'Dwyer is attracting this kind of legal firepower, while no one seems to be extraditing Mobilism's owners. Perhaps because, as far as I can see, no one knows who they are.)

Many writers in my position, I know, have gone into a rage when their books are pirated – particularly those with no experience of the legal ways of the internet. How can it be, they yell, that these clowns are stealing my livelihood? And I felt some irritation, of course. But blind anger wasn't getting us anywhere, and here was an opportunity to ask this guy (in my head, he's a guy, although she may well not be) what he thought he was doing. I went on to the forum to put it to him. This is what I said:

So, I'm the author of The English Monster. Can it be that you're offering to pay someone to create an ebook of the book I wrote? I'd be interested to hear your justification for this. For your interest, this book took me two years to write, and represents (on a rough estimate) perhaps 500 hours of work on my part, not to mention the time and effort put in by others to design, print, copy-edit and produce the final version. And you're proposing to pay someone else – someone who had no part in the making of the book – to produce a copy for you. Is there a good reason why you can't pay through normal channels for my book?

Please understand me – I am genuinely interested in what you've got to say about this. This is my first book, and this is my first experience of someone attempting to produce a pirate version of it (I do not use the word "pirate" pejoratively, mind). Is there any reason why I shouldn't expect to be compensated for the time I have put into this?

To my surprise, this attracted a response.

Mr Shepherd, I can tell by your measured reply that you are trying to be as fair and nonjudgmental as possible, so thank you. I am not sure how to answer you – and our messages will no doubt be deleted soon.

Bottom line is, there is no justification or reason that would or should ever satisfy the author of original content. Anyone that tries to make sense of this process (that publishing houses are greedy; that knowledge should be free … just two reasons that I have seen bandied about) is just fooling themselves. There is also a Robin Hood aspect to this, that perhaps you may understand. Either way, I don't think there is a way of putting this digital information era genie back into the bottle.

I wish you every luck in future.

This was the point at which I did, I confess, lose it for a moment. This was such a stupid collection of cliche and childishness. It's the kind of pseudo-anarchist garbage we've come to expect from the more militantly dumb wings of the anti-copyright campaign. I wrote a long reply (you can see the entire discussion here) which said, in summary, that if authors couldn't get compensation for their work there would be no authors, and didn't he know that Coleridge and Wordsworth only wrote Lyrical Ballads to fund a holiday in Germany, and why was he blaming this "digital information era genie" for his own bad behaviour. But, you know, friendly-like.

At this point, two things happened. First, the mysterious powers at Mobilism moved the forum thread from its original location under "ebook requests" to a new place called "fulfilled ebook requests". Meaning, I suppose, that they had recognised I had a problem with what was going on, but didn't want to delete the topic. For this I give them some credit (perhaps in the form of WRZ$).

The second thing was that "Fe2" sent another reply, which again I reproduce in its entirety.

Mr Shepherd, again I thank you for your considered, elegant reply. I felt replying to you was not only appropriate, but mandatory.

A small note in closing, as the thread has been moved (but not deleted – my thanks to the moderator who made that decision): it was not I who advanced those reasons that you read. I do not for one minute think that any author is being "greedy" for wanting payment for their labour, nor do I think all knowledge should be free. In fact, I cannot fathom anyone thinking that, but I wrote it because I have seen some people in other fora write those very reasons as to why they want ebooks without remuneration. Slavery, which is work without payment, was abolished in all civilised lands a long time ago, so I wish said people would read our thread and understand that.

Me, I have lived in Africa and Asia, in such remote locations that it is difficult to get internet, let alone ebooks, even if locals could afford that. Yet I've met some who try to reach for better things in life, such as current or helpful books to read, and find their options curtailed by circumstance. I know it is no excuse, but since you ask for elucidation, that is mine.

I veered from rage to puzzlement. I even wondered if this post was the product of some kind of bot. The reply did posit a reason for this guy's behaviour. There was a sort of psychology at work. But it was pretty thin: he says, for instance, that "I have lived in Africa and Asia", where presumably ebooks are hard to get hold of legitimately, but he says it in the past tense. He doesn't let on where he lives now. As a friend pointed out, he basically seemed to be saying, "Yeah, you're right, but, you know, what's a guy to do?"

I decided to go into the main Mobilism forums and start a new topic, called "Novelist seeking understanding". I asked people to explain how they justified to themselves what they were doing, or whether they even needed to. I also wondered whether they thought what they were doing would damage the culture in the long run, if authors became disincentivised to write. It's had some pretty interesting responses. The reasons and justifications given for pirating ebooks include:

• that sharing a book is great publicity for the author. Lots of quoting of Paolo Coelho and Neil Gaiman here, who've both said this sort of thing recently;

• that people who travel a lot like the convenience of ebooks, and if they already own the book in physical form they feel justified in getting a free copy;

• that this kind of "free sharing" allows people to sample books (again, it's great publicity, is the argument).

Now, two of these are not justifications for freeloading; they're after-effects. If I let people pirate my book, this argument goes, I get publicity and create a "debate" around myself which gets me noticed. Only one point (the second one) is an actual attempt to justify piracy itself.

But all of the people who replied to my original post denied being "freeloaders" – they claimed to still buy books, as many as they ever did, if not more. Their argument seemed to be that Mobilism provided a platform for discussion and, yes, sharing of books – and that this kept up a high level of appetite for, and interest in, new authors.

Obviously missing on the forum were the voices of those "pirates" I had demonised in my own head: the ones who pirate gleefully and indiscriminately, who host vast folders of free content, who give the finger to anyone in a suit and tie and believe they are changing the world one cracked DRM at a time. You know. Pirates.

I'm not naive. I do believe that in the long run I am damaged by piracy more than I am helped by it. I also know that my publisher, on whom I depend for income, support and promotion, is severely damaged by it. On that level, I want it to stop. This feeling is made even stronger by the realisation that Mobilism can sell advertising (and presumably generate a bit of revenue for someone, somewhere) on the back of well-organised and ongoing larceny. Somebody, somewhere is making money from my own labour.

But I see the sense of what the well-mannered people who responded to my question were saying, and I have some sympathy for what Gaiman and Coelho have been saying about piracy – that the more it happens, the more people find out about their books. Neil Gaiman's recent point – that no one buys their first book, they are given it by someone – is a strong one. But then, Gaiman and Coelho are established authors. Is this kind of free-for-all the best way to launch a new author? I simply do not know.

Whatever my own response, publishing as an industry could respond to this. Is there a mechanism that allows people to discuss and share books, sampling them and even giving them away, in such a way that encourages the social appetite for books and reading? Could there be a platform for people to access books in places where local deals have not made them available through traditional channels; a kind of global meta-copyright which stands where no local copyright licence has taken place? How we do either of those things is beyond me, and perhaps beyond anyone. What I can't deny is that my parley with the pirates was more fruitful than I expected it to be, and there's a lesson in that for all of us.

It’s that time of month. (Unless you’re on TV.)

  Tampons with eyes

We've crossed the bridge into the 21st century–unless you're an actress in a tampon commercial.

On American TV, we're still squeamish when talking about menstruation.

That is, a woman's period.

Her "little visitor."

Being "on the rag," as it were.

As Adweek points out, it's ironic that a product created in the 1930s — and on television, FINALLY, in 1973 — is still cloaked in AdLandia shorthand.

Forget code words. White short shorts or short skirts was — is — GirlSpeak for "it's okay to use tampons instead of pads, without worrying about bleedthrough."

To paraphrase, Betty Friedan: it's the feminine hygiene mystique.

The FCC has what is calls  "the seven dirty words" which are forbidden to say on TV. I'm too much of a lady to say them here, but you can guess what they are:

Has anyone noticed that dick and penis isn't on the list?

Which is possibly why, yes: those words flow trippingly through the boob tube.

At least, on basic cable, which is known for its potty mouth (DEADWOOD!!! I MISS YOU!!!!

Some of these words have already slipped into major broadcast network viewing as well.

So why not vagina? Why do television hostesses fudge it by saying "va-jay-jay? They should follow Lissa Rankin's advice and say it loud, say it proud.

Lubricant ads show couples in bed. Condom ads have now broken the television barrier, too. Turn on a football game and you'll overdose on Viagra and Cialis ads. (Puh-leeeez: get that couple out of their his-and-hers outdoor clawfoot tubs!)

The 1st Amendment makes strange bedfellows. A disparate group has coallesced around the goal of ending television censorship . It includes the Pacifica Foundation on the left, and the Cato Institute (a Libertarian think tank) on the right.

In fact, on July 13, 2010 in New York, FCC regulations regarding "fleeting" use of expletives were ruled unconstitutionally vague by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals,  which ruled that they violated the First Amendment in light of their possible effects regarding free speech.

Maybe we're finally crossing that bridge into the 21 century.

So that we get our celebrity fix for the day, click onto the video below. At the time (1985) , it was considered groundbreaking because she actually said the "P" word.

Several times, in fact!

Recognize the actress in this Tampax ad? When it comes to their careers, everyone's starts somewhere —

Period.

*Picture: The eyes have it! Tampons–that don't leak–are a girl's best friend.

Ewwww yuck is a fact of life,

— Josie

 

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Okay, here are my answers to 2011’s stupidest employee interview questions. A great reminder as to why I prefer to freelance.

5-yearsThis was just too heehaw funny to pass up:

Glassdoor.com, a human resources/job search site, just posted what it calls "the top 25 oddball interview questions of 2011."

Let's face it. In this case, "oddball" is a euphemism for, um…stupid.

Since I won't be applying to any of these places, I figure it's okay to share with you how I would have responded–

Had I shown up drunk or if they'd first injected me with a truth serum.

Hmmm. Not a bad idea.

But not legal to do to applicants, so they'll never know the truth.

I'm guessing they wouldn't want to know it, anyway. Diplomacy and witty repartee before honesty, right?

Writing fiction means my answered are somewhat skewed to the macabre, so I'm sure I wouldn't get hired, anyway.

I'm okay with that–

As long as you guys keep buying my books.

Just saying.

— Josie

1. “How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30pm on a Friday?” – view answers. Asked at Google. More Google interview questions.

Me: "Too many. There are just too many lazy people in SF, with too much time on their hands. You're based here, so you know that, first hand. Obviously, they are waaaay overpaid….Um, how much were you offering again?

2. “Just entertain me for five minutes, I’m not going to talk.” – view answers. Asked at Acosta. More Acosta interview questions.

Me: This is where I pull out True Hollywood Lies and read out loud the most erotic scene in it. What can I say? I give great read. And those scenes are…HOT!

3. “If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?” – view answers. Asked at Hewlett-Packard. More Hewlett-Packard interview questions.

Me: "As the whole world knows, Germans keep meticulous records. I would hack into the national academic database and pull up all Physical Education records on 12-grade height measurements, which I would then compare to the same records from countries all over the world. By the way,  I have some swampland in Monterrey that you can pick up at a steal…"

4. “What do you think of garden gnomes?” – view answers. Asked at Trader Joe’s. More Trader Joe’s interview questions.

Me: "Some of my best friends are garden gnomes. By the way, I love your Hawaiian shirt. So do my BFF garden gnomes."

5. “Is your college GPA reflective of your potential?” – view answers. Asked at the Advisory Board. More Advisory Board interview questions.

Me: "Moreso than my bust size — so please quit staring at my chest."

6. “Would Mahatma Gandhi have made a good software engineer?” – view answers. Asked at Deloitte. More Deloitte interview questions.

Me: "Honestly, no. I don't know if you've read up on the Mahatma, but he wasn't a hermitic nerd, and his online gaming scores were abominable. But if his resume hits your desk, you may want to consider him for a Community Manager position. He'll up your Facebook friends considerably."

7. “If you could be #1 employee but have all your coworkers dislike you or you could be #15 employee and have all your coworkers like you, which would you choose?” – view answers. Asked at ADP. More ADP interview questions.

 Me: "Number 1. Because I'm into WINNING. And tiger blood flows through my veins."

8. “How would you cure world hunger?” – view answers. Asked at Amazon.com. More Amazon.com interview questions.

Me: "I'd win the Miss Universe Pageant. Then I'd travel the world, advocating for world peas. And carrots. And mashed potatoes, because they go well together. But no meat. We don't want any more fatties, so I'd be pushing a vegan agenda."

9. “Room, desk and car – which do you clean first?” – view answers. Asked at Pinkberry. More Pinkberry interview questions.

Me: "Teeth."

10. “Does life fascinate you?” – view answers. Asked at Ernst & Young. More Ernst & Young interview questions.

Me: "Yes. Which is why I'm getting the hell out of here, before you hire me and I shoot my brains out."

11. “Given 20 ‘destructible’ light bulbs (which breaks at certain height), and a building with 100 floors, how do you determine the height that the light bulb breaks?” – view answers. Asked at QUALCOMM. More QUALCOMM interview questions.

Me: "Dude! Seriously? Duh. They break the moment they hit the ground. I've got a question for you, too: Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?"

12. “Please spell ‘diverticulitis’.” – view answers. Asked at EMSI Engineering. More EMSI Engineering interview questions.

Me: "If I do, can I use the $25,000 scholarship prize money to pay off my college bills?….Oh! You're not National Geographic, are you?"

13. “Name 5 uses of a stapler without staple pins.” – view answers. Asked at EvaluServe. More EvaluServe interview questions

Me: "Knock out a mugger. Knock out a rapist. Threaten a bank teller. Knock out a pawing first date. Knock out a pawing first boss. Don't worry, I know my way out."

14. “How much money did residents of Dallas/Ft. Worth spend on gasoline in 2008?” – view answers Asked at American Airlines. More American Airlines interview questions.

Me. "Too much. Too many gas guzzling cars, too many people who work in the oil industry to care about global warming, and not enough public awareness of its environmental impact. What fuels do your planes use again?… Yep, I know the way out. Scotty, beam me up."

15. “How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?” – view answers. Asked at Horizon Group Properties. More Horizon Group Properties interview questions.

Me: "Same as I would a man: kill it, then chop it into steaks. On the way out, I'll leave you a copy of The Housewife Assassin's Handbook. It's got detailed instructions–regarding the man, not the elephant. My heroine, Donna, loves animals–"

16. “You have a bouquet of flowers. All but two are roses, all but two are daisies, and all but two are tulips. How many flowers do you have?” – view answers. Asked at Epic Systems. More Epic Systems interview questions.

Me: "Three. What say I set you up with the HR interviewer at Qualcomm? He likes trick questions, too. I think you two are a match made in heaven."

17. “How many planes are currently flying over Kansas?” – view answers. Asked at Best Buy. More Best Buy interview questions.

Me: "Too many. But there are probably a few terrorists out there with heat-seeking missle launchers to remedy that….Yes, I know. I have an active imagination. And I know my way out, too. By the way, Egghead has better prices on netbooks than you guys."

18. “How many different ways can you get water from a lake at the foot of a mountain, up to the top of the mountain?” – view answers. Asked at Disney Parks & Resorts. More Disney Parks & Resorts interview questions.

 Me: "Listen, Goofy: I'm not trying for a gig in your Imagineering Department. I just want to be Cinderella in the Main Street Electrical Parade. Here, watch me wave and smile–"

19. “What is 37 times 37?” – view answers .Asked at Jane Street Capital. More Jane Street Capital interview questions.

"I'm guessing it's what I'd be making in salary, for one week's work here. So instead, why don't I answer 'What is 100 x 100', which is more in line to what I'd accept?"

20. “If you could be a superhero, what power would you possess?” – view answers. Asked at Rain and Hail Insurance. More Rain and Hail Insurance interview questions.

Me: "The power to be so wealthy that I wouldn't have to go on interviews where people like you ask such stupid questions. Or the power to create world peas. And carrots. With mashed potatoes."

21. “If you were a Microsoft Office program, which one would you be?” – view answersAsked at Summit Racing Equipment. More Summit Racing Equipment interview questions.

Me: "The one that wouldn't get me sued by MicroSoft. By the way, a better question to ask is to name a software program that MicroSoft hasn't been sued for copying."

22. “Pepsi or Coke?” – view answersAsked at United Health Group. More United Health Group interview questions.

Me: "Water. You guys do work in healthcare, right?…Oh, got it! You just bill for healthcare procedures."

23. “Are you exhaling warm air?” – view answers. Asked at Walker Marketing. More Walker Marketing interview questions.

Me: "No. Carbon dioxide. You're a marketing firm, so I don't hold your stupidity against you, but I'd certainly be scratching my head if you were Genentech."

24. “You’re in a row boat, which is in a large tank filled with water. You have an anchor on board, which you throw overboard (the chain is long enough so the anchor rests completely on the bottom of the tank). Does the water level in the tank rise or fall?” – view answers. Asked at Tesla Motors. More Tesla Motors interview questions.

Me: "It stays the same. Okay, let me ask you a question: When will the hovercraft be available, and how many jiggawatts will it need to power it? And is Marty McFly really your CEO? Because that's the rumor–"

25. “How do you feel about those jokers at Congress?” – view answers.Asked at Consolidated Electrical. More Consolidated Electrical interview questions.

Me: "You complete me. Hire me! Please!"

________________________________________

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Supreme Court on the gender bias class action case against Wal-Mart is narrowed to those women with grievances.

Some_like_it_hot_trio
On one hand, I was disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling that threw the gender bias lawsuit against omnipotent retailer, Wal-Mart, out of court. I would imagine that if it were a company-wide policy, then EVERY woman should have been included in this class-action case.

But who is to say, if only a handful came forward of the thousands of women who at Wal-Mart work, or have worked there over the years?

On the other hand, the women who actually stood up about these practices should be the ones to reap the benefit from the outcome of the case, should the court rules in their favor–

Of course, the attorneys will be getting their cut first, so it may be a hollow victory at best.

To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot? "I'm tired of getting the fuzzy end of the lollypop?"

You can watch that scene here…

–Josie

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THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

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CLICK HERE TO READ THE CONTEST RULES…


Tucson Tragedy: It’s Time for Comprehensive Universal Mental Health

Jared-Lee-Loughner The despair felt by the parents of the mentally ill — especially those whose illnesses, such as schizophrenia, manifest into anger and has caused them to do physical harm to others — is unfathomable by the rest of us.

These are not bad parents. They are people who love their children, and have done their best to get medical attention for their offspring, despite the expense (psychopharmaceutical drugs can be as much as $100 a pill, even if needed daily), and the stress of all the red tape traps devised by our American health insurance system–not to mention the lack of comprehensive medical care for the mentally ill, once the financial hurdles have been jumped. 

Below is an excerpt for the Mother Lode column in the New York Times, in which several parents with mentally ill children who have done similar acts give their perspectives on the Tucson, Arizona killing rampage that injured fourteen, including U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and killed six others.

We can't take healthcare off the table now. In so many ways, our lives depend on our society — and elected officials — addressing this topic, and moving forward on workable answers.

 

I've also included a video, from PBS's NewsHour, on the Tucson and the missed opportunities to prevent it by assessing Laughner's mental health situation. Sadly, Laughner was putting his intentions out there with YouTube videos.

The irony: Arizona had cut $65 million from its mental health social services budget since 2008.

Knowledge is power,

–Josie

 

 

MOTHERLODE / Adventures in Parenting / New York Times

January 11, 2011, 3:31 pm

A Killer’s Parents

By LISA BELKIN
A photograph of Jared L. Loughner released by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.Pima County Sheriff’s OfficeA photograph of Jared L. Loughner released by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.

With Jared Lee Loughner’s unhinged grin staring out from so many Web sites and newspapers today, parents of troubled young adults are stepping forward, giving glimpses into the pain and impotence that comes when your child has mental illness.

In Chicago, the longtime local CBS news anchor Bill Kurtis shared all that and more with viewers last night, talking publicly for the first time about his son Scott, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and who died in 2009 when he was 38.

In unscripted comments coming after a report on the reasons authorities don’t take action against bizarre behavior before it turns threatening, Kurtis talked of how his son heard voices and suffered from hallucinations, but was not violent. The turn toward violence in the mentally ill, however, can be unpredictable, Kurtis said. “I was told my son went nonviolent, and he was no danger,” he said. “But 10 percent of the crimes are committed by mentally ill people who do turn violent.”

After the newscast Kurtis told the blogger Robert Federer that he decided to speak out because Loughner’s story seemed so familiar. “I never wanted to exploit Scott and the illness, and always thought that if he wanted it to go public, he should be able to make the decision and talk about it,” Kurtis said. “We’d been living with this for so long that when I heard some of the witnesses and observers who came forward Saturday [to describe Loughner], I felt this was the perfect time. In schizophrenia, they say people seem to come in and out. So they can look normal and function normally and go in and buy a gun.”

One can only imagine that Kurtis is putting himself in the shoes of Loughner’s parents and wondering “what if?” That is definitely what Jeannette Halton-Tiggs is doing, and she wrote about it today over on The Daily Beast.

In a column titled “Mother of a Monster,” she describes to columnist Mansfield Frazier how her son, Timothy Halton Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for shooting a police officer.

As she says:

…in truth my Timmy is not, and never was, a monster… what he was cursed to be is one of the literally millions of hopelessly and irrevocably mentally ill individuals in the world today. He suffers from a severe form of paranoid schizophrenia that renders him incapable of controlling his thoughts, emotions or actions when, for a variety of reasons — some beyond his control — he is off his medications. And I did everything humanly possible within my power to keep him on a treatment regimen, but, alas, to no avail.

The reality is, no one can be as deranged as my son, or as Jared Loughner apparently is, without many people being aware of his deteriorating mental condition — yet seemingly no one moved to force him into treatment. The burning question following a mind-boggling incident of this kind should be: “Why do we, as a society, allow known dangerously mentally ill individuals to make their own decisions in regard to receiving treatment?”

There is a powerful contingent of folks in the mental-health care delivery field in this country who posit that no one should be compelled to be treated for their illness unless, and until, they harm someone. This, in itself, is insane … and dangerous to boot. I screamed at the top of my lungs that my son was one day going to hurt someone, or himself, but no one in a position of authority to avert the tragedy would listen or do anything.

That is mostly because Timmy turned 18 and his mother lost legal authority to control whether he took his medicines or was hospitalized or even monitored. Halton-Tiggs cites data which show that “more than 40,000 dangerously mentally ill individuals are roaming America’s streets on any given day, untreated.”

All those individuals are someone’s child.

As Halton-Tiggs concludes: “I’m pretty sure I know what Loughner’s family is going though. The guilt, the shame, the sense of despair.”

Statistics mean that tens of thousands of other parents out there fear one day knowing those feelings as well.

(c) 2010 New York Times.